Day in the Life: Michelle Mahoney

CSR is just the tip of the iceberg for the agency’s vice president, director of community engagement.

On this edition of Day in the Life, we take a look at the day of Michelle Mahoney, vice president, director of community engagement. Michelle leads corporate social responsibility initiatives for Leo Burnett and is the creator of Leo Love, the agency’s community outreach program that provides employees with ongoing volunteer projects.

 With more than 25 years at Leo Burnett, Michelle is a well-known and beloved face for employees who cherish her kindness and flock to her ability to make big ideas come to life. Her passion and sense of purpose is evident in both her tireless work ethic and committed relationships inside and outside the agency.  

Though she’s known for her corporate philanthropy, Michelle’s role extends beyond that. She helps lead an employee resource group, oversees key agency cultural events throughout the year and heads the Leo Shop, the network’s source for quality branded material. As a resource for Leo’s internal and external communities, her work is crucial in building Leo Burnett’s reputation and culture.

So, what does her look like? In a word, busy. Follow along all today on Instagram to see Michelle’s never-so-average day for yourself and read more about how she does it in her Q&A below. 

Describe your role in one sentence
I support the agency and our network with purposeful non-profit initiatives and employee engagement programs that tie into our corporate social responsibility strategy. 

What is your favorite part of what you do?  
Being able to make a difference with initiatives such as Leo Love, our employee volunteer program. Also, managing our internal cultural events like Kid’s Day and the Leo Burnett Anniversary, which gives me the opportunity to work with our client teams, the clients themselves and our community partners. 

How does CSR play a role in other agency activities and efforts, such as new business or recruiting
CSR drives growth. Our employees want to work at a place that has purpose and commitment to social good and our clients want to partner with agencies that are socially responsible, which includes being active in community and industry initiatives. 

How did you start you get your start in CSR and philanthropy? 
Years ago, I was at a point in my career where I wanted to do something purposeful. I had two great mentors at Leo who connected me to a network of leaders within the CSR world. It didn’t take long for me to realize that is exactly where I wanted to be. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?  
Being able to work with so many amazing people! Whether it’s engaging employees in the Chicago office for a Give Back Day or working with our parent company in Paris to create a global charitable effort, they make my job special and remind me why, at the end of a long day, it’s all worth it. 

Tell us more about your passion for helping the homeless and the activities you do with your family.  
Every homeless person has a heartbreaking story and we simply want to guide them into a safer and healthier situation. My teenage daughter makes fleece blankets and pocket survival kits. My teenage son works with a local non-profit to create awareness and raise money. He also helps my husband, who provides meals and, as for me, I do whatever I can, however I can. 

You do so much for others. What rituals or activities do you do for yourself? 
I have a hard time taking time out just for myself. I think it stems from interacting on a daily basis with those who are struggling so much. I’ve tried meditating, yoga or reading a good book, but I usually just end up snoring instead. On occasion, I’ll treat myself to a mani-pedi or a massage; but, for the most part, “me-time” means obsessively screenshotting all kinds of inspirational Instagram messages or taking a walk along the lake.  

What sets Leo Burnett apart, or rather, what has kept you here for so many years? 
Simply, being able to be myself. I’m continually surrounded by a supporting and inclusive environment that allows me to be creative in my own way and pursue my unique passions. 

You never stop going. What is your source of energy and motivation for your work
I think for most people, when you find your “niche” or your calling, it just becomes who you are. My calling is to inspire those around me. My heart drives most of what I do – and it’s my head that keeps me from being overwhelmed on a daily basis!