By Nicole Aguiniga
Making my way the Woodland Shores area of Lee’s Summit, hidden on Blue Heron drive, was a little mailbox and a long driveway that lead to the home of Machelle Riffe. Machelle’s Husband, Jim, with their company, Riffe Homes and Development created Woodland Shores. Here, on 13 acres, they built their dream home. The lovely home looks over Prairie Lee Lake and is complete with a barn and four horses.
Recently, they redeveloped Woodland Trails in Lee’s Summit, bringing their “great outdoors” design style to over 500 acres in the Lee’s Summit school district just south on 150 Hwy.
But through their years of building houses and building their family, Machelle was busy pursuing her own career paths. Now, she owns Machelle Riffe Real Estate with Keller Williams Platinum Partners and she believes that all the pursuits and “paths of life” have led her to helping families with “the most personal business decision they’ll ever make.”
Before Machelle and Jim were married, she was hired by Proctor and Gamble selling promotions after going to the University of Missouri for Journalism with an emphasis in advertising. Machelle explained her job, “For five years. I was in a unit [of the marketing department] of 32 people. At that time, Kansas City had the perfect demographic mix as a test market. We sold promotions behind those test markets and launched a ton of consumer products we all recognize today.” P&G is where Machelle learned to see through the eyes of the consumer, and translate her product features into meaningful benefits for them.
When Machelle and Jim married and started their family, she decided to take time off to be with their two daughters. While at home, she oversaw advertising, marketing and public relations for Riffe Homes and Development.
She also freelanced for the Kansas City Star writing human-interest stories. Machelle said that, “My primary job was keeping our family moving along. Working with our business and freelancing gave me the flexibility I needed at that time in my life.”
Then around 2002, Machelle was approached by a board member at her children’s school, Summit Christian Academy.
“They were looking to do their first major capital campaign; to build a high school facility. They asked me to interview for their first Director of Development. I did.”
Machelle became the first director and stayed for an unexpected ten years, leading the marketing, recruitment, fundraising and donor development. “As everybody does at a private Christian school, I wore a lot of hats. We all did.” Machelle helped raised over 2 million dollars for the construction of a new high school facility and she ran their annual campaigns.
“Working for ten years in fundraising and major donor development is about building relationship, with people who share your mission. It was really the relationship business.”
Machelle loves working with “ordinary people doing extraordinary things” and she said her years at SCA were like living a miracle for ten years. “It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. For me, it was one of those defining moments in your life that give perspective and relevance to everything else you do.”
When looking back at working with Summit Christian Academy, “You don’t do anything by yourself. I just think about all the different people who stepped up when they were needed. There are a host of faces in my memory. Each and every one of them is a special person.”
After her youngest graduated, she decided it was time to graduate too and so she opened her own fundraising firm and started working with small nonprofits.
Then, around 2012, Machelle was serving on the board of directors for Saint Luke’s East Hospital. “They [the hospital] needed someone to help them get their development program off the ground. I started in a consulting role, then ended up taking over the Development Director role as a consultant.” Machelle helped the hospital populate their advisory boards, structure their development program, and build a community of support around the hospital and around its initiatives.
Machelle led Boo Ball, the hospital’s main gala event. “I built a committee of over 40 people, hand picking people from my own sphere of influence, from the years of raising money, and being involved in the community. We set a goal and we succeeded it the first year with a sold out event. The second year we bumped our goal and surpassed it with another sold out event.” The Boo Ball rose to the Saint Luke’s system’s highest “net dollars raised event”. The money raised went to help build, the Appearance Renewal Center, infusion bays for the cancer treatment center and a fund for cancer patients.
“It was another example of people coming together to do something pretty amazing! It was another defining moment for me, an example of what people can accomplish together.”
After over 13 years of helping organizations fundraise she was ready for a different challenge. Now, as owner of Machelle Riffe Real Estate, she is still working with people, leveraging years of homebuilding, marketing, advertising and relationship development. It was a natural transition and has opened the next chapter for Machelle. Reflecting, Machelle has some advice for young women who are finding their own balance between family and career.
“Women can bring something to the table that’s uniquely theirs. I do not believe you have to leave your femininity at the door. We are blessed with insight into human nature and our sensitivity can be our greatest strength in business,” Don’t fight the tide! Go with your natural gifts. Enjoy your children, enjoy your sphere of influence, and use every opportunity to forge meaningful relationships. God will open doors. Just be sure you walk through them when he does.”
With her children married and starting their own careers, Machelle said, “I’m still growing as a professional. So far, life has been an appetizer and I’m just starting in on the main course!”
For more information about buying a home you can contact Machelle at 816-875-6585 and visit www.machellesellshomes.com.
Look for this weekly column showcasing the successful women of Lee's Summit. To recognize women who have dug in their high heels and are making an impact contact email@example.com