Michaela Bakala

Michaela Bakala is a changemaker, manager and entrepreneur committed to the charitable support of education, democratic resilience, and female empowerment, as well as access to mental health care.
Michaela earned a master’s degree in film and television production at the Academy of Performing Arts in the Czech Republic and assisted in organizing the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. After graduation, she moved into public relations and communications, first in the private sector and later as head of the press office of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS).
In that role, Michaela co-founded and became president of the first professional Club of Press Spokespersons in the Czech Republic. Upon leaving politics, she launched her own public relations agency. After winning the title of Miss Czechoslovakia in 1991, Michaela founded the Czech Miss beauty contest, which she owned and managed for 10 years. In recent years, she has helped manage the family’s investments worldwide, including media, retails, and real estate businesses in the United States, Switzerland, South Africa, and the Czech Republic.
Michaela’s main passion, however, is philanthropy. As chairwoman of the Bakala Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Michaela develops the family’s philanthropic activities, and is closely involved in the Foundation's programs supporting the education of talented Czech youth and nurturing the values of modern democracy. She is a jury member for the annual selection of new scholars for the Foundation’s flagship Scholarship Program, which has enabled more than 200 students to study at prestigious universities around the world.
Michaela's dedication to learning and education extends beyond the classroom. She and her husband, Zdenek, were instrumental in founding the Václav Havel Library in Prague and have been the organization’s strategic partners for 20 years. Michaela has served on the library’s Board of Trustees for more than a decade and has been Advisory Board chair since June 2023.
With Michaela’s support, the library is committed to preserving the legacy and ideas of Václav Havel, including his struggle for freedom, democracy, and the protection of human rights. The library also strives to bring modern history to future generations and to contribute to the development of civil society. Since its founding in 2004, the library has become a vibrant, internationally respected institution.
Additionally, the Bakalas played a key role in founding the Central European branch of the Aspen Institute in Prague in 2012 and remain its strategic partners. As a member of the Supervisory Board, Michaela contributes to shaping the organization’s future.
In South Africa, the Bakalas support the Frederick W. de Klerk Foundation, where Michaela serves on the Board of Trustees alongside its chairwoman, Elita de Klerk. This world-renowned institution promotes democracy, freedom, and human rights in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and is dedicated to safeguarding the South African constitution by preserving the legacy of former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Frederik Willem de Klerk.
Michaela is also committed to helping women excel in their careers. She is the patron of the prestigious Top Women of the Czech Republic survey, which for almost two decades has recognized successful women from the private and public spheres, inspiring other female leaders.
At TOP Women of Czechia 2020 with Eva Jiřičná
Michaela is active in the field of mental health and is studying psychology. This interest stems from her belief that mental health care should be part of the education system and that high-quality, professional care should be available to all. The Bakala Foundation contributes to several organizations and projects focused on mental well-being, particularly of children and young people. The Foundation, in partnership with the Czech National Institute of Mental Health, also ensures access to quality counseling and mental health care to its scholarship recipients.
Michaela lives in the United States with her husband, Zdenek, and their four children.