President and Founder | Wheels Up
Michele Erwin is a working mom at a large retailer, where she is a sourcing business manager. Michele is also the President and Founder of All Wheels Up. Michele took on a second career as she saw a need in the disability community to address the white space for true accessible air travel, which is a wheelchair spot on airplanes, as you find on buses and trains today. Michele created the Not-for-profit All Wheels Up that is funding the necessary research needed to advance the conversation and prove the feasibility for a wheelchair spot on planes.
As a parent of child who uses a wheelchiar, Michele became very aware how difficult and, in some cases, dangerous for wheelchair users to travel by airplane. Based her firsthand experience Michele created All Wheels Up. All Wheels Up is the only organization in the world funding the research needed for a wheelchair spot on airplanes. Taking on this platform, Michele is known as a “disrupter of the aviation industry”. She has initiated a new area of study at Universities and advanced congressional and industry conversation regarding the future of accessible airtravel and plane design. Michele worked to outline the path forward from moving past advocacy efforts to funding research for a wheelchair spot on airplanes as well as creating programs to help individual passengers with disabilities stay safe during today’s standards until true accessible air travel is possible. Michele’s work made it possible for the 2018 FAA re-authorization act to be signed by President Trump with the provision for a feasibility study for a wheelchair spot for In-cabin use. Michele has been interviewed and quoted in multiple publications/media such as Aviation Week, NPR, USA Today, BBC, Yahoo Travel, Aljazeera America Magazine, The Washington Post, and other notable travel and disability blogs.
Michele was an expert witness at the first congressional House Hearing for accessible air travel, an invited TEDx speaker, National Council for Independent Living Advocacy award winner, and a two-time bronze Stevie Award winner for women in business for a not-for-profit and for Best American business – Not for profit.
Michele has inspired an industry to look to the future of not just accessible airtravel, but the future of aviation, university studies, wheelchair design. Due to her informative presentations and positive and responsible messaging, she has gained the respect of congress, the aviation industry and the wheelchair and wheelchair tie down industry. Michele is a collaborative partner understanding the concerns of industry (safety and economics) and bringing facts to her presentations regarding accessible air travel because she invested in the research.