Michelle was on a seemingly satisfying path in life. She was in her late 30s, a successful hedge fund marketing manager and enjoying the excitement of living in San Francisco. But when Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer, it threw her life into a completely different direction.


Over the course of 12 months, Michelle underwent surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. It was during this period that Michelle discovered the then newly-formed BAYS group. In addition to BAYS’ monthly support groups and online community, Michelle took part in the 2005 Challenge Event, climbing Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park.


After the bulk of her cancer treatments had ended, Michelle realized she didn’t survive this ordeal in order to go back to her old life. Instead, she quit her job and traveled around the world for a year, visiting 18 countries and volunteering in Tanzania and Cambodia. She returned to San Francisco and a new job in finance, but soon found herself craving both adventure and a more meaningful career.
Michelle lived in Kigali, Rwanda and worked throughout East Africa for a non-profit organization focused on helping rural entrepreneurs in the developing world. Using her finance skills for a different purpose, she is especially proud of establishing a pioneering $10 million credit facility benefiting 45,000 Ethiopian coffee farmers. Michelle has since moved back to the Bay Area, continuing to work in sustainable finance. Michelle credits breast cancer with setting her life in this rewarding new direction.