Michelle P. Wimes

Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer || Kansas City

Michelle P. Wimes serves as the Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., one of the nation’s largest labor and employment law firms.  In her role, Michelle leads the firm’s efforts to attract, develop, retain, promote and advance a diverse group of attorneys across the firm’s national platform of 53 offices in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  Additionally, Michelle leads the firm’s attorney training and professional development efforts.  She is based in Ogletree Deakins’ Kansas City office.

Learn more about Michelle P. Wimes

Michelle has extensive experience in delivering strategic leadership, client development, and talent management programming.  She is deft at implementing change management strategies necessary for comprehensive and effective diversity and inclusion and professional development initiatives and programming.  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 the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as local, state and federal courts.

Later, Michelle spent four years on the senior management team of a premier Am Law 100 law firm as their Director of Strategic Initiatives, spearheading diversity and inclusion strategies and programming for lawyers across nine offices in the United States and Europe.

Michelle is a nationally renowned presenter 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 Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, the National Association of Legal Professionals, the National Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, and the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals.

Michelle has been recognized nationally and locally for her many professional contributions. Ingram’s magazine selected Michelle as a member of the “40 Under 40 Class of 2005” and in 2007, Michelle received The Daily Record’s Legal Leader of the Year Award. In 2009, Kansas City’s Call newspaper recognized Michelle as one of the top 25 most influential African-American Kansas Citians. In 2012, Michelle was awarded the Distinguished Arts and Science Alumni Award from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and was featured in the inaugural edition of Who’s Who in Black Kansas City. In 2014, the Societas Docta presented Michelle with the “Nefertiti” award for her demonstrated leadership in the Kansas City community.  And, in 2016, the National Congress of Black Women recognized Michelle with the Shirley Chisholm Award for her public service. Michelle has also been featured in SAVOY magazine, MultiCultural Law magazine, and The Kansas City Business Journal.

Michelle has spent over 20 years volunteering in the community.  She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of St. Teresa’s Academy where she spearheads the school’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.  She was recently elected to UMKC’s Board of Trustees. She also chairs the Diversity Committee of St. Peter’s Catholic School. Michelle served as Founding President of the Gifted Hands’ Domestic Violence Prevention Center for Kansas City’s teen girls for seven years.  In addition, she has served on the University of Central Missouri’s Board of Governors, UMKC’s Alumni Association Board of Directors where she chaired the Minority Affairs Committee, and the UMKC Arts and Sciences Alumni Board.  She was Founding Vice President of KIPP Endeavor Academy, a nationally recognized charter school in Kansas City.

Prior to a career in law, Michelle was an elementary and middle school teacher in Kansas City.  She received a B.A. from UMKC and performed graduate work at the University of Seville in Spain and undergraduate work at the University of Xalapa in Veracruz, Mexico.  Due to her studies and her extensive legal work in Latin America, she is fluent in Spanish.  Michelle earned her law degree, with trial advocacy honors, from Tulane Law School.  She is the proud wife of federal district court judge Brian C. Wimes and the mother of three daughters, Sydney, Gabrielle, and Saige.

Education

  • J.D., Tulane Law School, 1994
  • Graduate Studies, University of Seville, 1988
  • B.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City, 1988
  • Undergraduate Studies, University of Xalapa, 1986

Professional Activities

  • Member, Sports Analytics Club – Kansas City Programming Committee (Fall 2018 to present)
  • Planning Committee Co-Chair, Tulane Law School’s 50th Black Law Alumni Anniversary Celebration (Fall 2018 to Spring 2019)
  • Advisory Council Member, Black Female Attorney Network of Missouri and Kansas
  • Member, Head of School Search Committee, St. Teresa’s Academy (Fall 2018)
  • President, Board of Directors, St. Teresa’s Academy (2016 to 2018); Board Vice President (2014 to 2016); Member (2013-2014)
  • Chair, St. Peter’s Catholic School Diversity Committee (2009 to 2018)
  • President’s Advisory Council, Cristo Rey High School – Kansas City (2017 to present)
  • Advisory Board Member, Black Repertory Theater – Kansas City (2017 to present)
  • Winter Conference Planning Committee, Professional Development Consortium (Fall 2017)
  • Co-Chair, Missouri Bar Annual Meeting (2017)
  • Board of Trustees, The University of Missouri – Kansas City (2016 to present)
  • Co-chair, Star Galaxy Diversity Committee, St. Teresa’s Academy (2014 to 2016)
  • Member, Starr Education Committee, The University of Missouri – Kansas City (2015 to present)
  • Member, The African-American Leadership Advisory Council, The University of Missouri – Kansas City (2015 to present)
  • Mistress of Ceremony, The University of Missouri – Kansas City Annual Alumni Awards Luncheon (2013, 2014)
  • Chair, The Archives Committee, GKC Links Inc. (2012 to 2014)
  • Executive Baron, The American Cancer Society (2012 to 2014)
  • Member, The Greater Kansas City Chapter of The Links, Inc. (2011 to 2014)
  • At-Large Board Member, Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (2009 to 2011)
  • Co-Chair, Information Exchange and Website Committee, Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (2008 to 2011)
  • President, Board of Directors, Gifted Hands Domestic Violence Prevention Center (2004 to 2010); Advisory Board Member (2010 to 2011)
  • Vice President, Board of Directors, KIPP Endeavor Academy (2007 to 2008); Advisory Board Member (2008-2010)
  • Eighth Circuit Federal Practice Advisory Committee Member (2006 to 2008)
  • Council on School Attorneys (1995-1999, 2004 to 2008)
  • Board of Governors, University of Central Missouri (2005 to 2008)
  • Co-Chair, American Cancer Society’s 25th Annual Gala (2006)
  • Board Member, DeLaSalle Education Center (1998 to 2004)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association: Ask a Lawyer Telethon (1996), Speaker at Student Legal Internship Program (2002, 2003), Member of Lawyer’s for Children Committee (2003 to 2007)
  • Relay for Life Team Member, American Cancer Society (2002, 2003)
  • Jackson County Bar Association: Second Vice-President (1996-1998), Corresponding Secretary (1994-1996), and Chair of Kit Carson Roque Scholarship Committee (1998-2000, 2003)
  • Interpreter, Hope House Battered Women’s Shelter (2002)
  • Chair, Minority Affairs Committee, University of Missouri-Kansas City Alumni Association (1995-1999)
  • Board Member, University of Missouri-Kansas City Arts & Sciences Alumni Association (1995-1998)
  • Board Member, United Cerebral Palsy Association (1995-1997)
  • Scholarship Fund-Raising Committee, Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri (1995-1996)
  • Lawyers’ Association of Kansas City: Student Mediation Training Program Volunteer and Speaker for Public Service Committee (1995)

Speeches

  • St. Teresa's Academy Interim Week (Panelist) - "Practicing Law in the 21st Century: Overcoming the Challenges Faced by Women and Minorities" - Kansas City - 2019
  • Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - "In-House Counsel's Role in Driving Success in Diversity and Inclusion" - La Quinta - November 8, 2018
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Creating Inclusive Communities and Embracing Diversity in Divisive Times" - Overland Park - October 18, 2018
  • Black Female Attorney Luncheon - "Strategies to Mitigate Harm Caused By Microagressions" - Kansas City - July 2018
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives and Where They Can Go Wrong" - Phoenix - May 10, 2018
  • American Public Square (Panelist) - "East is East & West is West: Segregation in Kansas City" - Overland Park - 2018
  • Charting Your Own Course - "Deconstructing Grit for the Associate of Color" - Orlando - 2018
  • Inside Diversity XI (Moderator) - "Fireside Chat" - Los Angeles - 2018
  • Pembroke Hill School - "Small Steps We Can Take Towards Racial Unity" - Kansas City - 2018
  • Project Equality - "Three of the Best, What Works and Why" - Kansas City - 2018
  • Charting Your Own Course - "Inside the Performance Review Process: Deconstructing Formal Partner Appraisals and Self-evaluations by Associates" - Orlando - 2017
  • Manual Career & Technical Center Career Fair - "Embracing Technology in the Legal Profession" - Kansas City - 2017
  • National Summit of Black Women Lawyers - "Own the Room: Utilizing Resiliency Strategies to Overcome Implicit Bias and Forge Pathways for Success" - Chicago - 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Managing a Workforce in 2018 - "Diversity and Inclusion: Envisioning the Future Together" - Kansas City - 2017
  • St. Teresa Academy’s Junior Law Society - "So You Want to be a Lawyer: Myths and Truths" - Kansas City - 2017
  • Suburban Balance (Keynote Speaker) - "The Journey to Becoming My Best Self" - Kansas City - 2017
  • The Central Exchange - "Work-Life Integration: The Heart of the Matter" - Kansas City - 2017
  • Charting your Own Course - "Relationship Recovery and Other ‘Moments of Truth’" - Orlando - 2016
  • Corporate Counsel Women of Color - "It Worked For Me, It Can Work For You Too: Tips for Finding Success as a Woman of Color Attorney" - New York - 2016
  • Harvard Law School, 33rd Annual BLSA Spring Conference - "Finding Your Voice: Freedom in Law Firms" - Boston - 2016
  • National Association of Legal Professionals - "Dissolving Siloes: Combining Diversity and Professional Development Efforts for Greater Impact" - Boston - 2016
  • National Association of Legal Professionals - "Microaggresions: Implicit Bias Come to Life" - Boston - 2016
  • Washburn University School of Law Corporate and Law Firm Diversity Symposium - "The Secrets of Top Performers" - Topeka - 2016
  • Charting Your Own Course - "Leveraging the Associate Evaluation As An Asset" - Orlando - 2015
  • Inter-Professional Leadership Conference for Healthcare and Legal Professions (panel member) - "Overcoming Guilt: The Obstacle to Success for Professional Women with Families" - Overland Park - 2015
  • R.U.B.I.E.S., Inc. 2015 No Boys Allowed! Girls Only Conference (Keynote Speaker) - "No Boys Allowed! Girls Only" - Kansas City - 2015
  • The Central Exchange - "Conversations With Your Business Leaders – What Would You Say If You Weren’t Afraid?" - Kansas City - 2015
  • The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance - "Flexibility For All" - Washington, D.C. - 2015
  • The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce (panel member) - "Ask the Experts - Diversity Panel" - Indianapolis - 2015
  • The Missouri Bar - "Diversity Strategies That Work" - St. Louis - 2015
  • Women's Legal Leadership Development Workshop (Panel Member) - "Becoming a Leader of Self" - Kansas City - 2015
  • Missouri Educational Policy Fellows Panel Discussion, Panel Member - "Intersection of Racial Bias, Social and Educational Policy: Lessons Learned from Ferguson, New York City, and Cleveland" - Kansas City - January 2015
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters - "A Night of Mentoring (Panel Member)" - Kansas City - 2014
  • Kansas City Centurions - "Diversity and Inclusion for 21st Century Leaders (Panel Member)" - Kansas City - 2014
  • Legal Marketing Association - "Optimizing and Calculating the ROI of Coaching" - Orlando - 2014
  • National Association of Legal Professionals /Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals’ Diversity and Inclusion Summit - "Building Diverse Top Performers and Empowering the Chief Diversity Officer" - Chicago - 2014
  • National Association of Legal Professionals /Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals’ Diversity and Inclusion Summit (Roundtable Leader) - "Social Isolation: Let's Talk About the Issues (Roundtable Leader)" - Chicago - 2014
  • National Association of Legal Professionals Annual Education Conference (Panel Member) - "The ROI of Coaching: Getting the Most out of the Coaches You Bring to the Firm" - Seattle - 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - "Uncovering Authenticity: The Next Level of Achieving True Inclusion in the Law Department" - Dana Point - 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins' Office Administrators Forum - "Moving Diversity Forward: Culturally Effective Habits for Managing a Diverse Workforce" - Atlanta - 2014
  • Project Equality - "Evolution of Diversity in the U.S. and the Legal Ramifications in the Workplace" - Kansas City - 2014
  • The Diversity Council of the United States Court for the Western District of Missouri - "The Evolution of Diversity in the Workplace" - Kansas City - 2014
  • Kansas City Association of Legal Administrators - "21 Century Strategies: Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment" - Kansas City - 2013
  • Sodexo's Annual Spirit of Partnership Meeting - "Moving a Diversity Initiative Forward in the Legal Profession" - Gaithersburg - 2013
  • The University of Missouri-Kansas City's Annual Arts and Sciences Graduation with Distinction Luncheon - "Keynote Address" - Kansas City - 2013
  • 2012 Diversity Summit sponsored by The Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals and NALP (moderator) - "The Value of Mentors/Sponsorship in the Legal Profession" - Atlanta - 2012
  • BNY Mellon's Legal Department Diversity and Inclusion Council - "Conversations on the Significance of Diversity and Inclusion to the Success of a Corporate Legal Department in a Global Economy" - New York - 2012
  • National Association of Legal Professionals Annual Education Conference (Panel Member) - "Strategic Planning: Examples of Law Firm Performance Measures" - Austin - 2012
  • The University of Missouri-Kansas City's Annual Women of Color Leadership Conference (Panel Member) - "Women and Employment Discrimination: Know Your Rights" - Kansas City - 2012
  • Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (Panel Member) - "Measuring Results of Diversity Initiatives" - New York - 2011
  • Center for Legal Inclusiveness 2011 Legal Inclusiveness and Diversity Summit - "Diversity in Action" - Denver - 2011
  • Center for Legal Inclusiveness 2011 Legal Inclusiveness and Diversity Summit - "Engaging White Males in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts" - Denver - 2011
  • National Association of Legal Professionals Annual Education Conference - "Increasing the Effectiveness, Clarity, Productivity, and Value of Your Organization Through Strategic Planning" - Austin - 2011
  • The Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society - "Workforce 101: Promoting a Diverse Kansas City Business Community" - Kansas City - 2011
  • Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals Annual Conference (Panel Member) - "Reconciling Diversity with Firm Administration" - New York - 2010
  • Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals Annual Conference (Panel Member) - "The Business Case/Measuring Results of Diversity Initiatives" - New York - 2010
  • Baker University Master’s Level Class - "Organizational Development and Diversity" - Overland Park - 2010
  • Cristo Rey High School Student Diversity Training - "Why Diversity Matters" - Kansas City - 2010
  • Defense Research Institute’s Diversity for Success Seminar (Panel Member) - "Should Difference Be Treated Differently?" - Chicago - 2010
  • Hallmark Employee Resource Group Presentation - "21st Century Strategies: Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment" - Kansas City - 2010
  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 11th Annual Creating Pathways Diversity Conference (Panel Member) - "Measuring the Success of your Diversity Marketing: Qualitative Indicators" - New York - 2010
  • NALP & ALI-ABA Professional Development Institute 2010 - "Aligning Associate Competencies and Diversity Principles" - Chicago - 2010
  • National Association of Legal Professionals Annual Education Conference - "Reconciling Diversity, Inclusion & Meritocracy: Challenges & Opportunities" - San Juan - 2010
  • National Bar Association Annual Convention - "A Wake-up Moment: Why Conducting a ‘Success Profile’ Can Help Diverse Lawyers Win in the New Normal" - New Orleans - 2010
  • St. Peter’s School’s Annual Cultural Diversity Bazaar - "Why Diversity Matters" - Kansas City - 2010
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Convocation and Welcome Day - "Keynote Speaker" - Kansas City - 2010
  • July 3, 2018 - Savoy - "A Cut Above: Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Culture via Strategic Professional Development Initiatives"
  • June 2018 - Ogletree Deakins Alumni Network Newsletter - "A Note From Michelle Wimes"
  • May 2018 - LinkedIn - "When Appearances are Deceiving and Why We Need to Look Beyond the Surface"
  • March 8, 2018 - The Global Legal Post - "Helping women lawyers become top leaders"
  • February 2018 - LinkedIn - "Charting Your Own Course of Success: What Does Grit Have To Do With It"
  • January 27, 2018 - Lawfuel - "Pressure for Law Firm Diversity Coming From Attorneys, As Much as Clients"
  • August 2017 - LinkedIn - "One Year Older and One Year Wiser: My Wish For a More Inclusive America"
  • July 2017 - LinkedIn - "Reflections on Being Black in America: We Are Not Monolithic so Stop Treating us as Such"
  • July 2017 - LinkedIn - "Representation Matters: Why Time Magazine Got it Right in Naming Misty Copeland One of the Most Influential People in the World"
  • June 2017 - Bloomberg Big Law Business - "Law Firms Expand Role of Diversity and Inclusion Groups"
  • May 2017 - LinkedIn - "Five Ways to Build a Strong Framework for a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace"
  • May 2017 - LinkedIn - "The Circle: A Unique Approach to Developing Strong Relationships in a Changing Legal Market"
  • May 2017 - LinkedIn - "The Sheryl Sandberg Effect: Reflections of a Working Mom Attorney"
  • April 2017 - LinkedIn - "Reflections on my First White Privilege Conference"
  • May 2016 - NALP Bulletin - "Dissolving Siloes: Combining Professional Development and Diversity & Inclusion Efforts for Greater Impact"
  • May 2016 - Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute Blog - "Five Ways to Build a Strong Framework for a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace"
  • July 2015 - Multicultural Law Magazine - "Ogletree Deakins: Taking Diversity and Inclusion to the Next Level"
  • July 2015 - Thomson Reuters Book Chapter – Inside the Minds: Building and Encouraging Law Firm Diversity - "Micro-Inequities, Intersectionality, Covering, Diversity, and Talent Management: Lessons From One Diverse Attorney’s Experience"
  • May 2014 - Ingram's Magazine - "How to create or reinvigorate your diversity and inclusion program"
  • February 21, 2014 - The Kansas City Business Journal - "How Does One Start and Move Forward on Diversity Initiatives"
  • Summer 2011 - Savoy Magazine - "Top Performance: The Bridge To A Successful Diversity And Inclusion Initiative"
  • November 11, 2009 - 10th Annual Creating Pathways Conference - "White Men As Full Diversity Partners"
  • 2009 - 2011 - The Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (Chief Editor/Producer) - "The Diversity And Inclusion Reporter"
  • August 22, 2018 - Missouri Lawyers Weekly - "Michelle Wimes – Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart"
  • May 2018 - ABA Journal - "4 strategies for effectively implementing a mindfulness program"
  • April 23, 2018 - Thomson Reuters - "New Podcast: Creating a Professional Development Strategy within your Law Firm, with Michelle Wimes of Ogletree Deakins"
  • 2018 - Hustle & Flow with Heather Hubbard Podcast - "#49: The Future of Diversity Programs in Law Firms"
  • 2018 - #BlackHer Blog - "More Than Food, Fun, and Festivities: An Interview with Michelle Wimes"
  • 2018 - Law.com - "Can the ‘Me Too’ Movement Jump-Start Diversity Initiatives in Legal Organizations?"
  • 2018 - LCLD Insider: February 2018 - "In the News"
  • 2018 - Kansas City Star - "Starbucks' afternoon of bias training is too little, too latte for America"
  • 2018 - The Resilient Lawyer Podcast - "Michelle Wimes - Diversity and Inclusion - What Does Your Diversity Story Look Like?"
  • 2018 - The Lawyer of the Week Podcast 'Episode 41, Kansas City, MO' - "Part 1, Michelle Wimes, Chief Diversity and Professional Development Officer, Ogletree Deakins"
  • June 5, 2017 - Big Law Business - "Law Firms Expand Role of Diversity and Inclusion Groups"
  • April 4, 2017 - Bloomberg Big Law Business - "Top Black Attorneys Share Advice with Young Attorneys of Color"
  • 2016 - Law 360 - "Rising up: Millennials Could Force Big Law To Deal With Its Diversity Problem"
  • 2016 - Law360 - "5 Ways Associates Waste Time"
  • 2016 - Law 360 - "The 10 Best Law Firms for Black Attorneys"
  • 2016 - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Blog - "Highlighting Flexibility & Diversity Initiatives: Ogletree Deakins"
  • 2015 - Business Management Daily - "Diversity Case Study – 3 Success Fundamentals"
  • 2014 - The Am Law Daily - "As Many Am Law Firms Get Top LGBT Score, Some Don't Rate at All"
  • 2013 - MultiCultural Law - "Implementing Focused Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives"
  • 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” (2018)
  • Suburban Balance, “Lift Her Up” (2018)
  • National Congress of Black Women, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm “Greater Good” Award for Public Service (2016)
  • Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, “Champion of Change” (2015)
  • Ingram’s Magazine, “50 Missourians You Should Know” (2015)
  • Kansas City Chapter of Societas Docta Incorporated, “Nefertiti Award” (2014)
  • “Who’s Who in Black Kansas City” (2013)
  • The University of Missouri-Kansas City, “Alumni Achievement Award” (2012)
  • The Call Newspaper, “Top 25 Most Influential African-American Lawyers” (2009)
  • Daily Record, “Legal Leader of the Year” (2007)
  • Ingram’s Magazine, “40 Under 40 Class of 2005”

Insights by Michelle P. Wimes