Michelle Rafferty

Chief Operating Officer


Michelle Rafferty is responsible for developing and operations 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 to reduce unemployment and poverty while promoting racial, socio-economic equity. 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 crucial 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).

Q & A

What has the pandemic taught you about yourself?

I could be happy living with my family on a deserted island, assuming Netflix and pizza delivery were both available.

What activity do you most look forward to post-pandemic?

This is going to completely contradict the previous response: going back to Chuck E Cheese with my kids. They like to watch me play games there. Also, the pizza.

What would you tell your teenage self?

You are strong enough to get through all the big life events that worry you!

2021 Workforce Innovators