Michele Hunt

Tuesday, Sept. 24, Noon Luncheon Keynote


Michele HuntAt this year's Growing Sustainable Communities Conference, Michele Hunt will share her thoughts on The Power of Visionary Leadership, which she defines as leaders who put vision and values to work to achieve extraordinary success. Ms. Hunt experienced visionary leadership first-hand when she served as corporate vice president for people and quality on Herman Miller's executive leadership team.

After decades of success, the company was faced with an alarming number of global competitors, quality issues and eroding employee morale. Max De Pree, the CEO and chairman at the time, called for a company-wide transformation. They mobilized and engaged their employees and key stakeholders in the creation of a compelling shared-vision and shared-values, then aligned their strategies, goals, systems and leadership decisions to serve their new vision and values. Herman Miller's commitment to visionary leadership helped them to discover that it is possible to innovate for the greater good and be profitable. This bedrock principle resulted in Herman Miller achieving phenomenal, sustainable results including:

  • Fortune's Most Admired Companies List (22 out of the last 26 years)
  • Best Products by BusinessWeek
  • Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For
  • Best Company for Women
  • Best Company for Working Mothers
  • The Best Managed Company: Corporate Culture of Partnership - Bertelsmann Foundation
  • Most Environmentally Responsible Corporation - Fortune and The White House
  • A return to double-digit growth; two stock splits in the following three years

Michele Hunt says, "Having the courage to include family, social and environmental responsibility in our values brought out the good in us - and the best in us. These values helped us to see the connections between the products and services we provided and people, families, communities and the environment. We became acutely aware that 'doing well by doing good' made good business sense and was the best way to achieve long-term sustainable results. Personally, it was an exciting and deeply fulfilling way to work."

Ms. Hunt is internationally known for her work as a change catalyst and "thinking partner" to leaders of organizations and communities on leadership development, organizational transformation, and organizational effectiveness. She works with leaders and their teams to help transform their organizations to higher levels of participation, teamwork and performance. Her work is rooted in the principles of shared vision, values, alignment and continuous learning.

She launched her firm in 1995, and her customers have included leadership teams of IBM, Motorola, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Popular, Inc. EVERTEC, Banco Popular of North America, Bright China Management Institute, Banco Do Brazil, BHP of Australia, The US Veterans Administration, Food and Drug Administration, National Park Service, the leadership team of the Chicago Public Schools, Junior Achievement of New York City, World Vision International, the Episcopal Divinity School at Harvard, and the Aruba Quality Foundation - Community Vision Project.

Ms. Hunt is also a keynote speaker at conferences around the world for businesses, not for profit organizations and communities. Her presentations are founded on her belief that people have the capacity to create far better futures than we have dared to dream. She comes to these beliefs through her personal and professional experiences and through her research on others who have dreamed big and turned their dreams into reality.

In 1992 Ms. Hunt served on President Bill Clinton's Transition Team. In 1993 she was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the executive director of the Federal Quality Institute. The institute's mission was to help seed the reinvention of government agencies as a part President Clinton's initiative The National Performance Review: Creating a Government That Works Better and Cost Less, led by Vice President Al Gore. She brought progressive thought leaders and organizations to work alongside the Cabinet Deputy Secretaries in a public-private partnership on this initiative including: Peter Drucker, John Gardner, Max De Pree, Frances Hesselbein, Peter Senge, GE, Ford, and Herman Miller.

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Hunt spent 13 years with Herman Miller, Inc., a Fortune 500 global office furniture company. She served on the executive leadership team as senior vice president for people, reporting to De Pree. In this capacity she led the company's organizational transformation. She was responsible for global leadership development, "human resources", quality management, corporate communications, and change management. During her years with the company, Ms. Hunt also served as director of corporate relations including: government, media, shareholder and community relations.

She began her career with the Michigan Department of Corrections as one of the first two female probation officers to supervise adult male felons on probation in Detroit. She served as executive director of Michigan's only halfway house for female felons, and later became Michigan's first female deputy warden, leading programs for rehabilitation in a male prison.

Ms. Hunt is the author of the book DreamMakers: Putting Vision & Values To Work. She is also the conceptual director of the documentary DreamMakers, a film that features compelling stories of people who made their hopes and dreams come true, against tremendous obstacles. In 2010 she published the second book in her DreamMakers series, DreamMakers: Agents of Transformation, published in Brazil and featuring Brazilian DreamMakers. She also contributed chapters to The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge; Leading People, by Robert Rosen and The Diversity Action Book, by Janet Crenshaw Smith.

She has served as an adjunct professor in the Executive Education Program at Georgetown University, and she's served on the boards of directors of Hewitt Associates, ServiceMaster Company and the board of trustees of Union Institute and University. She currently serves on the boards of directors of the Center for Digital Inclusion (www.cdi.org.br) and the Detroit Windsor Dance Academy.

She earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in sociology from Eastern Michigan University and the University of Detroit, respectively.