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2024 Top 20 Impact Makers Honorees

Michelle Bair, PhD
2024 Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker Award

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Awards Presentation

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Four Seasons Hotel Houston

Dr. Michelle Bair is a nonprofit leader dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of those most in need.

 

Currently, Michelle serves as the president and CEO of Faith In Practice, an ecumenical nonprofit organization that provides vital primary medical and specialty surgical care to underserved men, women, and children in Guatemala. Through deep partnerships with Guatemalan-based social hospitals, business leaders, and indigenous community leaders, Faith In Practice provides life-changing care to 20,000 patients each year through ongoing medical programs and 42 medical mission trips. Mission trips are led by industry-leading surgeons, primary and specialty care doctors, and nurses, as well as nonclinical personnel who serve as team administrators, bloggers, chaplains, and more.

 

Since joining Faith In Practice in late October of 2022, Michelle’s focus has been on fostering relationships among global stakeholders. She is responsible for the overall vision and health of the organization and frequently travels to Guatemala to build relationships with Faith In Practice’s Guatemalan-based partners and staff, participate in surgical and medical clinic missions, and serve those most in need. 

 

According to Faith In Practice Board Chair, Cary Moorhead, MD, “Michelle stepped into the CEO role at Faith in Practice with an energy and enthusiasm that has been infectious. On her arrival, Michelle saw the need for Faith in Practice to develop a strategic plan that would provide a clear path forward for our organization. Through careful work with the board and the management team both in the United States and Guatemala, she was able to help the organization to crystalize its goals so that we could better express them to ourselves and to others.”

 

The daughter of two navy nurses, Michelle originally went to college to study nursing.  While at the University of Florida, she was awarded scholarships to remain in the music department and chose to continue her studies with an arts and nonprofit focus.  Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida as well as a master’s and a doctoral degree from Texas Tech University.

 

A great point of pride for Michelle is her volunteer work with Étoile Academy Charter School, a K-8 network of schools located in Southwest Houston. She had the opportunity to join as a founding member of the board when Étoile only had approval from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) allowing the board to create a school, an extraordinarily talented superintendent, and a vision to provide high quality education to some of Houston’s most underserved children. Étoile enthusiastically opened its doors in 2018 with less than 100 children, persevered and grew through COVID, and continues to provide a private school-like experience and rigorous academic curriculum to all Étoile students. 

 

In close partnership with the superintendent, Michelle led the Étoile board and key stakeholders through a strategic planning process to ensure immediate and long-term growth was attainable. Today, Étoile Academy Charter School serves 900 students between its two campuses and has launched an active $50 million comprehensive campaign to grow its enrollment capacity to 5,000 high quality seats over the next ten years.  

 

Kayleigh Colombero, superintendent of Étoile Academy Charter School, articulates Michelle’s importance to the institution this way: “As the Board Chair of Étoile Academy Charter School, she has raised more than $29 million dollars and helped us grow from 75 students to 900 students. She led our strategic planning process and ensured the board had a clear vision for the next ten years of growth and improvement. She was instrumental in our work to secure capital and purchase a new facility for our second campus, which opened in August 2023. Thanks to her work, we will provide free, high-quality education to some of Houston’s most underserved children. She is truly an impact maker in the space of Houston education through her leadership, engagement, and fundraising.”

 

Michelle is mother to two very active boys, aged four and eight, and wife to an incredibly dedicated husband and father, Jeremy. She takes great pride in building strong and lasting relationships with her colleagues, mentors, and team members and actively seeks knowledge-sharing opportunities with individuals throughout her network. Michelle credits her success to her parents who loved her unconditionally and always supported her ambitions, mentors who invested their time in her development, challenging experiences that provided opportunities for her to grow personally and professionally, a desire to develop meaningful relationships with others, and the privilege to serve organizations that are in alignment with her values.

 

It is for all the reasons mentioned above, and many more, that Dr. Michelle Bair has been named a Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker for 2024. 

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