Michealene Cristini Risley has long been an entrepreneur who has created some of the largest deals in the consumer products and entertainment industry. She has worked with a number of fortune 100 companies such as Nike and the Walt Disney Company. With Adidas, Michealene launched Power of Two, the first-ever branded maternity line. As Vice President of Licensing and Character Development for Sega of America, she championed the Sega Girls Task Force and produced well over 100 episodes in animation.
Michealene founded and ran the non-profit organization Freshwater Haven from 2002 - 2014 to address the dramatic social change that is required to stop physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women and children.
She also wrote, produced, and directed a short film called Flashcards, which won Best Cinematography at the California Independent Film Festival, Best Short film at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, and the film screened in the Cannes Film Festival “Shorts Du Jour” program. Flashcards was distributed by American Public Television on PBS stations. The film reveals some of the most complicated issues of child sexual abuse and the broader cultural patterns that help perpetuate it.
As an award winning filmmaker, Michealene Cristini Risley co-wrote and directed Tapestries of Hope, a feature-length documentary that exposes the myth behind the belief that raping a virgin cures a man of HIV/AIDS. Her trip to Zimbabwe resulted in her being imprisoned and deported in an attempt by the Mugabe-led government police to quash her telling the story of Betty Makoni, a Zimbabwean child and human rights activist (a CNN top 10 hero for 2009) whose Girl Child Network rescues abused girls and provides them counseling, healing and educational support.
In March of 2007, Michealene released her first co-authored book, This Is Not The Life I Ordered, where she shares her story of child sexual abuse. A collaboration with 3 other women and their stories, the book has sold well over 25,000 copies. As a writer, Michealene has blogged for the Huffington Post and regularly writes on issues that provoke discussion and social change. And her latest book, French Fry Kid is coming soon.
In 2012 Michealene ran for President of the United States in 2012 under a new technology platform called Americans Elect, structured to give the vote back to the American people. Her goal was to reach the national stage and push current Presidential nominees to tell the truth. She finished in the top three candidates, despite being the only candidate without a national presence.
As a public speaker, the subjects she speaks on include: Women in Entertainment, Women’s Voices for Social Change, Sexual Abuse. Her keynotes and speaking events include the first annual Maya Angelo Summit, Ted Talks, Google, United Nations the US State Department and Congress. She has also spoken on local and national radio, national television, and numerous locations in California, including the Commonwealth Club in both San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.
Currently, Michealene continues to focus on merging her corporate life with her work on human rights issues as well as innovative ways to leverage technology and media to create awareness and social change.