Reared on the Jamaican spices of the Caribbean and the mirepoix of New Orleans Southern gumbo, gadabout/creative Michelle E.L. Merritt was born on the planet of Brooklyn and for over two decades has called the Windy City home.

For over a decade, Michelle dedicated her career to the community and economic development real estate sector, revitalizing distressed communities. In 2013, she shifted her career focus to follow her creative passions in the arts and culture sector. In 2015, Michelle pursued an entrepreneurial opportunity and opened an ‘arts salon’ where she co-led the curating of emerging artist exhibits, event planning, and arts-related programming. Currently, Michelle is developing a social practice focused on engaging arts and culture as a tool in equitable community building and preservation.

In addition, Michelle works as an independent consultant supporting local, small nonprofit organizations and social enterprise start-ups in curating pop-ups, events and programs, capacity building, and business development. She also teaches arts entrepreneurship to youth in the Woodlawn community.

Michelle received a bachelor’s degree in history from Hampton University and a master’s degree in arts administration from Columbia College Chicago. She is a proud native New Yorker and currently resides in the culturally rich Pilsen community of Chicago.