Michelle Odayan is an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa and an entrepreneur with vast multisectoral experience in leading and supporting institutional change and transformation efforts in Africa. She is a strategist, influencer and enabler offering her clients from under trees to boardrooms innovative perspectives, insights and approaches for advancing human rights and social justice as a key lever for good business, ethical governance and active citizenship. Over the past 24 years, she has led diverse teams with multimillion-rand project portfolios supported by international donor and government investments in Southern and East Africa in areas of social and economic development, sustainability and integrated reporting, high impact skills development and entrepreneurship, democracy and governance, and access to justice. Post 1994, she was instrumental in the planning and execution of public-private partnership projects, institutional mergers and rendered extensive technical assistance to various state entities in South Africa. Between 1999 and 2013 she spear headed the restructuring of the lower courts of the criminal and civil justice system and contributed to the vast court leadership, management and case flow reforms that are institutional features within the Office of the Chief Justice.
She is a founding Board member of Play Africa that is working toward establishing the first Children’s Museum in Africa, serves on the Board of People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) and is a ministerial appointee to the Board of the Fibre, Process & Manufacturing Sector Education & Training Authority. She is a vociferous champion for women’s rights. In 2012 – 2013 she was a ministerial appointee to the National Task Team on Sexual Offences Legislation that crafted a robust strategy for the Re-Establishment of Sexual Offences Courts and also served on the Presidents Working Group on Women from 2005 – 2007. She has held formal positions with ACCORD, Olive OD&T, Business Against Crime, Agenda Feminist Media and the National Centre for State Courts (USA). She is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative 5th Class, the Aspen Global Leadership Network and an alumnus of the Cambridge and Prince of Wales Sustainable Leadership Programme (UK).