Michelle Mickle Foster is an engineer, nonprofit leader, philanthropy executive and public speaker. Born in Guyana, South America, Michelle immigrated at 17 years old to Brooklyn, New York, to pursue the American dream. After completing her chemical engineering degree at the City College of New York, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to start her career. Her career took her from Ohio to Charleston, West Virginia, where she discovered her purpose and passion while volunteering at a local church. This discovery led to Michelle leaving Corporate America for the nonprofit sector, developing a faith-motivated nonprofit organization in the church’s basement.
Michelle used her systems thinking, problem-solving and analytical abilities and other engineering skills to transform the organization into one of the most impactful and enterprising community-based initiatives in West Virginia. She was even recognized as a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for her efforts. A lifelong learner, Michelle completed master’s and doctorate degrees in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University while running the nonprofit full-time.
The positive impact she was making through the nonprofit got Michelle on the radar of the largest community foundation in Central Appalachia when they were searching for a new President and CEO. Michelle is still positively impacting communities in this role, albeit from a different vantage point. Her nonprofit experience allows the strategies implemented by the Foundation to strengthen grantee partners and provide them with financial support. In addition, her life and career experiences make her a sought-after speaker on leadership, nonprofit operations, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Michelle enjoys attending musical and theatrical productions, candle making and soul line dancing in her spare time. In addition, Michelle places a premium on spending quality time with her extended family. You can find her podcast, Fostering Solutions, wherever you get your podcasts.