Michelle D. Tucker understands impact.
As the new president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis, Michelle brings with her 20 years of experience in corporate grantmaking and nonprofit leadership. This experience combined with her service on United Way’s community investment committee and Leadership Giving societies have afforded her a strong understanding of the issues facing our region.
And through it all, she’s remained rooted in a strong commitment to the place she calls home.
We sat down with Michelle to hear her thoughts on her vision for the St. Louis region and what inspires her as she works to make it a reality.
How has your upbringing prepared you for your work in non-profits and for this role?
Growing up in East St. Louis, my parents taught my siblings and me to be grateful, humble and to care about others. My family focused less on the pursuit of “wants” but primarily on what was needed first. I always felt like I had enough, and when I would see people that didn’t, I felt it was an opportunity to try to help. These and other early lessons continue to guide my actions and decision making today.
What are your visions/hopes for the St. Louis region?
My vision is for St. Louis to successfully establish our region as one of the most diverse and sought-after, pace-setting markets in the country. Now is the time.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I continue to be inspired by everyday people who find success through resourcefulness, innovative thinking, small business startups, raising healthy families and appreciating the simple things in life.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest professional challenge came early in my career after making the decision to remain near my family in St. Louis and decline offers to relocate. We are a very close family, and I’ve always felt that family is first.
However, working for a national organization, this decision meant I could be passed up for significant promotions. Over the years I worked diligently to expand my knowledge base, capabilities and professional network to help establish a strong local reputation. I could not be happier with where that decision led me.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
I love spending time with my family, especially my mom. I try to take every opportunity to find brief adventures, locations and events to expose her to that she’s never experienced. It’s extremely rewarding for me when I know she’s having fun and enjoying life.
I also design costume jewelry as a hobby. My creations are bold and custom pieces. This, in addition to my passion for the culinary arts, is how I retreat and unwind. I find that designing jewelry and preparing tasty and beautiful meals helps feed my passion for creativity.
Finally, I enjoy volunteering. I am currently a member of The Archway Missouri Chapter of Links, Incorporated, which is one of the nation’s oldest and largest African American volunteer service organizations for professional women. We volunteer at local nonprofit agencies and across the region to positively impact the community through our efforts and outreach.
What is your favorite local eatery?
Eleven Eleven Mississippi.
What is the last book you read?
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander and “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.
What is one word/phrase that describes you, and why?
“Passion should meet your professional life.”
I’m extremely passionate about helping people. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been the person who likes to lift other people.
I cannot think of a better way today to positively impact so many lives around me than to serve within my current role as president and CEO at the United Way of Greater St. Louis. What a blessing.
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Emily Becherer is a proud native St. Louisan, writer and lover of stories in all their forms. Faced with a captivating question, she will research her way down a rabbit hole and emerge with words that educate and inspire. You can probably find her taking in a musical, bingeing through a new podcast series, exploring the trails at local parks or curating her extensive library of Spotify playlists.