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 recruit, orient, retain, promote and advance a diverse group of attorneys across the firm’s national platform of 41 offices in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Additionally, she leads the training of the firm’s attorneys and staff by developing and implementing performance management practices and professional competencies. 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, and in 2012 Michelle was awarded the Distinguished Arts and Science Alumni Award from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Michelle has also been featured in SAVOY magazine (Summer 2009, Summer 2011), MultiCultural Law magazine (Spring/Summer 2009, Fall 2011), and The Kansas City Business Journal (September 2012).
Michelle has been active in her community by serving in leadership positions. She is currently chairing the Archives Committee of The Greater Kansas City chapter of The Links, Inc. and has been selected as an Executive Baron for the American Cancer Society’s annual Cattle Baron’s Ball. She served as President of the Gifted Hands’ Domestic Violence Prevention Center for seven years. 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 has also served as Vice President of KIPP Endeavor Academy, a nationally recognized charter school in Kansas City, and as co-chair of the American Cancer Society-Kansas City’s 25th Annual Gala.
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 newly appointed 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
- 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”
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- NALP & ALI-ABA Professional Development Institute 2010 - "Aligning Associate Competencies and Diversity Principles" - Chicago - 2010
- Baker University Master’s Level Class - "Organizational Development and Diversity" - Overland Park - 2010
- National Association of Legal Professionals Annual Education Conference - "Reconciling Diversity, Inclusion & Meritocracy: Challenges & Opportunities" - San Juan - 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
- Cristo Rey High School Student Diversity Training - "Why Diversity Matters" - Kansas City - 2010
- St. Peter’s School’s Annual Cultural Diversity Bazaar - "Why Diversity Matters" - Kansas City - 2010
In The News
- 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"