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Michelle Kydd Lee

Foundation Leader

Los Angeles, CA

I decided I didn’t have to know how it was all going to work out; I trusted my work ethic and knew I would do my best.

I was ten years into my career as the Foundation Director at Creative Artists Agency when I was asked to help manage the growth taking place at our company. We had recently added three satellite offices and several new divisions of service. We had also doubled in size during those years, creating an obvious need for more infrastructures in administration. The new responsibilities would include overseeing human resources, the training program and the culture.

This was a terrific challenge: I would have the chance to stretch and grow, all the while leading a terrific group of people who shared the philosophy that great service equals a great career.

The timing was tough. I had just given birth to my second child six months prior; my older son was only a year and a half old. I was still a relatively new mother trying to navigate a world of two kids still in diapers and cribs. I didn’t have a sleep routine, but I did have fantastic child care and a husband who believed this was an enormous opportunity for me and our family.

So I leaned in. I decided I didn’t have to know how it was all going to work out; I trusted my work ethic and knew I would do my best.

My confidence in my abilities as a mother and executive was routinely shaken during that year. I felt the need to continually prove to my bosses that they had made the right decision by choosing me. I also wanted to show other women at my organization that work and family could coexist and hopefully thrive (even if I wasn’t sure how to do it just yet).

Meanwhile, I still had my original job in our Foundation. That part of my work was basking in the glow of the positive impact we were having in helping to create a real philanthropic engagement in popular culture.  Serving our clients in their pro-social dreams and goals continues to be immensely rewarding. While the work of an administrator and manager was drier than I was used to, I knew the new assignment was important to the long-standing health of our organization.

That was seven years ago and the company has continued to grow at a rapid pace.The opportunities we have been able to create for employees and clients continue to grow significantly each year. Now, when my sons ask me how my day was at work, I inquire about school and together we compare notes and share our successes.