In March 2023, Michelle began working with CoLead as a Participant Support Specialist. She has over 20 years of management and housing experience. Laird Lewis began her career in housing as a resident manager at the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority. In the Residential Department, she gained her experience in Section 8, Project-based Learning, HUD Real Estate Assessment Center Inspections, Tax Credits, auditing, leasing, community building, care conferences, HUD contracts, and attended annual Affordable Housing Management Association conferences.
Michelle went to Seattle Central Community College and won the Nelson Mandela Achievement award. The following year, Seattle Central Community College Foundation asked Michelle to give back by speaking at the Harvest Dinner & Auction, a benefit for the Culinary Department & their students. Michelle’s speech helped raise over $100K for the culinary department. Laird Lewis transferred to The Evergreen State College – Tacoma Campus (“Evergreen”) and graduated at the top of her class with a BA in Public Policy and a minor in Community Outreach.
During her senior year at Evergreen, she began working at Plymouth Housing Group. As the resident manager she opened the Plymouth on Stewart Apartments. After successfully leasing the apartments, she was promoted to property manager. A few years later, Michelle opened a new construction property called the Humphrey House.
In 2012, Michelle was afforded an opportunity of a lifetime where she took a sabbatical and moved to the Caribbean. Laird Lewis spent seven years in the US and British Virgin Islands. She worked and traveled throughout the West Indies as a steward on a small catamaran, operations manager on two tall sail ships, a bartender on the beach, and managed local restaurants and nightclubs while mastering the art of frozen rum libations for cruise passengers, and collected mooring fees while driving a dingy. Ask her about rope swinging from an Island Windjammer in open water and jumping in at Carnival!
In September 2018, Hurricane Irma and later in October Hurricane Maria hit her island. After surviving both hurricanes on the island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, she returned home to Seattle, WA. Michelle then began working as a Community Manager for Regus at the Smith Tower and World Trade Center.
In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle moved cross country to Fort Worth TX to be near her father and extended family. She got her CDL Class B License and drove the city bus for Fort Worth Trinity Metro. In December 2022, Michelle returned home to Seattle WA to be near her mother, brothers, and her dear friends.
Michelle is passionate about housing justice, equality for all, inclusivity in the workplace, and educating others about their rights. She thrives on getting into “good trouble”!
When Michelle is not working, she is researching her next island vacation, watching boxing or MMA, cooking with her family, and listening to Soca music in the backyard with a cold one.