Michele Sullivan is the President of Caterpillar Foundation, the philanthropy arm of heavy equipment giant Caterpillar Corporation. Caterpillar, with revenue of over USD 38 billion in 2016, has contributed over USD 685 million worldwide to partners who champion programs that support education, environment and basic human needs - which helps people help themselves out of poverty.
Born a little person, Michele had to endure many years of orthopedic surgeries and other challenges but she remained determined and resilient, and continues to have expectations of herself that are stronger than any challenges she had faced. Because of her condition, she has to move around in a wheelchair but that has never stopped her from sharing the stage with powerhouse celebrities like Beyonce, JayZ and Hugh Jackman in her effort to create more awareness of the causes she supports.
In October 2016, Michele spoke at the TEDWomen Conference in San Francisco where she shared her personal story and how she coped and handled with the condition that she was born with. She believes that it is important that a person should ask for help and should be given assistance and the opportunity, but it is also equally important that person have to move along with the opportunity given in order to be successful. She believes everyone can achieve what they dream or aspire to be, regardless of the conditions they're born in.
Michele had spent 30 years at Caterpillar and she was appointed the President of the Caterpillar Foundation in 2011. She is the first female President of the foundation, since it's founding in 1952. During her tenure as President, she shifted Caterpillar's philanthropy efforts from being a transactional to being global and strategic, that focuses on Corporate Social Innovation. Under Michele's leadership, the Foundation has also begun to focus on policy work as Michele and her team believe sustainable changes in policy are necessary to making real change happen. The Caterpillar Foundation has changed from being operational to being influential and a thought leader under Michele's guidance.
She is also a board member of ONE Campaign, an organization that advocates and campaigns to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa. ONE is co-founded by Bono, the lead singer of the band U2.
In 2016, Michele is named as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. She was also named one of the 100 top global women representing the most important women who have made an impact worldwide by Diplomatic Courier. Michele also served as a U.S. delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
Michele is a strong advocate of gender equality and empowerment of women. She believes to alleviate poverty, investments need to be made on girls and women to break the cycle of generational poverty. She also speaks regularly to people of all ages about equality and resilience.
Michele Sullivan is available for speaking engagement via London Speaker Bureau.