Photo of Michelle Shirley

Michelle Shirley

Be Strong International


Michelle Shirley is the CEO of Be Strong International, a groundbreaking nonprofit focusing on teaching youth and adults the importance of Heart SkillsTM through healthy relationship education. Michelle began her career at Be Strong International in 2005, and advanced professionally from office and program manager to CEO. Since taking on the role in 2012, Michelle has increased the organization’s annual operating budget from $250k to more than $3 million and increased its programmatic impact to serve more than 8,000 youth and families each year in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Under her leadership, the organization offers an array of resources that teach Heart SkillsTM , essential skills that help transition individuals from brokenness to wholeness.


Affectionately known as the Chief Heart Officer, she is a frontline leader in the community. Her vision for the organization has brought about a unique approach to social programs that touch people in every stage of their lives, especially the youth. In 2022, she received the Nonprofit Leader of the Year Award by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. Under Michelle’s leadership, Be Strong International has been honored with numerous awards, including 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 earned Be Strong International the recognition as one of The Top 10 Best Places to Work by the South Florida Business Journal.


Michelle 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. Michelle was born and raised in Miami, FL. She is the daughter of Jamaican parents who migrated to the United States in the late 1970s. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami and a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration from Barry University. She is also a proud graduate of the 2022 Harvard University Nonprofit Strategic Perspectives Executive Program. When not involved in community advocacy, she enjoys spending time with her husband Jason and their children, Jehu, Zion and Hope.