Michelle Markey sitting down

Alumni You Should Know – Michele (Gallipeau) Markey ’82, CEO of SkillPath, Mission, Kansas

When Michele Markey ascended to the pinnacle position of her sterling professional career, as Chief Executive Officer of SkillPath in 2020, there was virtually no time for celebration.

Instead, she inherited the mother of all “all hands on deck” situations.

A leader in learning and development that provides professionals with strategic and innovative training solutions in a variety of business areas (leadership, management, communications, information systems, human relations law and policy, etc.), the Mission, Kansas-based company was a heavy hitter in the industry, delivering training services to Fortune 500 companies, the federal government, the U.S. military and even franchises from all four major professional sports leagues.

But in early 2020, SkillPath was on a treacherous path – to potential disaster.

“When I first came here, this company, and indeed this industry, was in dire need of innovation,” said Markey, a 1982 graduate of William Woods. “The industry hadn’t really changed since I started doing training in the early 1990’s. In fact, when I started at SkillPath, I was shocked to see that some of the training programs they were using were ones that I had actually written myself back in the 1990’s.”

At the time, the company was relegated to having its hundreds of trainers traveling across the United States to deliver in-person trainings; even the scheduling system was done by maps and pushpins as opposed to by computer. Such a primitive way of operations became an outright disaster in March 2020 when COVID-19 hit, which grounded the in-person way of delivering training.

Suddenly, SkillPath had to innovate, and fast – and freshly minted CEO Michele Markey was up to the challenge of providing the leadership to turn on a dime.

“99 percent of our training was in-person, and we were flying trainers all over the U.S. and some international. But then COVID hit, and it all came to a screeching halt,” she recalled. “Our entire business was live, so we had to turn this around really quickly.”

Michelle Markey sitting down

With the company’s financial situation deteriorating rapidly, Markey did what Skillpath’s training programs are all about – she stepped up and led. The company’s training programs were converted from a standard 6-hour live training format to a 3-hour online version virtually overnight, which included rewriting much of the program’s content. All 200 company trainers had to be retrained themselves on the new technology. And SkillPath’s customer service team had to contact thousands of clients to reschedule live trainings to virtual.

It was a case study in leadership under pressure, and it worked. From taking over a company sitting on a financial precipice, in the midst of global pandemic that necessitated a complete overhaul of the company, SkillPath ended up having the most profitable year it had had in ten years.

Which just happened to be Michele Markey’s first full year as SkillPath CEO.


A Kansas City native, Markey began her college career at a large public university before transferring to The Woods for her last three years, a decision that changed her life.

“What I found was that the atmosphere, the smaller atmosphere, plus the connections you could make, and that people knew your name, and that your professors knew you, all meant that you could really find a home at William Woods,” Markey said. “I just knew that I could find a better, more high-quality college education at William Woods as opposed to my first choice and I still believe that to be true.”

Her college years were filled with making lifelong friends from across the country, at least one of which she still vacations with to this day. She loved getting to know her professors at what was then still an all-women’s college, was active in her sorority (Alpha Chi Omega), a member of the prestigious President’s 20, and formed valuable friendships with the men at cross-town Westminster College.

She also found what proved to be the best preparation for her professional career while at The Woods.

“Being able to serve in leadership positions while at William Woods, including President’s 20 and in my sorority, really helped me as an adult to understand what it means to be a leader,” she said. “I truly gained a sense of self, and how to make an impact, because you could really make an impact at William Woods.”

Which she did, graduating in 1982 with two majors (Political Science and Social Studies) and two minors (Secondary Education and Psychology).


Following WWU, Markey began teaching, earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and served as an adjunct professor at several colleges. She eventually drifted into consulting and training, found she loved it, and formed her own company, Heartland Training Solutions. Her skill and experience in creating and producing training programs for businesses eventually led to a plum position with the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, where she rose to the level of Vice-President of Kauffman FastTrac.

From there, she was recruited by the leadership of SkillPath, joining the organization in 2018 as Vice-President of Training Operations and then CEO in 2020. Today, the company is in great hands with her at the helm, with 200 trainers, 300 independent contractors and $50 million in assets.

“We do all types of business-related training, in what could fall under the category of durable skills training,” Markey said of SkillPath. “That could be leadership and management, communication, Microsoft products, occupational safety, human resources – pretty much anything a professional would need to upskill or re-skill themselves to keep up with the evolution of changing jobs and workplaces.”

For example, SkillPath is at the forefront of training businesses and professionals in timely and emerging challenges, staying on top of recent trends life cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and how to manage during a pandemic like COVID-19. 

“I have the ability here (at SkillPath) to make a difference, and to take an organization in a direction that is relevant and impactful,” she said about her leadership tenure at SkillPath. “Personally, it is very energizing to me to step into a place where one must always be innovative, with more competition in this field than ever, which helps sharpen your focus.”

Cleary, Michele Markey’s focus is on keeping an innovative, industry leader going in the right direction, just three years after her leadership of a great team of employees helped rescue it from the brink. “Don’t ever be afraid of striving for things that are outside of your comfort zone,” she advises today’s college students and young professionals. “Take stock of your abilities, your willingness to learn and ability to think and just move forward, always!”