Michelle J. DePass

Former CEO

She / Her
michellej [at] mmt.org

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
President Barack Obama

Michelle is passionate about her commitment to the ongoing struggles of women, people of color, indigenous communities, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities to overcome the structural and historical barriers to social and political equality and economic justice. 

Michelle’s career has spanned law, community organizing, philanthropy, policy-making and higher education. She has worked on both coasts, at all levels of government and in the nonprofit sector. She has brought principles of equity, diversity and inclusion to the table in all her past endeavours and is excited to build on these experiences in Oregon with her incredibly talented and dedicated colleagues at Meyer.

I believe our contemporary political reality calls for an end to surface-level, single-issue engagements.

Meyer’s equity focus can help us encourage deeper cross-movement and institutional solidarity in our communities across the state, for the benefit of all Oregonians.

Michelle began her career as the founding executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, a membership network supporting grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their struggle for environmental justice. She subsequently worked as a program officer at the Ford Foundation, where she created funding initiatives focused on the intersection of environmental justice and community and economic development. This work included the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, which supported community-led rebuilding efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and ReGenerations, a national youth organizing program that linked environmental justice with reproductive rights, culture and policy advocacy.

As assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, she participated in international environmental treaty negotiations and created the Office of International and Tribal Affairs, elevating for the first time the agency's recognition of the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples in the United States.

Prior to joining Meyer, Michelle served as dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School, shepherding both the program and the university toward environmental stewardship and a greater focus on social justice. She simultaneously held positions as the Tishman Professor of Environmental Policy and Management and director of The New School's Tishman Environment and Design Center, a university-wide center committed to bringing an interdisciplinary and environmental justice approach to contemporary environmental challenges.

Michelle has also actively served in dozens of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations throughout her career and currently sits on the governing or advisory boards of Grist.org, the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the Perception Institute and the Hudson River Foundation.

Michelle joined Meyer in 2018. She is a member of Meyer's executive team.

You can read Michelle's full bio here.