Speaker, Author and Social Impact Advisor, Formerly, President of Caterpillar Foundation and Director, Corporate Social Innovation, Caterpillar, Inc.

Michele L. Sullivan is a globally recognized leader and advisor in social impact, TED speaker, and author.

During her 30 year career at Caterpillar, she served as President of Caterpillar Foundation and Director, Corporate Social Innovation, Caterpillar Inc. Throughout her time with the Foundation, Michele has transformed it from merely transactional to global and strategic. This strategy places the human need first, not as an afterthought of profit. Michele is well known for her global expertise and sustainable and collaborative approach to philanthropic investing.

Michele strongly believes monumental and sustainable change in our largest global challenges can only happen through partnerships and collaboration between public, private and non-profit entities. This strategy resulted in the Caterpillar Foundation’s transformation into one of the most influential corporate foundations, and ultimately, the launch of the Foundation’s collaborative impact platform known as Together.Stronger.™

Michele was honored to give a TED Talk at TEDWomen 2016, becoming the first Caterpillar employee to do so. In her talk, she speaks candidly about the challenges she has overcome in life, highlighting the importance of acceptance and helping others succeed in the face of their unique challenges.

Michele was named by Inside Philanthropy as one of the 50 most powerful women in philanthropy and also served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She is also a member of the ONE board of directors and currently chairs the Greater Peoria Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Advisory Board. Michele earned her MBA from Bradley University.

Further Reading and Videos on Michele


My Story


Looking up to others is the only perspective to have.  Being born with a rare form of dwarfism, metatrophic dysplasia, looking up, figuratively and literally, has given me a life full of experiences and opportunities. Learning to expand my view of others has been the most potent lesson in my life.

My life experiences and career at Caterpillar and the Caterpillar Foundation has given me opportunities to truly see people for who they are, and not by what I could see. Everyone has value.  I believe when we make an effort to truly see people, impact happens.

Throughout my global speaking experiences, I have shared my story of being born with dwarfism and became the president of a large corporate foundation.  Along the way, I’ve shared how perspective not only guides your life, but that of others.

We all provide value and impact.  I desire to share life lessons to maximize your value and impact and how to see others in their true light.