Michelle was raised in Guatemala as the fifth of six children to missionary parents. Growing up in Guatemala was rich with experiences that gave her an immense appreciation for the value of learning from others, the importance of diversity, and the clarity that there are many different ways to approach virtually everything.
She eventually made her way to Texas where she received a bachelors degree in theatre arts at Baylor University and a masters degree in educational psychology from the University of Texas. She received her license as a professional counselor in 1998.
She is the former executive director of Momentous Institute, a nearly 100 year old nonprofit focused on building and repairing social emotional health. Under her leadership, Momentous Institute was named one of the top 100 Best Workplaces for Women by Fortune magazine and Great Places to Work and one of the 50 Best Workplaces in Texas.
Michelle now spends her time as a nationally recognized speaker and writer and as the Director of Social Change Leadership Programs at Stagen Leadership Academy. She is a fellow of the OpEd Project and has articles featured in TIME, Washington Post, Texas Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Mindful Magazine and Huffington Post. With Rex Miller, she is co-authoring the book, WHOLE: What Teachers Need to Help Students Thrive, which will be released in 2020.
Michelle is a member of the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association and serves on several local and national Boards and Advisory Councils. In 2015, Michelle was honored as CEO of the Year by CNM Connect. In 2018, Michelle was named one of the Faces of Hope by the Grant Halliburton Foundation and Dallas-Fort Worth Teach for America’s Honorary Alum. In 2019, Juliette Fowler Communities honored Michelle as their Visionary Woman and the Dallas Historical Society selected Michelle to receive an Award in Excellence in Education.
Michelle lives in Dallas with her husband, Patrick, daughters Maya and Sophia and their high-maintenance, strung-out, full-of-love rescue dogs, Coco, Kingston, Ellie Mae and Yuta.