Michelle Coombs, PhD

Leadership, Strategy, Implementation

Michelle, an energetic, innovative, and results-oriented leader, is a catalyst for organizational development and change enabling organizations to most effectively address pressing and complex challenges and provide excellent client service. She specializes in change leadership, strategic planning and implementation, research, and learning and development. Michelle is a recognized thought leader who provides exceptional support for boards of directors and organization leaders.

Selected Achievements

  • Enhanced the ability of an agency from thought leadership to impactful influence through strategic participation in the Ontario Health Team model to increase the ability of the system to address the needs of women with substance use concerns through expanded services.
  • Built strong client relationships at a community health agency through a DEI program that increased staff diversity from almost nil to 51%.
  • Led various research, quality and evaluation projects helping organizations reach strategic goals. Reports include Policies Matter: Addressing Violence Against Women Through Reflection, Knowledge and Action, Social Housing Competencies: Expertise for a New Era & Digital Health Solutions to Support Women with Addiction During COVID-19: Applying a Gender- and Trauma-informed Lens.
  • Negotiated a three-year learning and development plan with the City of Toronto to provide mandatory Rent-Geared-to-Income training for city-supported social housing providers.
  • Led the turnaround of a women’s support agency that serves over 1700 women and their families each year to a 70% increase in operating budget and a sustainable organizational infrastructure.

Prior Experience

  • The Osborne Group
    • Access Alliance
    • Bellwoods Centres for Community Living
    • Madison Community Services
    • CMHA Ontario
    • Turning Point Youth Centre
    • Watershed HR Solutions
    • Extendafamily
    • St Jude Community Homes
    • Compass Group
    • LOFT
    • North York Women’s Centre
    • MCS
  • OISE at University of Toronto-Instructor
  • The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Toronto Metropolitan University – Instructor
  • Jean Tweed Centre – Executive Director
  • Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association – Manager, Education and Member Services
  • MRC Consulting (various clients)
  • Elizabeth Fry Toronto – Executive Director
  • Mainstay Housing – Director, Tenant and Member Services


  • Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team – Executive Member
  • Imagine Canada – Peer Reviewer
  • West Toronto Community Legal Services – Board Member/Chair
  • WomanACT – Board Member
    • Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, PhD, Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, Workplace Learning and Social Change
  • OISE Continuing and Professional Learning (CPL) – Adult Learning and Development Certificate
  • Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Centre – Certificate in Inclusive Leadership
  • Harvard Business School – Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management
  • Wellesley Institute – Executive Leadership Training Program
  • Maytree-Wellesley Institute – Public Policy Training Institute
  • Ryerson University – Certificate in Interdisciplinary Studies in Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Management