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Michelle Morales (she/her) is a trailblazer who has overcome significant obstacles to success in her career and personal life. Despite being born to a working-class, military Puerto Rican family and moving around frequently as a child, Michelle became the first person in her family to attend and complete college and the first to visit Puerto Rico in nearly 50 years.

Michelle’s career has been marked by a series of firsts. She is the first and only person in her family to hold a job like her current CEO/president/executive director role at the Woods Fund Chicago. This is her second job in this type of leadership position, and she has been working hard to overcome past traumas and toxic traits related to control and trust.

Michelle’s personal life is equally inspiring. She is living with metastatic breast cancer, which has led her to engage in healing and spirit work. She recently started practicing Santeria and praying to her orisha, despite being raised Catholic and previously cynical about organized religion. Michelle is also married and has an 18-year-old son. 

Despite her challenges, Michelle is a resilient and courageous leader committed to positively impacting her community. She inspires others facing similar obstacles and is a testament to the power of hard work, perseverance, and self-reflection.

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