Michelle has driven sustainability initiatives at several large consumer product companies. Led by her passion for the environment, she progressed from research chemist to product developer to sustainability specialist. In these roles, she developed sustainable materials and processes that reduced the environmental impact of several major consumer products. Her technical approach is informed by her early career at 3M, where she applied her chemistry and material science degrees to technology and product development roles. Michelle then leveraged those experiences at Patagonia and Hasbro to develop and implement sustainable materials and processes. Her insights were instrumental to reimagine Hasbro’s Playskool, Play-Doh & NERF products, and incorporate more sustainable materials across Patagonia’s portfolio. Michelle has co-authored six granted patents and is a certified facilitator of the FORTH Innovation Methodology.
Michelle’s career began in Nanotechnology, an area that pulled together a great deal of cutting edge Materials Science, Engineering and Chemistry from prior decades. She began her career at 3M’s Corporate Research Materials Laboratory, developing novel nanotechnology coatings. She developed and formulated pressure sensitive and structural adhesives with Biopolymers, while completing a Masters in Material Science and Engineering at Columbia University in parallel. Michelle’s next role was product development in 3M’s Consumer HealthCare Division. There she led the development of novel ACE™ and FUTURO™ products, incorporating core 3M technologies. At 3M she gained valuable experience in the business of launching new products.
Michelle found an opportunity for more direct environmental impact in Patagonia’s Material Innovation Team. At Patagonia she was a key member of the team that identified and vetted lower-impact materials for textile fibers, apparel trims, luggage, and surfboards. There was a strong innovation component to the technologies considered and the vetting process required a complete picture of engineering, production, integration and impact considerations. A number of times, she was asked to act as the Technical Analyst for Patagonia’s corporate venture Fund, Tin Shed Ventures. Here she gained valuable insights into how companies and technologies are assessed by investors.
With the Environmental Impact Team, she assessed the environmental trade-offs of numerous materials and processes. These included the biodegradation behavior of current and experimental yarns. Michelle joined Hasbro’s newly formed Packaging and Product Sustainability Team to translate her knowledge and insights in sustainable product development and re-engineering to a large publicly traded company with significant global impact. She used her multidisciplinary experience and broad based Materials Science background to infuse needed cross-functionally into the team establishing a new materials qualification process. Michelle created a strategic roadmap to transition eleven virgin resins to recycled or biobased alternatives. This initiative supports the company’s 2030 and 2050 SBTi commitments.
As an independent consultant, Michelle spends a portion of her time advising brands within OIA’s Clean Chemistry and Materials Coalition on chemical management and sustainability activities, particularly phasing out of PFAS. Michelle is passionate about leveraging her expertise to help others accelerate the adoption of materials with a lower environmental footprint.