Pivot Fellow Spotlight: Michelle Marshall

Posted in News

Michelle with Professor Miller and Professor Lovegrove at the 2021 Pivot Program Graduation Ceremony

For Michelle Marshall, the Pivot Program was a gateway into her dream of using entrepreneurship to support people affected by incarceration.

Michelle first learned about Pivot when she was involved with Project Empowerment, a local initiative of the D.C. Department of Employment Services that provides job training and support for unemployed people in the city.

“My teachers recommended that I apply for the Pivot Program,” Michelle said. “Since then, Pivot has far exceeded any expectations that I had.”

Going into the Pivot Program, Michelle saw the power of education and was determined to be open to learning and practicing new skills.

“No matter how old you are or where you are in your life, there’s always room for growth,” Michelle says. “It’s never too late to go back to school and it’s never too late to want to change your life.”

As a Pivot Fellow, Michelle was surprised by the overwhelming support from her peers, professors, and the wider Pivot network.

“Some of these people don’t know you personally and are not related to you, but they love you and genuinely believe in your future,” Michelle says. “It’s been life-changing, and it almost forced me to be a better person.”

After learning in the virtual Pivot classroom, Michelle interned with the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit research organization focused on mass incarceration in the United States. During her time with Vera, Michelle put to use the skills she practiced in her Pivot classes.

“I sat in with members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi’s team and Sheila Jackson Lee’s team,” Michelle says. “I helped with the process of testifying, passing bills, and anything concerning criminal justice reform.”

Michelle’s experience with Pivot helped her start businesses, including Clear Choice Transportation and Marshall & Sons, a landscaping and development business. The entrepreneurship curriculum of the Pivot Program gave her the necessary skills to solidify these business ideas into reality.

“I planned out these businesses before I even stepped out of the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” Michelle says. “So I’m proud of myself and I feel like I’m on the right path.”

Now that she’s a graduate of the Pivot Program, Michelle plans to build her businesses. She hopes her success is a testament to the capabilities and resilience of returning citizens.

“I want to be someone that people remember who may have started out in a bad way, but in the end, they made a change,” she says.