2015 Richmond Hill
“It is empowering to give back. Every opportunity we have to contribute is a reminder that we have the power to shape the kind of world we want to live in.”
Michelle Risi-Anagnostopoulos is a successful business woman, wife and mother of two children. With an educational background in Early Childhood Education, Psychology, a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, and a Real Estate Broker’s license, Michelle channels all her skills and talents into her full-time career as Executive Vice President at Royal LePage Your Community Realty.
Michelle’s earliest memory of wanting to give back was at the age of fifteen, when she wanted to be a part of her school’s initiative to help build a school in El Salvador. Even though she was too young to participate, her first reaction was “I’ll go!” showing her natural instinct to give back. This instinct fueled Michelle’s drive to contribute her time where she could, well into her adult life. “I was always used to giving back on a one-on-one basis. But it wasn’t until I attended a Luncheon supporting Breast Cancer Awareness, that I realized how much more powerful we are when we work together to give back.”
Michelle was first exposed to corporate giving through her mother, Vivian, Broker of Record at Royal LePage Your Community Realty. Michelle has supported many charities on a corporate level, whether through resources, time or money. For Michelle, the personal benefits of giving back include knowing that she is helping others, something that her mother modeled for her, and one that she is eager to share with future generations. “As a human, how are we contributing to the world we want to live in? What do we want the world to look like?” Michelle said. “For me, one of the greatest benefits is that I can model that for my kids. I get to shape my world.”
While Michelle continues to support various causes and organizations, there is one that has affected her in a personal way. PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) is a genetic disorder that causes cysts to form on the kidneys, eventually leading to kidney failure. From a young age, Michelle witnessed her grandmother suffer from this, and after years of dialysis, her grandmother was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant. Fast forward a few years, Michelle’s father, uncle and aunt have all been diagnosed with this disease. After having been introduced to the PKD Foundation of Canada, Michelle and the entire Risi family came together to support the organization and raise much needed awareness and funds for the cause. Today, Michelle serves as Team Captain, leading the three generations of Risi’s in the annual Toronto Walk for PKD. In 2013 and 2014, Michelle’s team earned the top fund raising spot, and as each year passes, their passion and contribution continues to grow.
For Michelle and her family, they are already experiencing how powerful giving back can be in creating a new outcome for their PKD family. A few years ago, her uncle received the “gift of life” when they found out his wife was a perfect match for him. Her aunt, who had spent five years on dialysis, recently underwent a successful kidney transplant, and anticipation is high as her father awaits his new kidney through the living pair donor program. Michelle continues to champion for the PKD Foundation of Canada, by sharing her story, empowering others and reminding people that they are not alone and that together they can make a difference. The setting for Michelle’s portrait was in the Dialysis unit at the Mackenzie Health satellite location in Vaughan. While it is still too soon to tell who will be next in her family, she is optimistic for a different future for herself, her siblings and their children; one where the dialysis chair remains empty, and a cure is found.