Hitting refresh—a farewell from Shelley Stern Grach

 |   Shelley Stern Grach

A look at great moments with Shelley over the years. Collage made by Mary Monroy-Spampinato.

Dear Community Colleagues, 

After nearly 44 years in corporate America, I’m announcing my retirement, effective November 16, 2018. As many of you know, I started my career with Michigan Bell in Flint, Michigan as one of the first women in the sales office at the ripe age of 24. From there, I progressed to Redford, Michigan and then to AT&T’s corporate HQ in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, during the amazing time of the divestiture of the Bell System. In 1988, I moved to Chicago where I became a Sales Vice President and began my involvement with our local community partners. Following sales leadership roles both in Chicago and internationally, I moved from AT&T to Microsoft in 2003. For the last 15 years, I have been blessed to be part of a company which operated with the highest values and with a true commitment to helping people realize their full potential.

My work over the past several years with each of you has been an honor, as we have truly collaborated to deliver strong programs in our local communities to help people gain 21st-century skills to build their economic empowerment. Despite my personal lifestyle change, Microsoft’s commitment to the community and our supporting programs and investments will continue and I hope you will continue to work collaboratively with our local team. Many of you already know my wonderful colleague, Adam Hecktman. Adam will be Microsoft’s chief community ambassador in Chicago, where we have partnered for years, for our programs focused on digital skills, workforce/career paths, nonprofit support and civic tech.

At this stage of our lives, my husband Mark and I simply want to spend more time together. We’ve both been truly blessed to have found our soul mate and best friend in life, and we want to take advantage of our time together.  We are incredibly lucky to have the flexibility to make this choice. With our daughter Stephanie nearly done with medical school and on her way, now seems like a good time to simplify our lives, reduce external stress and simply be together more, doing the things we love.

So what will we be doing? We’re consolidating everything to our Michigan home to start. I’m planning on getting my Masters in Jewish Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago.

We want to do more of this….

Shelley's husband Mark enjoying vacation
Shelley’s husband Mark enjoying vacation

We’ve got trips lined up for the next few years: Italy, Disney World, Israel and Cuba… and we want to see more of the world and wake up to mornings like this:

One of Shelley's vacation photos.
One of Shelley’s vacation photos.

And most important, once we know where Stephanie will be doing her residency, we want to be spending more time with these two amazing young people. Of course, I’ll be dreaming of a wedding and grandchildren… but NO rush!

Shelley's daughter Stephanie, pictured here with her partner
Shelley’s daughter Stephanie, pictured here with her partner

A lot of our flexibility in making this choice at this moment in time is due to my terrific experiences at Microsoft, and to many of you. Working, playing, laughing, complaining, doing, sharing, building the vision and just being with you all has been a dream. Thank you again for your partnership and friendship. I have been truly blessed to have one of the best jobs in the world, in two of the greatest cities in the country. If you’d like to stay in touch, you can find me on social at @ShelleyStern.

Shelley Stern Grach
Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.