Michelle Hutson-Crawford is a dedicated advocate for children and families based in Pflugerville, TX. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on nutrition and child and family studies, as well as a Master's degree in Child and Family Studies, both from the University of Southern Mississippi. Michelle is the owner of M.H. Crawford Early Education Consulting Services and works full-time for a nonprofit. She enjoys reading, traveling and shares her life with partner Rasheeda and their beloved dog-child, Marley Jean. Her greatest joy is being a “Tee Tee” to her nephews Steven, Noah, and Braylon.
Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle to find out how she leads well in her career and life.
Michelle, please kick things off by introducing yourself and your story. Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you do?
I'm originally from Biloxi, MS, and now happily settled in Pflugerville, TX. Four years ago, I took a leap of faith and relocated to Texas in pursuit of a rewarding career change. I am currently honored to be a part of the United Way for Greater Austin, where I serve as the Director of K-12 Education. Working in this role allows me to make a positive impact on the lives of young learners, ensuring they receive the support and resources they need to thrive academically and beyond. I'm not only passionate about education and community empowerment but also deeply committed to promoting literacy. Whether it's advocating for reading programs, supporting access to books and resources, or championing literacy initiatives, I believe that fostering a love for reading and learning is crucial for personal and societal growth. I’m also a content creator for my Facebook group, The Pound Cake Chics.
I've noticed the older I get, the more important it is to start my day off right. What's your morning routine? How do you get your day started?
Each morning, I start my day with a serene ritual. I find a tranquil space to meditate and express gratitude for the gift of waking up. Showering my partner and dog with affection fills my heart with joy. Savoring a cup of tea or coffee invigorates my senses, and a gentle stretch leaves me feeling rejuvenated and ready to embrace whatever the day brings. This harmonious routine sets the tone for a fulfilling and positive day ahead.
How has a failure, or perceived failure, set you up for later success?
Sometimes, failure can be the perfect catalyst for future success. In 2010, I experienced a setback when I was laid off from my job at a privately owned fitness center that offered full-time childcare, after-school care, and drop-in services; despite successfully establishing and running their program, this challenging moment was a blessing in disguise. It pushed me to seek new opportunities, leading me to apply and eventually get hired at Head Start.
Working within early childhood education opened up a world of possibilities for growth and development. I embraced the chance to learn and grow in this field, which ultimately paved the way for my current achievements. Today, I am the proud owner of my own consulting business, where I can use my expertise to impact early childhood education positively.
Additionally, I found my passion in working for a nonprofit organization that aligns with my values and goals. This role allows me to contribute to a cause I love, making every day fulfilling and meaningful. It taught me resilience, adaptability, and the value of seeking out opportunities even in challenging times. Looking back, I am grateful for that setback as it set me on the path to the fulfilling and successful career I have today.
You are a leader. Whether in your home or in your career, you mobilize, organize, create and nurture bonds, and facilitate harmony. As a leader (in your home and in your career), how do you take care of your well-being?
I admit that I don't always get self-care right. Sometimes, I neglect my needs and fall into old habits that don't serve my well-being. During these moments, self-talk and encouragement become crucial to course-correct and prioritize self-care again. It's an ongoing journey of learning and growth, requiring patience and understanding with myself.
I find joy in reading, gaining new perspectives, and escaping through books. Shopping is a form of self-expression and an occasional treat. Playing board games with family creates cherished moments, and happy hours with colleagues foster a positive work environment. Cocooning on weekends recharges me and allows me to unwind.
Do you consider yourself to be a creative leader? If so, why? If not, what kind of leader do you identify with most? Or are you a combination of a few types? (traditional, creative, servant-leader, strategic, etc)
As a servant leader, my top priority is to empower my team through creativity and strategic guidance. I truly believe in investing in the growth of each member and fostering a collaborative environment. We encourage innovation to promote a culture of continuous improvement. Of course, I'm not perfect, and I know the value of humility in leadership, learning from our mistakes, and listening to others' insights. Getting to know my team members on a personal level helps me support them effectively. My leadership style focuses on creating a close-knit and motivated team that can achieve remarkable results together.
It's important to invest in your personal development and growth. Healing and growth are essential to being an effective leader. Do you agree? Why or why not?
I've been thinking a lot about how healing and growth are fundamental for leaders. It's like this: when leaders take the time to heal their own wounds and unresolved issues, they become more empathetic and understanding toward others. It's this newfound sense of self-awareness that allows us to lead with authenticity and compassion. And you know what's even more incredible? As we grow personally, we create an environment where our team members feel supported to grow as well. It's like a ripple effect! When we prioritize healing and personal development, it becomes a powerful force that transforms not just leaders but entire organizations. Growth, both individual and collective, becomes the driving force that propels everyone toward success and fulfillment.
How do you stay balanced? Are you able to maintain a work-life balance or is that a challenge for you?
Kelley Bonner's 'Black Girl Burnout' podcast has been a game-changer for me as a Black woman in the corporate world. It covers various topics, including the pressures of excelling at work. Hearing other Black women's experiences has empowered me to set boundaries and prioritize my family and mental health. It's hard to stay balanced, but this podcast has taught me to be more assertive and advocate for myself. It's a must-listen if you're facing burnout too!"
What are your favorite resources for self-development (books, podcasts, people, apps, etc)?
Among the women who grace my life – my mother, aunts, sister, and life partner – I find brilliance that shapes and enriches my world in unique ways. My mother's love and nurturing nature have instilled in me the values of compassion and strength. Their diverse experiences provide invaluable advice, broadening my perspective on life's challenges. My sister's friendship and support bring joy and comfort, reminding me of the importance of family bonds. I am blessed to have safe spaces within this family structure, where I can develop and grow freely. And in my life partner, I am fortunate to have an intelligent, creative, and loving individual who brightens each day. The presence of these remarkable women inspires and adds endless depth and meaning to my life. Other resources that have shaped me:
The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love by Sonia Renee Taylor (book)
Black Girl Burnout by Kelley Bonner (Podcast)
Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey
Les Brown, Motivational Speaker
I'm a quote junkie! What is your favorite quote?
“Control the controllables.”
Shout out to my Aunt Daphney for laying that one on me. It kept me together while I planned my wedding. LOL! Another one that I’d consider to be my favorite is, “It is what it is.”
What can people expect from you next?
So, I'm on this journey of personal growth and learning. I've learned that it's okay to be happy with where I am right now. I'm also excited about the idea of creating a special series of journals as I move forward in my career. I know I don't have all the answers yet, but that's alright—I'll be patient with myself and keep exploring. Life's a process, and I'm embracing it as I go, taking it one step at a time.
Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mnhcrawford/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mnhutson.