Michelle Naomi (Severance) Barson was born and raised in Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. Her parents are Greg and Janien Severance and she has one brother, Russell, who is six years younger. Her father is an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio and mother is an elementary school teacher for Columbus City Schools.
Michelle lived in Worthington until the age of 24. Her fiancé and later husband, David Barson, was offered a promotion if he moved to Albany, New York, so they took the chance and started their new lives in Upstate New York. They lived there for six years and moved to Clemmons in 2014 when a former manager from Nationwide Insurance recruited David to come work for him at National General Insurance (formerly GMAC) in Winston Salem. They had both always wanted to move to North Carolina and made this decision knowing it would be their final stop. The couple welcomed their twin boys, Beckett and Fielding, in July of that same year.
Michelle graduated from Thomas Worthington High School, the same high school as her fraternal grandparents and father attended, in 2001. She went to Ohio University and graduated cum laude in 2005 with a B.S. in Journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism, an often highly ranked journalism school, where she majored in Public Relations and had both a minor and specialization in Psychology.
In 2008, she started a masters program, to round out and add to, her professional experience. Michelle graduated in 2014 with a M.S. in Journalism from West Virginia University where she majored in Integrated Marketing Communications and received a 4.0.
Michelle started working when she was just eight years old by collecting cans, cleaning and crushing them for recycling. She had a weekly paper route by age ten and a daily paper route, which her entire family chipped in on, delivering the Columbus Dispatch from ages 12-17. She was also a hostess at a high end steakhouse for eight years from ages 16-24. Throughout her time there she was asked to take on more responsibilities and in her twenties was working during the day as an events assistant, managers assistant and handled customer service calls.
In college, Michelle was fortunate to have the opportunity to intern for the Ohio Department of Transportation where she supported three Public Information Officers in their day-to-day tasks of writing press releases, communicating with the press and the other odds and ends that happened to fall under their department. Soon after graduating college, she interned for Nationwide Insurance in their Corporate Communications department where she handled media monitoring and other lower level marketing and communication tasks.
Her first career was in television media sales where she sold advertising space and marketing plans to small businesses. First in Columbus and later in Albany. It was fun and fast-paced, but not the right fit. She moved on to a public relations and events role as a Membership Development Officer for a local credit union. There she partnered with large and small businesses to offer unique opportunities for their employees through the credit union. While in that role, she became active with a large, regional chamber of commerce – The Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce.
At the credit union she learned how much she enjoyed helping businesses better serve their employees. Moving on to work for the chamber was a natural transition and perfectly in tune with how she was developing a professional. From her media sales experience she knew how little money, time and energy small businesses had for marketing. From her credit union experience, she realized how much businesses wanted to contribute to the quality of lives of their employees but weren’t always sure how best to do that. The chamber allowed her the opportunity to problem solve for businesses large and small wether nestled in a downtown business district or out in the country. She worked with a gamut of industries including restaurants, manufacturers, technology companies. In addition to marketing and employee needs she began to learn more about the regulatory climate and what that meant for businesses.
After two years with the local chamber, she was recruited by the state chamber of commerce, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. to work in their membership department. At the local chamber she learned about the day-to-day impact of even the most insignificant sounding changes and how it could negatively or positively change their business. At the state level, she learned more about the regulatory climate and how well-meaning politicians could kill a business or even an entire industry in their state with policy changes that lacked foresight and inclusion of all stakeholders. Visit her LinkedIn page for more details.
When Michelle moved to North Carolina in the winter of 2014 she was in her second trimester and completing her masters degree. Michelle took this opportunity away from work to find a new home for her family and prepare for two infants. When the Barson family moved into Asbury Place neighborhood in June of 2014, Michelle took on commmunications responsibilities for the Homeowners Association. A year-and-a-half later she became president and served in that role for two years. During this time she also got involved volunteering for the Jerry Long Family YMCA, Clemmons Moravian Preschool and Holy Family Catholic Church. When the boys were nine months old she started work for the YMCA as part-time marketing support in the youth sports department. A year later, she was asked to coordinate the marketing and communications efforts for seven regional youth sports departments. She enjoyed both roles, but realized the second one was more than she could take on coupled with the responsibility of being a stay-at-home mom to twin toddlers.
While she stepped back from that role, she found two new ones to fill her time. She trained for, and began instructing, a fitness class at the YMCA and writes a blog each quarter for Triad Moms on Main. By July of 2017, she decided it was time to take a more active role in the community she plans to call her home for her and her family and decided to run for Clemmons Village Council. Councilwoman Barson won her seat on the council, and as mayor pro tempore (an honor given to the highest vote receiver), on November 7th.
Candidacy Announcement: Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017
Student Forum Coverage: November 2, 2017