Michelle P. Wimes
Michelle P. Wimes serves as the Director of Professional Development and Inclusion 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 45 offices in the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, she leads the firm's attorney training and professional development efforts. Michelle is based in Ogletree Deakins' Kansas City office.
From 2008 to 2011 Michelle served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P., a nationally recognized global product liability firm where she worked closely with the firm's Executive, Search, Professional Development, Associate and Diversity committees as well as the Women’s Management Council and the Mentoring Task Force to coordinate diversity initiatives across the firm’s nine city offices in the United States and Europe.
Under her leadership, Michelle garnered national recognition for Shook including the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Thomas L. Sager Award, Altria Law Department’s Inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award, The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index Award, Working Mother and Flex-Time Best Law Firms for Women Award, and The Coca-Cola Legal Department’s Inaugural Living the Values Diversity Award.
Michelle recently completed a two year term on the Executive Board of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals, a national organization dedicated to improving diversity in the legal profession. Additionally, 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.
Earlier in her legal career, Michelle 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.
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 in 2013, Michelle 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. Michelle has also been featured in SAVOY magazine, MultiCultural Law magazine, and The Kansas City Business Journal.
Michelle continues to be active in her community. She is currently on the Board of Directors of St. Teresa's Academy where she spearheads the school's diversity and inclusion initiatives. She chairs the Archives Committee of The Greater Kansas City chapter of The Links, Inc. and served as an Executive Baron for the American Cancer Society’s annual Cattle Baron’s Ball. She 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 the University of Missouri 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 and Honors
J.D., Tulane Law School, 1994
Graduate Studies, University of Seville, 1988-89
B.A., University of Missouri, 1988
Undergraduate Studies, University of Xalapa, 1986
- Kansas City Chapter of Societas Docta Incorporated, "2014 Nefertiti Award"
- "Who's Who in Black Kansas City" (2013)
- The University of Missouri-Kansas City, “2012 Alumni Achievement Award”
- 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”
- Human Capital Media Research Advisory Board (2013 to present)
- Board Member, St. Teresa's Academy (2013 to present)
- Executive Baron, The American Cancer Society (2012 to present)
- Chair, The Archives Committee, GKC Links Inc. (2012 to present)
- Member, The Greater Kansas City Chapter of The Links, Inc. (2011 to present)
- Chair, St. Peter’s Catholic School Diversity Committee (2009 to present)
- 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)
- Kansas City Centurions - "Diversity and Inclusion for 21st Century Leaders (Panel Member)" - 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
- Project Equality - "Evolution of Diversity in the U.S. and the Legal Ramifications in the Workplace" - Kansas City - 2014
- Legal Marketing Association - "Optimizing and Calculating the ROI of Coaching" - Orlando - 2014
- NALP/ALFDP Diversity and Inclusion Summit - "Talent Management and Coaching" - Chicago - 2014
- Sodexo's Annual Spirit of Partnership Meeting - "Moving a Diversity Initiative Forward in the Legal Profesion" - Gaithersburg - 2013
- Kansas City Association of Legal Administrators - "21 Century Strategies: Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment" - Kansas City - 2013
- The University of Missouri-Kansas City's Annual Arts and Sciences Graduation with Distinction Luncheon - "Keynote Address" - Kansas City - 2013
- 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
- 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
- Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (Panel Member) - "Measuring Results of Diversity Initiatives" - New York - 2011
- The Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society - "Workforce 101: Promoting a Diverse Kansas City Business Community" - Kansas City - 2011
- Center for Legal Inclusiveness 2011 Legal Inclusiveness and Diversity Summit - "Diversity in Action" - Denver - 2011
In The News
- 2014 - - "As Many Am Law Firms Get Top LGBT Score, Some Don't Rate at All"
- 2013 - - "Implementing Focused Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives"
- 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"