Animal lover and humanitarian don’t begin to describe Michele Stumpe, 52, who has put decades into passion projects that serve our local community as well as wildlife and impoverished communities in Africa. An accomplished attorney, she also does pro bono work for multiple charities and was recently named Best Self Atlanta‘s Give-Back Award Winner.
Q: What impact do you hope to leave on the world?
Michele Stumpe: The legacy of having created a change in the way nonpro ts do business, where they work together to resolve global humanitarian and environmental issues by empowering children, families and communities.
Q: What person, thing or event has influenced your life most?
MS: I’d applied to be a zoo volunteer when I was 12. Knowing they gave first claim to assignments based on final exam scores, I studied every night to snag the job atop everyone’s list: working with the baby animals. I got the second-highest score. When the ‘older’ woman with the top score was asked for her job preference, she gazed at me with a slight smile and calmly proclaimed, ‘I believe I’ll take the…train.’ I was so shocked and excited by her ridiculous choice that I barely noticed her wink at me before she sat down.
Q: What is your favorite way to give back to your community?
MS: I’m the co-founder/board chair of Children of Conservation. We provide scholarships for children of wildlife sanctuary workers in Africa and also engage in community empowerment projects that address conservation issues and the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. I’m also the board chair for PASA, an alliance of African wildlife sanctuaries and a board trustee for the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda. I’ve served as a founding board member of The Giving Kitchen and Staplehouse since their inception and I’ve been on the board or Legal Advisory Committee for Camp Twin Lakes for over 20 years. During the COVID crisis, I’ve spent all my legal time providing pro bono services to the hospitality industry.
Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
MS: In my final year of law school, I was selected to interview a key witness. I proudly took my suit to the dry cleaners, telling them exactly why I needed it. The next day, I confidently strode into the interview and nailed it! I was sure I’d made a great impression on my colleague and later commented on how much information I’d drawn out of the witness. That’s when she said, ‘Yeah, I think he was hypnotized by the light bouncing off the tin foil you forgot to remove from your suit buttons.’ The next day, the whole office had tin foil on their buttons. I got a strong dose of humility and a lasting reminder not to ever get too big for my britches (or my buttons).
Some of Michele’s favorite spots in Buckhead are Kimberly McDonald, Gypsy Kitchen and Mirko.