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Michelle Cardinal

Chairwoman and Co-Founder, Advisory Board

Michelle’s career spans more than 20 years in advertising and media. During that time she has relentlessly bucked conventional wisdom by finding smarter ways to look at the math. Can highly efficient media be strategically inter-laced with specialized creative to push the boundaries of response? Can data insights and analytics-informed buying lead to higher and higher ROI for her clients? Michelle challenged her agency to find a way to achieve best-in-class results and a new form of advertising was born—Transactional Brand Building.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her professional life began in southern California with a job in TV sales. From there she segued into buying and planning, becoming Media Director for one of the largest media buying agencies in the country, Williams Worldwide. But Michelle is an entrepreneur at heart, so her next move was to start her own company: Cmedia. Following that, she co-founded an advertising agency by way of a merger with Respond2, a Portland-based creative boutique. Through several acquisitions and hard-earned organic growth, the advertising agency now numbers 220 employees and over $530 million in annual billings.

With Italian heritage and an intrinsic love of food, it was inevitable that she would somehow find her way into the food business. So, in 2009, Michelle co-founded Nero Del Gallo. With olive groves in Santa Ynez, California, the company produces and bottles more than 60 gallons of artisan olive oil per year. And, yes, Michelle is out there in the field at harvest time!

She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and business partner, Tim O’Leary, and their yellow/red fox Lab, Gifford Pinchot.