Michaela
Bakala

In line with her maxim “head in the clouds and feet planted firmly on the ground” Michaela Bakala is a visionary but at the same time a pragmatic philanthropist and a businesswoman. She is an active and inspiring woman who takes part in running the family’s business operations but her main domain is philanthropy. She promotes education, development of a democratic society, and women’s role in society.

Strengthening the role of women

Born as Michaela Malacova in 1971 in Brno, Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia), Michaela Bakala graduated from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), majoring in film and TV production. While still a student, Michaela worked to organize the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

After graduating, she managed PR and communication for a major industrial company before becoming the head of the press department of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), one of the most prominent democratic political parties in the Czech Republic of the post-1989 era. In 2002 she initiated and co-founded Klub tiskových mluvčích [Spokespeople's Club], a professional association of the Czech spokespeople, where she also served as the first president. Michaela later established her own public relations agency and was involved in the creation of the branded beauty pageant Česká Miss [Miss Czech], which she subsequently headed and developed for a decade. Later she even broadened her extensive experience by completing prestigious Tuck Executive Program at Dartmouth College which creates an environment of engaged learning that strengthens strategic leadership and accelerates organizational impact.

Most important to her, Michaela is raising four children together with husband Zdeněk. She firmly believes that relationships between men and women must be built on partnerships and not on differences and competition. The foundations of forming one’s relationship to the opposite sex are mainly laid within the family.

Michaela says, “We women exert a significant influence over our families and the raising of our children, and therefore over the future of our society. We should hold in high esteem the role of women, as well as men, in making a prosperous and peaceful society, and the role of men, as well as women, in creating strong and supportive families.”

Michaela strives to embolden Czech women to believe in their capacities so that they might find the path to success. In addition to countless small-scale efforts of encouragement and support, Michaela is a proud patron of the Top Czech Women project, which recognizes prominent women serving in the public and private spheres of the Czech Republic.

Supporting young scholars and journalists

Michaela is primarily responsible for philanthropic activities pursued by the Bakala family, most notably as Chair of the Boards of Trustees of the Bakala Foundation in the Czech Republic and the Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala in Switzerland.

With a particular focus on education, the two foundations operate scholarship programs which have enabled scores of talented students to study in their chosen fields at prestigious universities abroad. The Bakala Foundation has also created a special education program for young journalists called Journey: Journalism Bootcamp. The Bakala Foundation’s newest project, the Kaplicky Internship, enables the best Czech architecture students to take up internships at top architecture firms in London.

Promoting social change and advancement

Michaela is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Václav Havel Library, an institution devoted to the legacy of President Václav Havel, including the archiving of Havel’s own works. The Library’s quarters provide space not only for scholarly activity but also for lively meetings of interested citizens. Its modern documentation centre studies the recent history of the Czech Republic.

Michaela and her husband Zdenek became involved in establishing a Central European branch of the prestigious US-based Aspen Institute. With an emphasis on identifying, educating, and supporting emerging future leaders, Aspen Institute Central Europe has created a regional forum for wide-ranging discussions focused on seeking solutions to social, economic, and ethical problems across the political spectrum.

Working as a business entrepreneur

Michaela is active in the business world, overseeing the operations of the Czech media house Economia, creation and development of the Prague business and entertainment complex Forum Karlín, and business strategy of Czech retailer Luxury Brand Management.

She is now substantially involved in forming a communication strategy for the family portfolio businesses – which Michaela sees as an opportunity to make good use of the many experiences she has gained as an employee, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mother of four children.

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