“I grew up in a home where my mother was a housewife with a passion for children,” Michelle Gyles-McDonnough ’90 told the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner. “I would come home and see some different child living with me for the next three months because … she decided to help.”
Gyles-McDonnough inherited her mother’s passion and has devoted her life to access to opportunity. Newly appointed as deputy assistant administrator and deputy regional director of the UN Development Program in Asia Pacific, she’s working with an organization that aims to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development throughout the region. Now the highest-ranking Jamaican in the UN system, she’s been with the UNDP—the UN’s global development network—since 1999, most recently serving as UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative for Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.
Gyles-McDonnough’s career has had an international accent since graduation day. In 1990, she served as a law clerk for Harare Legal Projects Centre in Zimbabwe and later worked for the Organization of American States and at the Embassy of Jamaica and Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the OAS.