McKinney Hammond, Michelle

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Michelle McKinney Hammond


Author, motivational speaker

A successful advertising executive up to the mid-1990s, Michelle McKinney Hammond then invented a new career providing insights into how to be a single Christian woman in pursuit of a healthy, fulfilling life, with or without a husband. McKinney Hammond published her first book, What to Do until Love Finds You: Getting Ready for Mr. Right, in 1997 and has since authored some twenty self-help books and become a sought-after relationship expert.

West Indian and African Roots

McKinney Hammond was born in London, England, in 1957. When she was two years old her parents divorced, and McKinney Hammond, whose mother is of West Indian descent, was sent to Barbados to live with her grandmother and aunt and uncle. McKinney Hammond's mother remained in London to complete her studies, and during this time she met and married William McKinney. When McKinney Hammond was seven years old, her mother came to Barbados with her new husband to reclaim her daughter. The family then moved to Muskegon, Michigan, in the United States, where McKinney Hammond spent the remainder of her childhood.

As a child, McKinney Hammond struggled with the changes in culture and with her own insecurities. She told Today's Christian Woman, "Each place left me with a heavy accent that made me different from all the other children in our next home. Besides that, I was an ugly ducklingwith a gap between my front teeth, glasses, and an extremely thin body. I was an easy target for neighborhood bullies!" During high school she developed an interest in music and theater and earned leading parts in both community and school stage and musical productions.

McKinney Hammond's father, George Hammond, returned to his native home of Ghana, West Africa, after he divorced McKinney Hammond's mother, and thereafter McKinney Hammond lost touch with him. When she was 14 years old, an aunt accidentally encountered her birth father while on a trip to Africa. As a result her father then flew to Michigan to be reunited with his daughter, rekindling the father-daughter relationship; the two have been close ever since. McKinney Hammond has never lived in Africa but visits her extended family once or twice a year, and she began using the last names of both her fathers.

Moved to Chicago

After completing high school McKinney Hammond moved to Chicago, where she attended and graduated from the Ray-Vogue College of Design (now known as the Illinois Institute of Art). Following her graduation she flew to Ghana to meet her father's family for the first time. During the trip McKinney Hammond, who was raised in the Episcopalian church but was not a practicing Christian at the time, was deeply influenced by her paternal grandmother, a devoutly religious woman who spend several hours every day in prayer at a local church.

Five months after McKinney Hammond returned from her trip to Africa, she was devastated when her boyfriend was shot and killed. Her life in shambles, she searched for validation in a series of relationships and friendships that did not stick. Having emerged from her self-professed ugly-duckling stage, she sought the excitement of a glamorous life and interviewed to become a Playboy bunny. But she continued to feel unfulfilled and without purpose.

McKinney Hammond's life was impacted by two life-altering events. First, searching desperately for the peace she witnessed in her grandmother's life, McKinney Hammond was moved by her reading of Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth, which lays out a particular vision of what God intended for Christians. Second, a woman who shared a bus ride with on her way to work each morning constantly pestered McKinney Hammond to attend church with her. Finally McKinney Hammond acquiesced, and during the service the minister prayed for McKinney Hammond, telling her that God loved her very much. McKinney Hammond, who was very moved by the experience, claimed to finally begin to feel at peace with herself.

From Advertising Executive to Author

Having become a committed Christian, McKinney Hammond decided to forego becoming a Playboy bunny and landed a job with the nation's largest minority-owned advertising firm, the Chicago-based Burrell Advertising, where she eventually became an associate creative director. During her tenure at Burrell, her clients included Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Proctor and Gamble, and General Motors. Eventually McKinney Hammond left Burrell to create her own advertising agency, McKinney Creates, providing services as a copywriter, art director, and advertising director. She also produced short films, infomercials, and commercials. McKinney Hammond received a U.S. Television Award for a commercial she produced, more than twenty Creative Excellence in Black Advertising awards, a Windy Award, and both the golden and bronze International Television Association PHILO Award.

Although her professional and devotional life was on track, McKinney Hammond continued to struggle with finding a healthy, positive personal relationship with a man. In the early 1990s she thought she had finally found the right person, but when their relationship ended, McKinney Hammond was once again feeling devastated and alone. Searching for some help, she went the bookstore to purchase a book about being single. Dissatisfied with what she found, McKinney Hammond decided she should write her own book. Although she began writing the book in 1991, she did not actually finish it until 1995, when a bad accident in which she was struck by a car laid her up for a year and a half. The result was What to Do until Love Finds You: Getting Ready for Mr. Right, published in 1997.

The gist of McKinney Hammond's message is that single women must first find enjoyment and fulfillment in their singleness. Writing from her own often painful experience, McKinney Hammond told Today's Christian Woman, "I've found that when we single women stop asking, 'Why am I alone?' and start asking God, 'Why am I here?' our whole world changes. We start rediscovering old dreams and discover creative ideas on how to use our gifts to bless other people. Finding a mate becomes less important when we find joy and meaning, because that hole in our heart isn't about a person. It's about fulfilling our God-given purposewhat we were created to do and be. Only then will you find true peace and satisfactionwhether you're married or not."

At a Glance...

Born in 1957 in London, England; daughter of William McKinney; step-daughter of George Hammond. Education: Attended Ray-Vogue College of Design (now known as the Illinois Institute of Art). Religion: Christian.

Career: Author and motivational speaker, 1997; Burrell Advertising, Chicago, Associate creative director; McKinney Creates, Chicago, founder and president; HeartWing Ministries, Chicago, founder and president.

Selected Awards: U.S. Television Award (commercial, producer); multiple Creative Excellence in Black Advertising awards; Windy Award; International Television Association PHILO Awards.

Addresses: Office HeartWing Ministries, P.O. Box 11052, Chicago, IL 60611. Web

Became Relationship Expert

Following on the success of What to Do until Love Finds You, over the next ten years McKinney Hammond penned twenty books dealing with a Christian understanding of singleness. Although she affirms that single women must "get a life," she does not negate the value of the marriage relationship or leave finding the right man to pure happenstance. Many of her titlesincluding Secrets of an Irresistible Woman (1998), The Power of Femininity (1999), If Men Are Like Buses, Then How Do I Catch One? (2000), 101 Ways to Get and Keep His Attention (2003), The Power of Being a Woman: Embracing the Triumph of the Feminine Spirit (2004), and Ending the Search for Mr. Right: How to Be Found by the Man You've BeenLooking For (2005)give practical advice on how to attract a desirable mate.

Although McKinney Hammond's teaching on how to break the cycle of unhealthy relationships and develop into a single woman that men find attractive has earned her thousands of loyal followers and high praise, her approach is not without detractors. Some critics find her advice highly suspect, such as her admonition to women to remember their role as followers and to allow the man to lead in the relationship. Likewise, her practical advice that women must pay more attention to men's basic needs, such as providing a clean, cozy home and home-cooked meals, and attend carefully to how they look and smell, garnered criticism on some fronts. Despite her critics, McKinney Hammond has many faithful readers who find her down-to-earth, girlfriend-in-your-living-room writing style refreshing and inspiring.

With the success of her books, McKinney Hammond became a sought-after relationship expert, and as a result she created HeartWing Ministries to promote and coordinate her writing and speaking obligations. She travels the country teaching at women's conferences, seminars, churches, and universities, co-hosts the Emmy-nominated Christian television talk show Aspiring Women, and regularly appears on other Christian television shows. She also does voice-overs for television and radio commercials. In early 2005, McKinney Hammond, who once aspired to a professional music career, was finishing up her first CD, It's Amazing, produced by Inner Light Records.

Selected works


What to Do Until Love Finds You: Getting Ready for Mr. Right, Harvest House Publishers, 1997.

Secrets of an Irresistible Woman, Harvest House, 1998.

The Power of Femininity, Harvest House, 1999.

If Men Are Like Buses, Then How Do I Catch One?, Multnomah Publishers, 2000.

How to Be Blessed and Highly Favored: Living Richly under the Smile of God, WaterBrook Press, 2001.

Where Are You, God?, Harvest House, 2002.

Why Do I Say "Yes" When I Need to Say "No"?, Harvest House, 2002.

(With Joel A. Brooks, Jr.) The Unspoken Rules of Love: What Women Don't Know and Men Don't Tell You, WaterBrook Press, 2003.

101 Ways to Get and Keep His Attention, Harvest House, 2003.

(With Holly Virden) If Singleness Is a Gift, What's the Return Policy?, T. Nelson, 2003.

The Power of Being a Woman: Embracing the Triumph of the Feminine Spirit, Harvest House, 2004.

Ending the Search for Mr. Right: How to Be Found by the Man You've Been Looking For, Harvest House, 2005.


It's Amazing, Inner Light Records, 2005.



Black Enterprise, November 2004, p. 188.

Black Issue Book Review, July 2001, p. 64; January-February 2003, p. 72-73.

Library Journal, January 1, 2005, p. 134.

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2000, p. 95; July 23, 2001, p. 71.

Today's Christian Woman, March-April 1999; September-October 2001; March-April 2003, p. 11.


"Michell McKinney Hammond," Biography Resource Center, (February 18, 2005).

"Michelle McKinney Hammond," Harvest House Publishers, (February 18, 2005).

"Michelle McKinney Hammond: Her Life, Ministry, and Career," Kregel Christian Books and Resources, (February 18, 2005).

"Michelle McKinney Hammond Official Web Site," (February 18, 2005).

Kari Bethel

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McKinney Hammond, Michelle

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