Michele L. Watley is a communications and political strategist with substantive experience representing issues and candidates from a vast range of political ideologies across the US and at all levels of government. She is the founder and owner of The Griot Group LLC, a strategic communications and political advocacy consulting practice.
Michele has been honored by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) with the 40 under 40 award, and was named one of Campaign & Election’s Rising Stars for 2017. She is the first Black and the first female operative to be honored with both national awards in the same year.
Michele formerly served as the director of advocacy with the ACLU of Kansas, where she spearheaded the establishment of an advocacy department, while leading direct advocacy campaigns and coalition building efforts. As the statewide political director for Chris Koster’s gubernatorial campaign, she worked to identify, connect with and mobilize various constituency groups as a senior member of the campaign team, helping to set the campaigns strategic direction and building a broad coalition of support. She also served as the national African American outreach political director for Senator Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign, leading the political outreach efforts by securing key endorsements, executing field initiatives, and driving media strategy to increase awareness of the campaigns outreach efforts to increase the vote in a number of states.
Michele started her professional journey as a carpenter apprentice with the Carpenter’s District Council Kansas City and Vicinity. She made the transition from a highly successful career in skilled labor to strategic communications, working for the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Hague Conference on Private International Law located in the Hague Netherlands, and eventually serving as senior staff for Missouri Secretary of State, Jason Kander.
Michele holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Masters of Science in Organizational development with an emphasis in Leadership, Training Facilitation and Change Management.