Photo of Michelle Shirley

Michelle Shirley

Be Strong International


Michelle Shirley was born and raised in Miami, FL. She is the daughter of Jamaican parents who migrated to the United States in the late 1970s. Michelle grew up in a broken home after the divorce of her parents and as a teenager she saw firsthand the effects of unhealthy relationships and domestic violence. Her parents, not afforded the opportunity to immediately attend college and create their own careers, stressed to Michelle and her siblings the importance of earning a good education. Michelle honored her parents’ wishes and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami and a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration from Barry University. Michelle began her career at Be Strong International in 2005 and worked her way up from Be Strong International’s Office Manager to Program Manager, to Chief Operating Officer and in 2012, Michelle was voted by the Board of Directors to become the Chief Executive Officer. Since then, Michelle has grown BSI’s annual operating budget and has increased its programmatic impact and footprint exponentially to serve thousands of youth and families each year in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Her personal mission is to gift every individual with Heart Skills© education so that they may achieve wholeness and success in every area of their life.

Known in South Florida as a turn-around CEO, Michelle received the 2022 Nonprofit Leader of the Year Award by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, and she is also a proud graduate of the 2022 Harvard University Nonprofit Strategic Perspectives Executive Program. Under Michelle’s leadership, Be Strong International was honored with the Exemplary Dade Partner Award by Miami-Dade County Public Schools in 2022, Program of the Year Award by The Children’s Trust in 2020, and the Outstanding Nonprofit Award by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce in 2020. Michelle’s specialty in maintaining an optimal workplace culture has also led Be Strong International to be recognized as one of the top 10 best places to work by the South Florida Business Journal in 2020. Today, Michelle is a frontline leader in the community as it relates to the optimal wellbeing of youth and families, and she is happily married to her husband, Jason, and a proud mother of their children, Jehu, and Zion. She currently serves as a member of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, South Dade Chamber of Commerce, Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, ChamberSOUTH, and the Palmetto Bay Business Association.

The Miami Foundation