My Approach

As co-founder and former COO of the Northside Achievement Zone I spent over fifteen years working in community in North Minneapolis. I learned how systemic racism shows up as day-to-day practices in organizations, schools, systems….and in myself. I carry with me the stories of resilience in the face of unending barriers. I developed a perspective about how we can change systems that is centered around this awareness. I’m now consulting to cultivate person-centered, racially equitable social service and non-profit organizations working at the intersection of race and poverty.

Facilitation, Planning, and Redesign

  • See Change – Envision together the change you want to see
  • Design Together – Design together what would need to happen to get to the new vision
  • Focus on People – Building a people-focused culture to support the work
  • Practice New Actions – Implement and practice “the new” together
  • See Change – Use feedback loops, formal (evaluation) and informal (feedback culture), to understand impact both on people and the work

“I have worked with Michelle since the start-up phase of NAZ as a Promise Neighborhood. I’ve watched her become a national leader at building cultures of accountability that contribute to the acceleration of results at an impressive scale. She has a mastery for envisioning high impact change strategies and creating practical steps to move from talk to action.”

-Michael McAfee, PolicyLink, President & CEO

Sense-Making & Qualitative Listening

  • Our diverse team of co-consultants has a breadth of experience with community-engaged qualitative analysis and evaluation. We will use deep listening methods to cultivate insight from people most impacted by your organization.
  • We can quickly understand complex dynamics within a system or team to help illuminate pathways that factor current state and future possibility.
  • We can use these same methods to understand how progress is being made and help convert valuable insight into action.

“Michelle is gifted with a unique combination of ability to envision a viable pathway toward societal change and the skills to help her programmatic architectural designs take root and flourish in our community.”

-Anne Long, Plymouth Youth Center, Executive Director

Engaged Leadership Coaching

I provide leadership coaching within the context of a working, engaged partnership. As part of strategic planning or a broader engagement within an organization, I can coach one or more leaders around the dynamics being revealed. My coaching process involves an iterative approach using visual notes to support awareness and understanding of broader context that may be impacting a role or a team.

“Michelle was able to help me look at my leadership thoughts and decision making process from a wider angle which increased my insight as to why other organizational decisions were being made. Thereby helping me turn the corner and take positive steps to take action and made improvements in my leadership style.”

-Director, St. Paul Non-profit

Anti-Racism in Action & Adaptive Change

  • I live and breathe the elements of emergent strategy – how big shifts emerge out of a pattern of small changes. It’s a framework for how we create change in more alignment with living systems.
  • I have had extensive and focused effort in examining day-to-day practices (programs, policies, process) to dismantle systemic racism and to ensure more equitable solutions to emerge.
  • I have a vision for how to see and inspire change in day-to-day practices that will lead to broader change.

“Over the past decade I have witnessed Michelle’s keen ability to capture, synthesize and package complex layers of information to inform community-based decision making and to leverage resources. Driven by her understanding of the role that racism plays in institutionalized inequity, her work is an expression of her deep commitment to shaping a world that is fair and just.”
Matt Halley, Cookie Cart, Executive Director

Minneapolis, MN

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