Her experience at that camp inspired her and led her to pursue non-profit sector, and, in particular, women's and children's health. Fun fact: It's also where she met her husband, and she states that having a partner who is just as passionate about making a difference fueled her drive even more.
Her whole career has been dedicated to just that- from working with families involved in the child welfare system, to patients in an inner city hospital, or to families doing all they can to make sure their young children have all they need for a healthy start. Michelle said, "I feel so blessed to have arrived where I am now- an organization which involves a common thread to all I've done so far. We are ensuring women and girls have the resources and opportunities to thrive. When that happens, so many of the other issues we see in our society are alleviated".
So, where exactly is Michelle now? This Summer, Michelle was announced as the Executive Director for the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, a non-profit that leads and unites the community through philanthropy and advocacy with a goal of providing women and girls with equality and security, making the community stronger and more vibrant.
Describe yourself in three words.
Hard working, passionate, and determined.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
I have had plenty of moments that I reflect on in my career where I have felt really rewarded and grateful for the opportunity to do what I do- for example, a kid being reunited with his parents, an adopted child making a new life, or a family gaining access to medical care. All of that has been amazing. However, I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am - the mother of five girls and leading an organization focused on making sure that the path forward is better paved for them and their peers. The stars have aligned for me. This work is personal.
What are your professional goals for the next six months?
Keep on keepin' on! CCFWG is so well positioned to be the region's most trusted advocate for women and girls, and my goal is to take that to the next level. The Blueprint Report gives the community the data they need to understand the issues that are being experienced. CCFWG is focused on getting that information out there and convening the community to take collective action. I want to see the BluePrint be more than a Report- I want to continue to see it being a tool for social change in our community.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I think I've dreamed about plenty of other professions, but one that would probably be most surprising is a mixed martial arts fighter. I am a big UFC fan and I can't imagine the adrenaline rush of stepping into the octagon! Everyday they lead such a physically and mentally disciplined life. What a great challenge!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I admit- this is tough! I have five daughters (10, 7, and 15 month old triplets) and a demanding job, so there's not much room for anything else. I am constantly striving to make every minute count, and I'm realizing that applies to the few moments I give myself. In those rare moments, I do my best to be fully present in whatever I'm doing - blocking out everything else. It helps, but one day, my husband and I will need to take a pretty sweet vacation to really achieve balance!
What websites do you visit every day?
Nothing too fun or out of the ordinary - email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn... those often lead me to a variety of blogs, articles, or stories. When I have a minute of down time and want to veg, I might pop on www.ted.com or shopping sites like ThredUp.
What are your top three favorite people/places/things to do in your city?
1. Marsh Creek State Park - even though it's literally my backyard, you immediately feel like you're on vacation once you're on the water. I got a Stand Up Paddle Board for Mother's Day and so it's become one of my favorite things to do. 2. Victory Brewery - amazing food and beer and surprisingly very kid-friendly. 3. Roots Cafe - favorite lunch date spot!
What is your goal for retirement?
Retirement? What's retirement? If my professional life continues to align with my personal passion, I can't even fathom it. I am blessed to love what I do.
Do you have any advice for women who'd like to start their own company?
I have not started my own business, but I think there is much advice that applies to all women with professional ambitions. One that has stuck with me is "Take the opportunity to step up and defy what is expected of you". It really speaks to the boldness that women in particular need to step out of their comfort zone in order to make serious strides. Our society isn't exactly structured in a way that is supportive of women taking chances. We need to push each other to step out.