If you opened your own business, what would it be? 

I’m going to go a bit off script here and say if I were to run my own organization it would be a charitable foundation. This has been a goal of mine since high school. There are so many incredible organizations doing amazing work and it takes funding to grow those ideas and create impact.  

 

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Be kind to yourself. Be okay with vulnerability. Let others in.

 

Exceptional Skills- 

Creating solutions.

Building systems and process.

Listening and finding common ground.

Connecting and team building.

 

What makes you feel fulfilled? 

Serving others and my community.

Traveling.

Continual learning and education.

Cooking and exploring new recipes.

 

When asked to describe yourself, what’s the first word that pops into your mind? 

Resilient.

 

Favorite Book- 

This is a tough question. I’m an avid reader and always have a stack of books on my nightstand. I’m often reading several books at a time; one to feed my imagination, one to help me grow professionally, and one to satisfy my interest in current affairs. Currently, some of my favorites include:

 

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews – I read this book before traveling to South Korea this past year. While the book is fiction, the story includes real historical events that provided a deeper understanding of my heritage.

 

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters by Priya Parker – I recently finished this book and it completely changed my perspective on how we gather both in the workplace and in life. I’m someone who can visibly become anxious in a meeting if purpose or productivity is lost and this book helped me rethink how we structure gatherings to make them more meaningful.

 

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations by Amy Chua – My bachelor’s degree is in International Relations so I still have a soft spot for a good political science read.

 

 What makes your heart race? 

Speaking in small groups. I’m more comfortable in front of a large crowd than I am in a smaller setting of unfamiliar faces. 

 

Organization or cause near to your heart- 

There are so many wonderful organizations and causes I support and volunteer for. However, I’m currently serving on the board of the By Degrees Foundation. We’re a local organization that works to increase high school graduation rates while fostering a culture of postsecondary education and career readiness. As a first-generation college student myself, I’ve experienced first hand how education opens doors. I’m humbled to be a part of an organization that takes a proactive and multipronged approach to supporting students and their families by addressing academic, social/emotional, and financial barriers.

 

What keeps you up at night? 

I am a perfectionist and I’m constantly thinking about what’s next. What’s on my to-do list? What more can I be doing? How can I be better? I put a lot of pressure on myself which at times can be helpful but certainly not at midnight. I’ve started journaling in the evening which seems to be helping with some of the late-night stressors I know most of us struggle with.

 

What is a belief you once held but no longer do? 

That success is linear.

 

What are you interested in connecting with other women about?

I have always been interested in hearing the stories of others. I value authentic conversations and understanding different perspectives while finding commonalities in our human experience. I find so much joy in listening to other women and learning about their goals and passions in life. Whether it’s running a business, starting a new graduate program, or creating a blog, I believe in a world where we continually lift each other up. Providing a space where we can be honest and raw without judgment is important. And I hope I can always model that.

Michelle Wilkie

Writer, Community Builder & Non-Profit Leader

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