Remembrance: Michelle Dryer

Leon Fooksman
January 24, 2017

Michelle Dryer, 56, of West Palm Beach, passed away January 12. She was an active LPBC alum and member of Leadership Engage Class of 2014.

Her LPBC classmate Leon Fooksman offers this remembrance.

I loved watching Michelle Dryer in action.

At leadership panels, committee meetings, and other events, she would listen, think and then ask the right questions:

How does this benefit the community? Is this inclusive of everyone? Have you factored in how this will impact minorities?

Michelle and I were colleagues in the Leadership Engage Class of 2014. For the entire year, we often sat on the bus together during our leadership program days and we dissected all the issues. There was rarely a quiet moment as we delved deep into criminal justice reform, farming subsidies, healthcare, government ethics, nonprofit managements, and so on.  

Off the bus, in the halls of government, hospitals and businesses, she challenged our speakers and our hosts with her questions, analysis, and hubris.

I got to know her well. I didn’t always agree with her perspective, but I appreciated her stance on the issues.

Michelle was a natural activist and leader.  She was caring, determined, and strong. Really strong. She let few people know about her failing health until the final weeks of her life. I had no idea she was battling cancer during our leadership program year and found out after she reluctantly told me just days before our program ended.

As Director of Community Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives at CareerSource Palm Beach County, Michelle focused on making a positive impact for those seeking work and improving their careers. In addition, she got involved in many other vital issues, including serving on a training team as a cultural competency expert. On top of that, she worked with Nell Smith Residence for Girls in West Palm Beach, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, and many other organizations.

She also found time to give back to LPBC, serving on committees and helping to organize events. No wonder she was nominated for the 2016 Leadership Excellence Award.

Her viewpoints were recognized locally and nationally. She hosted her own radio show for many years at WJNO (AM – 1290). She was featured in Essence and Palm Beacher magazines as well as appeared on the Phil Donahue show. And she loved the theater and the International Thespian Society, participating in several casts throughout the nation.

What an extraordinary life.

I’ll miss her sharp wit, insights and those great questions.

Michelle is survived by her mother and two sons. Her LPBC classmates have set up a fund to assist Michelle's family in covering big expenses in the coming weeks. Any donation ($25, $50, $100 or more) would go a long way in helping her family during this difficult time. Donate here.

Condolences may be sent by mail to Michelle’s family care of her mother, Mrs. Judith Dryer, 2770 Foxhall Drive W, West Palm Beach, FL 33417.