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Michelle Y. Bess

Michelle Bess always aspired to be a leader and role model. Through Act Six, Michelle got her first glimpse at the kind of impact to be found in radical inclusion. Today, she serves as vice president of talent and diversity, equity and inclusion at a Chicago-based financial technology company, and chairs the Degrees of Change’s board of directors.

In her professional work, Michelle focuses on efforts to ensure all people feel a sense of belonging and that their voices are heard. She recently completed Georgetown University’s executive certificate in strategic diversity and inclusion management. Prior to her work in the technology sector, Michelle worked in college success at OneGoal and The Posse Foundation. She was recognized as a 2018 AdWeek rising brand star, a 2016 Surge fellow, and is the founder and co-lead of The Brave Space. 

Act Six was life changing for me,” she says. “I never considered myself a leader before this scholarship. To say Act Six changed my life can hardly capture how I feel. Both my sister and I are Act Six alumna, so the program changed the trajectory of our family and the communities to which we belong.”

“The opportunity to step into the role of board chair to help lead the strategy of an organization that can have such far-reaching impact is one of my greatest honors. I can’t wait to bring our transforming equity work to more communities across the country.”

UPDATE: The application deadline has been extended by four weeks to Tuesday, November 30, 2021