Michelle Gilliard

You have to understand how things work in real life if you want to be serious about making change. I try to understand the problems I’m dealing with on a granular level.

I’ve always worked at the intersection of education, philanthropy and social change. I’ve been in this field for more than 20 years now.

I grew up on college campuses. My parents were both educators so I guess I always assumed I would be working in higher education.

Our family vacations were always very educational. We visited historic places, monuments, and my parents would tell us the history behind it. It was a lot of fun.

My generation and our aspirations are what Dr. Martin Luther King fought for. I grew up understanding that I was gaining access to certain opportunities, experiences and resources that others were denied. I also understood that I stood on the shoulders of those who came before me and that I have a responsibility to give back to my community.

I’ve always been interested in trying to improve the condition of vulnerable, disenfranchised populations, and the way that I’ve gone about that is by building the capacity of organizations to serve their clients equitably.

When I came to VPP I had always been working at the national level, but I wanted to start working in my own community. VPP was attractive to me because of the type of investments we make and how we approach our work.

I love experiencing humanity in action. When I’m not working I gravitate toward art, culture, culinary experiences, and lots of international travel.

I’ve had the privilege of working for some incredibly smart, driven, passionate people. I like to work with the people who have a vision for growing incredible organizations.

I love working at VPP, because we’re learning, evolving and innovating all the time.