Class XVI (2018-2019)

5. Michelle Helman

Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Portland, District 5100

Host Club: Ashgrove/The Gap, District 9600

Michelle calls Portland, Oregon home. Her journey to become a Rotary Peace Fellow formalized after earning a BA in Anthropology from the University of Illinois in 2005. Practical application of her studies constituted joining the Peace Corps where she served as a Youth Development Volunteer in Peru. Thereafter, Michelle directed an academic enrichment program through the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization in Portland and led gap-year study abroad programs for university students. Through these challenging and rewarding experiences, she realized the importance of fostering communication skills to build community. In 2012, Michelle began studying communication and conflict resolution and learned to apply mindfulness and trauma-informed leadership techniques to create an advocacy program for Latinx immigrants. She then trained to volunteer as a small-claims court mediator and holds additional certifications as an advanced yoga instructor, scuba diver, and Wilderness First Responder, and is an award-winning career coach. Michelle recently worked in Nicaragua installing compost toilets with farmers in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve and as a Spanish medical interpreter and tutor in Portland. Currently, Michelle is researching how the neuroscience of emotions is an integral and often overlooked component of effective peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Her vision is to apply this concept by creating leadership training utilizing experiential education pedagogy to improve organizational development outcomes and impact