Michelle Harris is a 22-year Clayton resident, neighbor, parent, businesswoman and community volunteer. In 2006, she was elected to serve as an Alderman for Ward 2. Now in her third term as an Alderman, she has found a calling in city government.
“As an Alderman I have learned a great deal and have come to care intensely about the future of our community,” she says. “Not just how we face our inevitable challenges, but also how we explore new ways to enhance our residential and business communities.”
In addition to her government work, Michelle has:
- 20 years of business experience with Fortune 500 companies. including DuPont, Nestle-Purina and Solae.
- Experience starting and running her own consulting business.
- An MBA from the University of Missouri, Columbia; a bachelors degree in Art Education from Stephens College; and a Missouri K-12 teaching certificate.
- More than 15 years of community service in Clayton.
A Leader With Vision
Michelle is constantly on the lookout for fresh and creative solutions, and she is not afraid to take on ambitious endeavors.
- Michelle is a founding board member of the Clayton Century Foundation, a new venture created to maximize community resources in these challenging economic times.
- She has proposed cost sharing between the city and school district, currently under joint evaluation.
- She supported the Clayton ban on smoking in public places.
- She started a campaign promoting “buying local” to benefit Clayton businesses and the city.
- She takes an “all hands on deck” approach to invigorating Clayton’s business districts, ie. bringing together stakeholders from schools, business, community and higher education.
- She takes a “triple bottom line” approach to growth, measuring community and environmental outcomes as well as financial ones.
A Leader With Energy
“I believe in hard work and perseverance. These values have served me well throughout my life.” M.H.
Michelle demonstrates her energy and purpose in many endeavors. She has:
- Conducted a three-month “Summer Listening Tour” to solicit ideas and concerns from Clayton residents and businesses.
- Started her own consulting business.
- Organized a Cub Scout den and led it for five years.
- Served on a variety of non-profit boards including Center of Clayton, Springboard to Learning, Clayton Century Foundation, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.
- Co-launched a Clayton boys’ lacrosse program.
- Volunteered in Clayton classrooms.
- Served on the Shaw Park Ice Rink Task Force, Housing Task Force, Parks and Recreation Commission, Economic Development Advisory Commission, and others.
- Lobbied for and achieved a state-of-the-art concussion monitoring program for boys’ lacrosse.
- Served as PTO co-president for Glenridge and Wydown.
- Worked for 20 years at Fortune 500 companies.
A Leader Who Makes Things Happen
“My strategy is always to bring people together to achieve specific results. When the results are in, that’s when we’re done.“ M.H.
Michelle’s commitment to collaborating and getting results is born out by her accomplishments. Here are some examples:
The Clayton Century Foundation: In 2009, Michelle teamed up with a group of dedicated citizens to launch the first public-private partnership in Clayton. The foundation has raised roughly $2 million in it’s first two years for such things as musical nights in Oak Knoll Park, the new inclusive playground in Shaw Park, improvements to Hanley House and new walking trails in Shaw Park. More projects are in the works!
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis: A decade ago, Michelle and a handful of co-organizers met in a friend’s living room to lay the groundwork for an ambitious project: a free outdoor summer Shakespeare festival in Forest Park. The group launched the festival in June 2001. Michelle stayed on the board for six years to help the festival grow. Now entering its 13th season, the Shakespeare Festival draws 60,000 people to its free summer performances and educates more than 25,000 students a year.
Clayton Domestic Partnership Registry: Last year, responding to requests from community members, including elderly citizens, Michelle worked to craft and pass a Voluntary Domestic Partnership Registry, which the city approved in a January 2012 ordinance. This measure allows established household members who are not married to one another to request and receive benefits available to families.
Clayton Middle School Lacrosse Program: In 2010, when parents voiced a need for more sports programs for Clayton middle schoolers, Michelle worked with another parent to launch an 8th grade boys lacrosse program. The program was so successful that it now has teams for 5th, 6th and 7th grades.