Michelle P. Wimes

Director of Professional Development & Inclusion Kansas City

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 47 offices in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Additionally, she leads the firm’s attorney training and professional development efforts. Michelle is based in Ogletree Deakins’ Kansas City office.


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.  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 Vice President of the Board of Directors of St. Teresa’s Academy where she spearheads the school’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.  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 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.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • Co-Chair, Star Galaxy Diversity Committee, St. Teresa's Academy (2014 to present)
  • Member, The African-American Leadership Advisory Council, The University of Missouri - Kansas City (2015 to present)
  • Mistress of Ceremony, University of Missouri - Kansas City Annual Alumni Awards Luncheon (2013-2014)
  • Human Capital Media Research Advisory Board (2013-present)
  • Board Member, St. Teresa's Academy (2013-present)
  • Executive Baron, The American Cancer Society (2012-2014)
  • Chair, The Archives Committee, GKC Links Inc. (2012-2014)
  • Member, The Greater Kansas City Chapter of The Links, Inc. (2011-2014)
  • Chair, St. Peter’s Catholic School Diversity Committee (2009-present)
  • At-Large Board Member, Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (2009-2011)
  • Co-Chair, Information Exchange and Website Committee, Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (2008-2011)
  • President, Board of Directors, Gifted Hands Domestic Violence Prevention Center (2004 to 2010); Advisory Board Member (2010-2011)
  • Vice President, Board of Directors, KIPP Endeavor Academy (2007-2008); Advisory Board Member (2008-2010)
  • Eighth Circuit Federal Practice Advisory Committee Member (2006-2008)
  • Council on School Attorneys (1995-1999, 2004-2008)
  • Board of Governors, University of Central Missouri (2005-2008)
  • Co-Chair, American Cancer Society's 25th Annual Gala (2006)
  • Board Member, DeLaSalle Education Center (1998-2004)
  • 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 (2003-2007)
  • 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)


  • 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
  • Women's Legal Leadership Development Workshop (Panel Member) - ''Becoming a Leader of Self'' - Kansas City - 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
  • The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce (panel member) - ''Ask the Experts - Diversity Panel'' - Indianapolis - 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
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters - ''A Night of Mentoring (Panel Member)'' - Kansas City - 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins' Office Administrators Forum - ''Moving Diversity Forward: Culturally Effective Habits for Managing a Diverse Workforce'' - Atlanta - 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
  • Sodexo's Annual Spirit of Partnership Meeting - ''Moving a Diversity Initiative Forward in the Legal Profession'' - 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
  • 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
  • Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals Annual Conference (Panel Member) - ''The Business Case/Measuring Results of Diversity Initiatives'' - New York - 2010
  • Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals Annual Conference (Panel Member) - ''Reconciling Diversity with Firm Administration'' - New York - 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
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Convocation and Welcome Day - ''Keynote Speaker'' - Kansas City - 2010

Our Insights

Published Works



Media Quotes

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"
2014 - The Am Law Daily - "As Many Am Law Firms Get Top LGBT Score, Some Don't Rate at All"