My Purpose Is to:
Make the world a better place than I found it
By Rich Polt
Published August 02, 2012
In Baltimore, Maryland, one of the most influential and venerable organizations is THE ASSOCIATED — our city’s chapter of the Jewish Federation System (FYI: I’m not capitalizing the name for emphasis. That’s how it is actually written).
Michelle Gordon is not the President of THE ASSOCIATED. Nor is she an Executive Vice President, or a C.O. fill-in-the-blank. No … Michelle is the person who keeps them all in line! As Chief of Staff, she manages the Executive Office and governance issues including by-laws compliance, the Board of Directors and the Board of Governors. In addition, she coordinates THE ASSOCIATED’s Corporate Giving program and various other community relations projects. Earlier in her career, Michelle worked at the Arthritis Foundation and Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Michelle was kind enough to take time out of her crazy schedule to answer our Talking GOOD questions.
The 10 questions
IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?
To make the world a better place than I found it.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?”
It is my dream to start a Foundation. Of course, the hardest part will be to narrow my area of interest. I have had the opportunity to watch wonderful people with foundations make tremendous impact on various causes. I also want to inspire my nieces/children to be philanthropists and contribute to the greater good.
IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM?
Oprah – How do you stay strong and continue your humanitarian goals while the public scrutinizes your every move.
WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE?
Every Encounter Matters. Not only is it the professional motto at THE ASSOCIATED but it’s one of my core beliefs, especially here in Baltimore. You will work with people over and over again and you are only as good as the first impression you make.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
Who would play me, or who do I wish would play me? Kate Winslet – a beautiful strong actress but with a funny side.
WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING?
Respect is earned. So do what you say you are going to do. Many of my successes have come from being responsible and delivering on what I promise to do. I have encountered so many people that want a special title or to sit in the corner office because they believe it will make them more successful. I believe those things don’t matter. If you are a trusted partner, everything else will fall into place.
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES?
My grandfather. He is 87 and still working every day. He is an extraordinarily devoted family man who built a successful business on his own.
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I can’t imagine my life without working for a nonprofit. I think that if I had to switch causes, I would devote my time to animal rights and/or women’s health issues.
TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF.
I might be serious during the day but I can be a total goofball at times. It is good to let your hair down and just be silly after a long day.
WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED?
QUESTION: Why a career in nonprofit? ANSWER: It is rewarding to wake up each day knowing that I am making a difference. It might not be direct service delivery, but each staff member of a not-for-profit keeps the wheels in motion and has an impact on the greater good.