Michelle Burnett Announced as SIA's New ED & CEO

Press Release

Soroptimist Announces Michelle Burnett As New Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer
Taking helm of global women’s organization

November 2, 2021
Contact: Kymberlie Adams, Director, Marketing Communications

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—Soroptimist International of the Americas, Inc., a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment, welcomes Michelle J. Burnett, of Wyncote, Pa., as its new Executive Director/CEO. She replaces Soroptimist’s long-time Executive Director/CEO, Elizabeth M. Lucas of Lake Bluff, Ill., who resigned in August 2021. Burnett is the first woman of color to hold this position at Soroptimist.

Burnett has served as Soroptimist Chief Operating & Financial Officer since October 2019. In that role, she provided direction, management, and the vision necessary to ensure Soroptimist had the appropriate resources and systems in place to effectively support the organization’s growing impact while ensuring its financial strength and operating efficiency.

Since September 2021, Burnett served as the organization's Interim Executive Director/CEO, a position appointed by the Board of Directors in July 2021. In this role, she assumed the additional responsibilities of SIA Executive Director/CEO.

Prior to Soroptimist, Burnett served as chief financial officer at Turning Points for Children, a Public Health Management Corporation affiliate, that brings social and health services to vulnerable youth and families in Philadelphia. While there, she was a key member of the executive leadership team that guided the organization through rapid growth from 70 employees and annual revenue of $8 million to over 700 employees and annual revenues of $66 million in less than five years. She began her career in the United States Navy as a Contracting Officer in 1994. Her career includes over 20 years of quasi-government and nonprofit financial management, consulting, and capacity-building experience.

Currently, Soroptimist is celebrating 100 years of being a global voice for women and girls. With this milestone, the organization recently launched its Dream Big Campaign. This capital campaign aims to raise $15M to reach their Big Goal of investing in the dreams of a half million women and girls through access to education by 2031. The input of Burnett and the thoughtful decisions of Boards of Directors will be pivotal in driving the strategy for this initiative's success.

"I am honored and thankful to the board for this opportunity. It has been through many remarkable accomplishments that our leaders, members, and staff have laid a strong foundation over the past 100 years,” says Burnett. “I am looking forward to partnering with them as we build on that foundation and position SIA to support and encourage women and girls into the next 100 years. This is an exciting time to be a Soroptimist and I am eager to see what we will accomplish together."

As Soroptimist’s Executive Director/CEO, Burnett will guide the overall operations and services provided to members and women and girls worldwide. Working with the Board of Directors, she will craft the organization’s strategic direction and ensure resources to scale impact. In addition, she will guide the organization’s brand strengthening campaign and efforts to engage more people in the Soroptimist mission.

“We are so pleased to welcome Michelle J. Burnett as our new Chief Executive Officer,” says Soroptimist President Kazuko Morita. “As we look forward, we are confident that Michelle’s experience and her passion makes her uniquely qualified to help Soroptimist transition into our next chapter and continue to serve our enduring mission as an inclusive, supportive organization that stands ready to improve the lives of women and girls through education.”

Burnett holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Temple University. She also earned a Master of Business Administration from Eastern University and postgraduate certificates in human resource management and nonprofit executive leadership from Cornell University and Bryn Mawr University. Currently, Michelle is pursuing a doctoral degree in Strategic Leadership at Liberty University.

Thanks to Koya Partners for their assistance with our successful search.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Soroptimist (Soroptimist.org) provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment through the work of volunteers in countries throughout North America, Latin America and the Pacific Rim. Its Soroptimist Dream Programs (the Live Your Dream Awards and Dream It, Be It) ensure women and girls have access to the education and training they need to reach their full potential. The Live Your Dream Awards has disbursed almost $35 million in awards to tens of thousands of women since the award-winning program began in 1972. Dream It, Be It has helped more than 35,000 girls since it launched in 2015. A 501(c)(3) organization that relies on charitable donations to support its programs, Soroptimist also powers LiveYourDream.org®, an online community that offers volunteer opportunities in support of women and girls.



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