The Kansas City Star announced in December that they were bringing together an advisory board of diverse and accomplished business leaders, activists and public servants to work with editors and reporters to ensure that their coverage of Kansas City’s communities of color is fair and expansive. A member of that advisory group is 2014 GMLC Graduate Michele Watley.

Michele is founder and owner of The Griot Group, a consulting firm based in Kansas City focused on bringing together the people, institutions and resources necessary to generate advocacy and change. She is also founder of Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet, a nonpartisan, nonprofit dedicated to amplifying the voices and power of Black women to be more effective advocates for issues impacting the communities they serve. Watley began with a successful career in carpentry before delving into the world of political advocacy. In 2016, she served as national African American outreach political director for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. She has worked with government agencies and nonprofits, including the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, and The Hague Conference on Private and International Law located in the Netherlands.

You can learn more about Michele’s work with Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet by listening to a recent podcast of KCUR Up-to-Date, Segment 1, beginning at 4:13 as Michele discusses plans to use the collective power of Black women to influence public policy, how it determines the issues most important to Black women, then works to affect needed change. She also outlined the disproportionate negative impacts of the #COVID pandemic on Black women.