Michelle Sie Whitten
Board Member, Executive Director, Co-Founder, Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Michelle Sie Whitten is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through Research, Medical Care, Education and Advocacy. Its primary focus is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the United States committed to research and medical care for people with Down syndrome.
The Foundation is a leading national lobbying and advocacy organization for people with Down syndrome. Specifically, the Foundation is the lead voice in requiring a comparable, fair share of Federal Government support for research, improved medical care, and improved educational standards for people with Down syndrome.
The Foundation organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show – the single largest annual fundraiser for Down syndrome. Programs established by Michelle and organized and funded by the Foundation include the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class, Ed McCaffrey Dare to Play Football and Cheer Camps, Global Down Syndrome Educational Series, Denver Zoo Internship, and Dare to Play Soccer Camp.
Michelle has also served as the Executive Director of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation since 2005. Since that time, the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation has become one of the largest sources of grant money for Down syndrome-related research and programs. Michelle was a key architect in establishing the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and its Sie Center for Down Syndrome at the Children’s Hospital Colorado.
For her Down syndrome-related work, Michelle has received several awards including the 2011 inaugural National Football Foundation Community Outreach Award, two prestigious 2011 ICON awards for the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, the 2010 Rainbow of Hope Award from Keshet of the Rockies, the 2009 Developmental Pathways Frances Owens Family Involvement award, the 2007 Arc Thrift Community Leadership Award, and the 2007 National Down Syndrome Congress’ Exceptional Meritorious Service Award.
Prior to her career in the non-profit sector, Michelle was President and CEO of Encore International, Inc., then the China arm of Liberty Media Corporation. She worked in the cable industry from 1993 until 2005 and is considered a pioneer in the China media industry. For her work during that time, she received the 40 Under 40 Achievement Award, the Real Women: Outstanding Entrepreneur Award and the Women in Cable & Telecommunications Walk of Fame Award.
Michelle sits on the boards of ARC Thrift of Colorado, Challenge Day Denver, and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Regional Studies – East Asia and a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration, both from Harvard University. She studied Mandarin Chinese at Peking University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University.
Michelle is married to Tom Whitten, a China and contemporary art expert. They live in Denver and have two children, one of whom has Down syndrome.