Where are you from originally?
I was quite fortunate as a child to have experienced many different places. I was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Florida and Kentucky. Moved to Hilton Head Island,SC when I started my family until I made Los Angeles my home in late August of 2015.
When did you start working at the Chamber?
The Beverly Hills Chamber was my first employer when I moved here, so about 2 1/2 years now.
What were you doing before you started working at the Chamber?
My biggest passion in my life are my children. I have two incredibly gifted and talented daughters that dance. They started following their dreams many years ago when they were young teenagers, charting their course to move from SC; one to New York City and the other to Los Angeles. As a single mother for the last 18 years, I’ve spent my career days focused on how I can help make their dreams come true. With that, my resume is quite eclectic. While I did work for the Town of Hilton Head and had experience with their Chamber and CVB, I opted to trade that in for a part time job with USAir to provide the free flight benefits so my daughters could travel the country and assist master dance teachers to help further their dance careers. When I wasn’t marshaling the airplanes, I took a full time job with Marriott Vacation Club to work around my part time union airline schedule. If that wasn’t enough, I filled in my extra hours at the airport helping out Enterprise Car Rental. So for several years, I was able to provide my girls the travel benefits of flights, hotels and car rentals for all of their dance travel needs. After years of my girls checking the boxes of college scholarship requirements, they each secured scholarships at the schools of their choice. My oldest was moving to NewYork City and my youngest, to Los Angeles. The younger one was only 16 and graduating from high school early, but too young for her to move to Los Angeles on her own. I could not deny her the opportunity, so I quit all of my jobs, sold everything we owned and we “packed up the car and moved to Beverly” … Literally. I was fortunate enough to find the open position with the Beverly Hills Chamber as we were driving across country (at the Grand Canyon to be exact). I secured an interview before ever making it to Los Angeles. That was a life lesson to my daughters to never let the fear of the unknown stop you from chasing your dreams. Where there is a will, there is a way!
Favorite thing about your job:
I’m an extremely social person and love meeting new people. But even more than that, I love connecting people. This is the perfect job for me. The mission of the Chamber is to be that invaluable resource for connections. I love being the business Matchmaker of the Beverly Hills Chamber!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love to travel and experience new places. Up until now, all my traveling has been with my daughters traveling the country with their dancing. We never had any true “vacation time” to go anywhere that wasn’t dance related. I always tried to add on extra days to explore the cities we were in which I’m grateful that we had that opportunity to see so much of our own country! With my girls in college and out of the house, I seem to have a bit more freedom to travel and check things off my bucket list. Last year, I bought my first passport for a trip that I won to China! I was nervous and intimidated by the thought of traveling to Asia, but once there, I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to go back! My girls and I rented a house in Mexico for Thanksgiving! Now, I REALLY have the travel bug and I’m planning future trips abroad!
One piece of advice for Chamber members:
Get involved! We have one of the best Chambers I’ve ever known. Your success as a Chamber Member will only come from you being active and engaged and foster relationships from the connections that we help you make. We have so much to offer; there is something for everyone. If you aren’t sure of all that we can offer you, please attend our “Get to Know Your Chamber” or reach out to us directly. We WANT you to be successful! That’s our job!
What are the best and worst things about living in LA?
There are so many positives to living in Los Angeles. I come from the south east coast where it is hot, humid, buggy (but beautiful)… Here, I absolutely LOVE the weather!! You can’t beat it. And there is so much to do. Every direction you turn you have something different: the ocean, the mountains, the desert, etc. Mostly, I love the people. I have been blessed to have come into a community that has a world famous brand name “Beverly Hills” but it has a “home town” feel to those who live and work here. For being strangers, my daughter and I have been welcomed with open arms and I love it.
The worst things…
The traffic, which is why I try to avoid it at all costs. And, I still feel uneasy with the constant threat of an earthquake. I’m used to Hurricanes that you have a week’s notice to prepare for. But, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
Three bucket list items:
- Travel the world – as many places as possible
- Say YES to things that are out of your comfort zone but are amazing experiences (i.e. skydiving)
- To see my girls’ lives unfold and witnessing their journey to see where life takes them
What is one thing you wish you could tell your fifteen year old self:
Don’t take life so seriously. Don’t chase success through grades and degrees and things that people tell you that you need to do to be successful. Follow your happiness and you will find success. Life is too short to not be happy! And… I know the teachers reprimand you and mark your report cards with “great grades, but talks to much” … “too much socializing in class”…. But don’t worry! One day you’ll get paid to socialize… and you will love it! You be you!
If you could have one superhuman power, what would it be?
To heal people!
To get in touch with Michelle and the rest of the Chamber staff, please click here.