Michelle is a leader in building social enterprise, inclusive economies, and community development. For 18 years as CEO until retiring in late 2023, she steered Goodwill Industries, serving across Ontario, to a $63 million enterprise with 1,300 employees who train and work on several platforms including thrift/recycling, food and hospitality, light manufacturing, power industrial sewing, and commercial/industrial contracts. She helped create and launch Edgar and Joe’s Café, Goodwill Commercial Solutions, and an emerging social enterprise collaboration WORTH – a fully circular textile initiative including a re-manufactured product line comprised of post consumer textiles heading to waste, and further recycling of waste to make new raw materials and products for industry. Employing and training people who face barriers such as mental illness, poverty and marginalization, Goodwill has propelled tens of thousands of individuals to work and prosperity.
For the past three years, Michelle has helped steer a collaborative initiative, Inclusive Economy London and Region, promoting economic development practices that build a more resilient, local, and sustainable economy while addressing systemic issues of social and economic exclusion. Strategies include harnessing the economic power of anchor institutions such as hospitals, social procurement, and community benefit agreements, building local wealth through community ownership, and living wage initiatives to ensure access to decent work. The end game is a more local, vibrant, and sustainable economy for the benefit of all.
Michelle led the redevelopment of London’s large-scale initiative to rebuild Covent Garden Market, featuring a children’s theatre, an arts incubator, a teaching kitchen, and 55 local food and produce businesses.
As founding Executive Director, Michelle initiated one of the first full-scale hospital development programs in Canada, University Hospital Foundation, leading to community investment of more than $100 million. As Hospital Vice-President, she played a critical role in strengthening the health and scientific fabric one of Ontario’s largest health science centres, co-leading the development of the Centre for the Advancement of Medical Device Technology, and later the evolution of the Robarts Research Institute.
Michelle has served on the Board of Goodwill Industries International and served as Chair of the International Sustainability Committee driving innovations in sustainability and circularity. She founded the Parkinson’s Society of Southwestern Ontario and has served on the Boards of Orchestra London (as chair in 2002), Pillar Non-profit Network, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Fanshawe College, and The Canadian Centre for Product Validation. Currently she serves on the Institute of Corporate Directors and the board of Museum London.
Michelle is the recipient of the YMCA Woman of Excellence Award, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Goodwill International Sustainability Champion, London and Region Business Hall of Fame Laureate, Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Award for Environmental Leadership and numerous other design and community acknowledgments. She achieved a Bachelor of Science, Occupational Therapy from the University of Toronto, and Registered Nursing designation from Ryerson University. A primary focus of Michelle’s work is systems reform to improve early intervention and funded access to mental health and addiction care, and to enhance dignity and outcomes for people idling in the welfare, health, or incarcerations systems, though community-based work programs which integrate health care and intensive skills training. A Work First model (like Housing First) has been funded, piloted, and demonstrated… and is advancing toward scaling and further study. In semi-retirement Michelle is consulting in the realm of building inclusive and community based economies, sustainability, people and culture and governance.