Michele Crochetiere: 36
Supportive Housing Program Site Director, Springfield YWCA
Michele Crochetiere said that a famous quote from Madeleine Albright has stuck with her over the last several years: “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Her jobs over the past decade have been in property management, but there was always something within that drove her to a higher purpose. Moving back to Western Mass. after a successful stint with a nationwide real-estate-management company, she said that she immediately joined the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and sat on the board for Dress for Success. From there, she said, her involvement in the area “just blossomed.”
At the YWCA, she runs the residential-apartment communities for survivors of domestic violence, and much of her volunteer work is focused on areas of social justice — from her board position at Zonta, helping disenfranchised women, to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s strategic-planning commission for the Knowledge Corridor Project on Fair Housing, to the Rental Housing Assoc. of Greater Springfield, the AIDS Foundation of Western Mass., and many, many others.
“But ‘social justice’ is such a buzzword,” she said. “Everyone has rights, and everyone has needs. What it takes is figuring out what those are. Everyone needs help at some point; sometimes it’s the need for a place to stay, and sometimes it’s a network connection for a job.”
Her colleagues across the board praise Crochetiere as someone motivated to volunteer not for her own professional advancement, but as a genuinely driven participant in making the area a better place for all. “For me, it’s pretty simple,” she acknowledged. “I do this because I like it. I could come up with some abstract notion about the importance of donating one’s time — but it’s a selfish thing. I meet awesome people, and I always take away great experiences from those people I meet.”
In recognition for her efforts, Crochetiere has been named among the Women Business Owners Alliance 2011 Top 10 Business Women in the Pioneer Valley, and earned the 2012 Western Mass. Women magazine’s Volunteer of the Year Award. And now, she’s one of this year’s 40 Under Forty.
— Dan Chase