Michael Connelly was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. A former conscientious objector and winner of the Late Watch Award recognizing California's outstanding young journalist by members of the California Newspaper Writers Association, he was drafted in 1966 and served two years as an infantry soldier. When he returned to his newspaper job, he became increasingly aware that the stories about Vietnam that the news media were printing were erroneous, fallacious and misleading. He dropped out from mainstream America and spent the next few years in the hills and mountains, riding horses, growing gardens, and raising a family.
When it was time to drop back in, he settled in Eugene in 1974 and enrolled at the UO as a religious studies major with a minor in philosophy. He was student director of the SEARCH Program of Alternative Education, and was student body vice-president for two years. After earning his master’s degree in alternative education and institutional change from the interdisciplinary studies program, he was hired as a counselor for a local Native American agency and eventually became the program director, a position he held until leaving to return to Northern California in 1984. He worked in Marin County as the senior residential counselor at a long-term residential treatment program for cocaine addiction for 18 months, then returned to Eugene to work as the unit coordinator for Lane County's methadone treatment program, a position he held until retiring in 2002. Since then, he has taught courses in alternative methods of drug treatment and counseling diverse cultures/populations at the UO.
Connelly is an avid softball player, who has pitched for numerous city and county championship teams as well as the state men's championship team. Additionally, he has worked with the Oregon Country Fair for 30 years and is a volunteer and cultural/spiritual advisor for the Burning Man festival in northern Nevada. He presently shares a home with a parrot, two catkins, a fish and a finch. When asked about his present position with SAPP, Connelly smiles and states that he feels grateful everyday for the honor and blessings this opportunity offers.