Michelle Rafferty

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer of DESC, Michelle Rafferty is responsible for the development and operations of strategic workforce initiatives that equip Detroiters with skills and opportunities that lead to family-sustaining employment. She led the redesign of Detroit’s workforce development service delivery system and currently oversees the Detroit at Work Career Center system, training, data analytics and performance management.

Michelle has spent her career creating and launching efforts that strive to reduce unemployment and poverty while promoting racial, socio-economic equity. She is skilled in strategic planning, leadership, resource development and project management and has a strong interest in building and sustaining collaborative relationships within and across organizations.

At the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, Michelle oversaw strategic initiatives, resource development and labor market research. During her time with SER Metro Detroit and Central States SER, she developed new business opportunities and oversaw a team that delivered employment services to the community. At the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Michelle played a key role in the design and launch of the Greater Detroit Centers for Working Families and conducted research that guided investments.

Michelle earned a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. When she is not at work, she spends her time with her two sons playing video games (development of fine motor & anger management skills) and binge-watching TV shows (research of human condition and psychology).

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