Michelle Brenwald-Johnson Recognized as a Woman Who Leads
Women Who Lead recognition published in Wichita Business Journal on September 24, 2020
WBJ Interview with Michelle Brenwald, Klenda Austerman Litigation Attorney and Partner
What is your leadership style? If someone takes time from their day to sit at the table of your organization, the most valuable thing you can do is listen. Give them a voice and make them part of the conversation. A good leader can take all of the different positions presented, find a common element between them, and bring a group of varying and conflicting ideas to agreement.
When did you first feel like a leader? I do not think anyone looks in the mirror and says “today is the day I feel like a leader.” If you have natural leadership skills, “leading” is a lifetime process of refinement. We are always learning to do better for the people who rely on us.
Who are your mentors and how have they influenced you career? I do not have a specific mentor, but I do have those who influence and inspire me to be a better leader. My business partner, Chasity Helm, makes a conscious effort every day to lead, inspire and motivate her staff and the people with whom she works. It certainly takes a lot of positive energy and we all need a good dose of that now and then to remind us of our long-term goals and commitments.
What are you doing to mentor women in your industry? Leading by example, and inviting other women “to the table” to give them a voice beside me whenever I have the opportunity.
Best advice for young women considering your industry? Being a private practice lawyer takes commitment. Finding the balance between home and office can be a challenge, but it can be done! If you find yourself struggling to make it work, reach out to women around you that have gone through the process.
What female leaders do you admire? I admire female leaders who use their platform and influence to make a positive impact on young girls. These women are right here in Wichita coaching soccer teams and running clubs, taking on Girl Scout troops and after school organizations, managing sports groups and serving as homeroom moms. Many are doing it while managing their households or juggling full-time jobs. They are leading by example, teaching our girls the power of hard work and independence!
What was your career path? My career path was pretty standard – four-year college, three-year law school, first job, second job. I am now approaching my 19th anniversary with my firm.
What inspired you to choose a career in your industry? I wish I had a great answer for this but I do not. My maternal Grandmother loved the show L.A. Law when I was growing up, and I loved and admired her to an extreme. I knew a career as a lawyer would make her proud. As a mom, I remember how impacted I was at a young age by the thoughts and opinions of those around me who I so dearly admired, and now I make a conscious effort to be a positive influence to the little girls now in my life to make sure they explore and follow their own true passions.
What do you like most about your job? Flexibility, not only with my schedule but also with my practice areas. Over the span of my career, my practice focus has and continues to evolve to suit both the needs of my clients and my personal interests. As a general practitioner, I have worked to help clients resolve business disagreements, human resource dilemmas, employment complaints, and construction disputes. I have conducted investigations into accidents, claims of mass theft and fraud, and medical negligence. I help individual clients navigate the unknown areas of insurance billing and accident recovery. Every day is a new adventure!
The attorneys at Klenda Austerman benefit from Michelle’s leadership daily. Congratulations Michelle for being selected as one of the Wichita Business Journal’s Women Who Lead in Professional Services.
To read the entire publication, click here.