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Michelle Armstrong

Head of Philanthropy at Ares Management LLC and Executive Director of the Ares Charitable Foundation


Michelle Armstrong is Head of Philanthropy at Ares Management LLC (“Ares” or the “firm”) and Executive Director of the Ares Charitable Foundation (the “Ares Foundation”). Under her guidance, Ares strives to achieve distinctiveness through both intentionality in the charitable causes the firm supports and returns on those investments as evidenced by the measurable difference they make in people’s lives. Her leadership of the Ares Foundation helps accelerate equality of economic opportunity through funding priorities in career preparation and reskilling, entrepreneurship and personal finance. Launched in 2020, the Ares Foundation awards grants for both signature and employee-directed initiatives. The former include Climate-Resilient Employees for a Sustainable Tomorrow (“CREST”), a $25 million commitment to help prepare individuals for green jobs through the disruption of occupational segregation, and AltFinance, a $30 million commitment to help equip Historically Black College and University students for careers in alternative investment management. The latter support initiatives globally that, for example, better enable low-income women to transition out of poverty, examine barriers to young people’s successful workforce entry, promote disability workforce inclusion strategies and encourage intergenerational entrepreneurship.

In addition, Ms. Armstrong oversees Ares’ employee engagement programming to foster team members’ volunteerism where the firm does business worldwide as well as executes strategic corporate contributions. Much of her work centers around abiding efforts to drive alignment with Ares’ Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) teams to amplify the firm’s core values.

Prior to joining Ares, Ms. Armstrong led partner engagement and grantmaking at Project Management Institute (“PMI”) for the PMI Educational Foundation to advance key priorities in youth and education, nonprofit capacity building and workforce readiness globally. Her grantmaking yielded sustained results, including having funded Junior Achievement Africa and Junior Achievement Europe to integrate project management into youth programming in more than 30 member nations, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Special Olympics International to build their project management offices, and CARE to develop the project management capabilities of women producers and entrepreneurs in Ecuador as part of a gender-equitable, solidarity-based economics program.

Previously, she was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs, where she specialized in venture philanthropy and high-engagement giving to ensure the educational attainment of less advantaged youth and to broker school and community partnerships in under-resourced settings. In addition, Ms. Armstrong developed and executed strategies for aligned giving and involvement at MetLife for its foundation and corporate social responsibility initiatives. She also worked as a Researcher at both the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching and Center for Children and Technology, a division of Education Development Center, Inc.

Ms. Armstrong serves as a Trustee of the National Jazz Museum of Harlem, a Smithsonian Affiliate organization, and Wish of a Lifetime, a charitable affiliate of AARP that grants life-changing wishes to older adults to inspire society to redefine aging in the U.S. She also represents Ares as a Director of ALT Finance Corporation, the nonprofit that delivers AltFinance, and is a member of The Economic Club of New York and the Harvard Club of New York City. In addition, she is the partnerships and philanthropy subject-matter expert for the Ares DEI Council. Ms. Armstrong holds an A.B. from Harvard University in anthropology, and an M.A. and MPhil from Teachers College, Columbia University in sociology and education, with a concentration in educational policy.