Michelle Wimes, JD

Senior Vice President & Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Children's Mercy

Michelle is a strategic leader who is deft at implementing change management strategies necessary for a comprehensive and effective diversity and inclusion and professional development program. In her current role, Michelle has been charged with being a strategic advisor and educator to the Children’s Mercy Hospital System (CM) where she uses data to assess cultural competency and develops action plans to close gaps. Representing the perspective of patients, families, employees, community partners, and suppliers, she also collaborates with CM leaders to address health disparities and foster a workplace culture of inclusion while establishing and maintaining relationships with peers and partners in key organizations.

Michelle was most recently the Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer for Ogletree Deakins, LLP where she built an award-winning program from the ground up over the course of nine years.

Previously, Michelle practiced law for 14 years, where she handled all aspects of employment litigation while serving as an equity partner at a Kansas City-based firm. She focused on matters involving employment discrimination, harassment, and civil rights issues while representing clients before administrative agencies and courts.

Michelle is a nationally renowned presenter and author on professional development, diversity and inclusion issues in the workplace on topics such as, “Engaging Decision-makers and Practice Group Leaders in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts;” “Aligning Associate Competencies and Diversity Principles;” and “Reconciling Diversity, Inclusion & Meritocracy: Challenges & Opportunities.” She has presented before organizations such as the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Practicing Law Institute, The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance, the National Association of Legal Professionals, the Professional Development Institute, and the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals.

Michelle has been recognized for her many professional contributions. She received the Sly James Diversity and Inclusion Award given to members of the Kansas City area legal community for their contributions to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession in 2020. In 2018, she received Missouri Lawyer Media’s inaugural diversity and inclusion award honoring 20 state-wide individuals and organizations “for significantly advancing diversity, inclusion and dignity of all people in Missouri’s legal profession.” In 2016, she received the National Congress of Black Women’s “Greater Good Award for Public Service” and was selected as a Champion of Change by the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center in 2015. Ingram’s Magazine also honored her in 2015 as one of “50 Missourians You Should Know.”

Michelle has also been published in the ABA Journal, The Federal Lawyer Magazine, Bloomberg Law, MultiCultural Law, and Global Legal Post. She resides in Kansas City with her husband, Judge Brian C. Wimes, and their three daughters.

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