Location: Santa Ana, Calif.
Michele Haddad is a single mother with a full-time job at Ingram Micro (No. 62), the electronics company, but she still manages to find time to respond to crises around the world when they strike. Since her first trip to Gulfport, Miss., and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, she’s travelled to disaster-stricken sites in Haiti, Peru, Greece, Mexico, Costa Rica, and across the United States. Since 2011, she has also made annual trips to conflict zones, volunteering to help refugees of the Syrian Civil War living in unofficial camps in Lebanon and northern Iraq. “During a quiet time of natural disasters, that’s when I looked into the refugee crisis,” she explains. She also raises money for them in the U.S. and buys supplies like tea, toiletries and food, to deliver to the camps. “I know I can’t solve these people’s problems,” she says. “But I get a lot of satisfaction out of just helping people through that day and giving people hope that people do care.”
Haddad’s good works aren’t limited to far-flung populations. When not in a disaster zone—where she is 5-6 weeks a year—she helps asylum-seekers in Orange County, as a volunteer with Voice of the Refugees, a California non-profit that provides immigrants with services like resume coaching, rides to doctor appointments and government meetings, ESL classes, and food. As for her son, Haddad brings him along on as many of her deployments as she can. “I’d never see him otherwise,” she jokes.