Michelle Ferguson has grantwriting expertise built upon more than 20 years of writing and editing experience, primarily in journalism and with Colorado’s nonprofit sector. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring her diverse skills to JVA, particularly when it comes to merging mission with asset growth and helping to create economies of scale. She excels at cultivating partnerships with private and public sources—whether corporate, foundation or first-time funders—when helping to spearhead positive, impactful change through the power of community. Michelle is most passionate when working collaboratively with community changemakers toward implementing inclusive, nontraditional pathways that are better equipped to produce equitable outcomes and more effectively reach needs that were previously unmet.
What particularly excites Michelle about working at JVA is the opportunity to swap out archaic, culturally irrelevant strategies for more developed approaches that advance capacity building and community engagement. Michelle began writing grants for PetAid Colorado in 2013 and worked in tandem with the Dumb Friends League to establish a health care safety net for pets. This was first achieved through the PetSmart Charities Compassion Fund by reducing pet homelessness and making wellness services increasingly available for pets at risk of entering the shelter system. Her commitment to preventing the needless suffering and relinquishment of animals, regardless of their owner’s financial status, was shared by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which helped provide medical subsidies for livestock in Colorado’s rural counties. In conjunction with the Animal Assistance Foundation, Michelle also facilitated the pilot program Parvo Prevention and Intervention to decrease parvo mortality rates in the Denver metro area. By the time Michelle decided it was time to move forward in her grantwriting endeavors, PetAid Animal Hospital had experienced a 47% increase in patient intake, with 11,335 animals served annually, and was a critical source of service within the community.
In 2018, Michelle began working at Easterseals to partner with individuals, families and the community to reduce the impact of disability and health challenges so that those living with a disability—whether cognitive or physical—were able to overcome obstacles to independence and increase quality of life through wellness, employment, respite and recreation service programs. Michelle was responsible for the coordination, writing and final submission of grant proposals, successfully garnering funds on behalf of Easterseals’ Neurological & Stroke Rehabilitation Center, Pre-Employment Transition, Disability Benefit Services, Rocky Mountain Village and YAY! summer camps, Community Transit, as well as Access Gallery (a social enterprise and Easterseals affiliate). Through this work, Michelle gained familiarity in government grantmaking and received major support from the City of Denver and Fort Collins, Mile High United Way, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, Colorado Creative Industries, Arts in Society, National Endowment for the Arts, Rocky Mountain Human Services, and Douglas County Developmental Disabilities Mill Levy.
Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism with a minor in Chinese language, specifically Mandarin, from New York University.
Michelle spent over six years volunteering as a literacy tutor at New York Cares, a nonprofit educational charity, teaching reading to adult students with first- to fifth-grade academic skills. She now enjoys volunteering with Denver area organizations related to disability issues (e.g., Shine Music Festival).
Michelle was born in Hong Kong and moved to the United States in 1997, when the handover occurred and Hong Kong returned to Chinese control after a century and a half of British colonial rule. She is also president of the Pinky Ferguson Detective Agency, through which she solves mysteries via a reasonable and sensible bargain.