As strategy manager for MCAN’s Community Mobilization Strategy department, Michelle provides support and technical assistance to our statewide Local College Access Networks. She manages the Community Ambassador program and assists in the auditing of existing programs. Additionally, Michelle helps with the design of new programs to ensure they are focused on closing equity gaps in postsecondary attainment, specifically among low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color.
By joining MCAN, Michelle continues more than a decade of work in Michigan's nonprofit sector. After graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in family community services, Michelle joined Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, where she managed grant programs serving first-time, low-income homebuyers. In partnership with the 60+ Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the state, she examined organizational policies and procedures to better understand the impact programs were having on underserved and marginalized populations. This experience sparked her interest in the postsecondary educational system, as many aspiring homebuyers had student loan debt impeding their dreams of safe, affordable housing. Michelle realized she wanted to tackle social issues on a larger scale, and she returned to Michigan State University and obtained her master’s degree in social work with a concentration in organization and community leadership.
As a first-generation college graduate, Michelle wasn’t certain college was in the cards for her. A few influential high school teachers and mentors encouraged her to pursue college, and her family was supportive of the decision. She struggled through the application process, understanding financial aid, and declaring a major. When she arrived on campus, her dreams were almost derailed by a lack of support, knowledge, and finances, coupled by unforeseen life events. But Michelle remembered her grandmother telling her that people are resilient, and she pressed on. These were her firsthand experiences with the barriers woven into our society. She is excited to assist the MCAN team in addressing inequities in the educational system.
Outside of work, Michelle enjoys walking, running, and hiking with her husband and their three dogs. She is an avid roller skater and roller derby enthusiast. Recently, she became a certified master gardener. In the summer, you can find her at home in her garden or in the kitchen trying new recipes. Michelle also serves on the board of directors for the Oasis Kyrgyzstan Foundation and Oasis Ministries, Inc., where she supports domestic and international initiatives focused on anti-trafficking advocacy and supporting health and educational opportunities for youth.