Share this Post
One woman, three companies and boundless charitable contributions
Michelle Congleton Smith, a Fayetteville native who has lived in Raleigh since she was 3 years old, is no stranger to hard work, multitasking and giving back. A third-generation graduate of East Carolina University, she holds her undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in substance abuse and mental health. Smith started her career as a therapist, “even though her parents always felt she should be a lawyer because she loved to argue,” she laughs.
Smith made that dream a reality by supplementing her day job with North Carolina Central University’s evening law school program. Reflecting back, Smith says working full time and attending law school taught her the importance of hard work and structuring her time; it was also where she discovered her true passion.
A crackerjack from the start, Smith was offered a position as legal assistant and paralegal while still in school. That experience gave her the skillset and chops she needed to start her own law firm, Impact Law, which focuses primarily on real estate, refinancing, closings and general brokerage. Having her own firm gave Smith the flexibility to succeed both as an attorney and as a single mom—a feat that would have proven more difficult had she remained a therapist.
At 32, Smith was working full time—a mother juggling it all while still wanting to do more and give back to the community. A lover of fashion and a former childhood model, Smith came up with a concept in which businesses could hire volunteer models for their time, and proceeds would be donated to select charities throughout the year. The concept, which Smith dubbed Models for Charity, was born in 2009. Models for Charity allowed Smith to combine two of her greatest passions—fashion and charity—into a family affair with her 3-year-old son walking the runway.
Through networking and Impact Law, Smith met her husband, Shaun Smith, a licensed real estate agent and land developer. He encouraged Smith to go back to school yet again to get a real estate license. Together, they founded Society Real Estate, which, much like Models for Charity, places a large focus on giving back to the community. “One percent of every commission on a home sale is given back to the local community in an effort to put an end to homelessness,” says Smith. The Society Real Estate team handpicked A Lotta Love and CASA to be charity partners, as each of these charity’s core mission is to be a part of solutions to combat homelessness in Triangle.
When she’s not working, Smith enjoys reading—fiction is her escape—along with listening to podcasts, meditation, yoga stretching, and focusing on the importance of sleep for mental health and productivity. “I believe in honoring my body’s circadian rhythm, and when I am tired, I go to bed, and when rested, I wake up,” Smith says.
Living with this balanced yet unstructured lifestyle has allowed Smith to do the things she personally enjoys while having a career that she loves. 2020 was a blessing in disguise for Smith—while her charity work became virtual, she found that taking time for family is now easier and more frequent. Smith encourages other women “to be kind to yourself. As women, we are so hard on ourselves, and we are our own worst critics. Know that you work really hard—and that that’s enough.”
Share this Post