Ever since she was a child, Michelle Green-Ford ('83) knew that she wanted to pursue a career in business.
Green-Ford was always around business owners in her community and had a sense that she wanted to go into the field.
That spark of interest led her to pursue her education at UNT and graduate with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Along with that, she also earned her M.B.A. in 2017 from Amberton University in Frisco.
After more than 30 years of working in the business industry from running her own leadership development and training program to leading equity and diversity at JPS Health Network, Green-Ford is now taking on a new role. She was recently named the first woman to be elected as the president and CEO of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce.
"This position means everything," says Green-Ford. "As the first woman to uphold this title, I'm honored to serve in this expanding capacity and assist individuals within my community by helping their small businesses flourish."
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Green-Ford was interested in attending school close to home but she also wanted to experience typical college life. Along with having several friends from high school attending, Green-Ford had no doubts about pursuing her degree at UNT.
As a student, she was involved as a member of the Epsilon Mu chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. And she worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a receptionist.
"My favorite memories from UNT are living in the dorm, developing relationships and learning to study with others while supporting each other," Green-Ford says. "I learned the importance of partnership and never felt alone."
As a business major, she took communications courses that required a large amount of presentations, which required that she stand up and speak in front of others. The foundation from the program and the opportunities and skills she acquired gave her the foundation she needed to be successful.
After graduation, she went on to serve in many different positions in the business world.
She worked within customer relations at IBM; was an international management trainer for American Airlines, where she spoke nationally and internationally; was a learning consultant for Texas Health Resources; and most recently worked as the vice president and chief diversity officer at JPS Health Network.
Green-Ford also started her own leadership training and development program, where she spoke about management training in arenas nationwide.
"The leadership skills I've learned helped me obtain what I needed to be competitive," she says. "It allowed me to educate myself and have empathy and understanding for others in a professional sense. And that is something I want to pass on to the next generation of business leaders."
The many years of hard work and dedication have led Green-Ford to take on a prestigious title in her hometown. She is the first person to be elected after DeBoyd Jennings, who served as the president and CEO of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce for 30 years before his passing in July 2021.
As the newly elected president and CEO, Green-Ford's focus is to help build stronger economic development as well as educate small business owners.
"The population of Fort Worth is growing and we hope to expand our reach and present opportunities for businesses to grow," Green-Ford says. "When the economy is flourishing, individuals have what they need to afford health care, maintain housing, transportation and other basic needs."
In the coming years, she hopes to produce revenue goals and partner with others to see the community thrive.
She wants to leave a legacy in her community and inspire others as her children did for her, including her son Joshua Ford ('21), who graduated from UNT with a double degree in psychology and sociology.
Green-Ford hopes to impact others in her new role through service. She wants to see others like herself go for their goals and do what they're passionate about.
"It's normal to not have anything figured out in college, follow your passion and heart," Green-Ford says. "Follow what you want to do and go in that direction."