Machelle Baker Sanders

Secretary of Commerce, NC Commerce

A native of Belhaven, North Carolina, Sanders brings extensive experience in both management and leadership to her role at Commerce. A seasoned pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive, Secretary Sanders earlier in her career served as vice president of manufacturing and general manager of Biogen’s largest and most advanced manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP). She also held leadership positions overseeing manufacturing, global quality assurance and quality control functions at Biogen, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and Diosynth-Akzo Nobel.  Prior to joining the Department, Secretary Sanders led another cabinet-level agency, the North Carolina Department of Administration.

A graduate of North Carolina State University, Sanders holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a Master of Health Administration from Pfeiffer University. As a native North Carolinian and mother of twin daughters, she is passionate about improving the status of women in our state. Some of her work includes creating a Women’s Innovation Network at Biogen. After all, as Sanders puts it, “Improving the status of women in North Carolina is not just a woman’s issue. This is a family, poverty and economic issue.”

Sanders is also a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion and currently is the Chair of the North Carolina Commission on Inclusion, North Carolina Complete Count Commission and the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force. Additionally, she serves on the Interagency Council for Coordinating Homeless Programs (ICCHP), Governor’s Advisory Council Commission on Aging, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/ Latino Affairs, North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs and the N.C. State Board of Visitors.

Her passion to help improve the lives of North Carolinians today and for a better tomorrow has led to her present role as the state’s Commerce Secretary, heading up North Carolina’s lead agency for economic, community, and workforce development.