Hi, I'm Melissa
I am a proud Hoosier and Fort Wayne native. I hail from a long line of hardworking German and Belgian immigrant families. A family ethos of serving and championing others was instilled in me at a young age. The arts were also emphasized in my familial home, so it is no coincidence that my siblings and I pursued creative career paths after graduating from R. Nelson Snider High School. I gravitated to cultural anthropology, my brother chose fine arts, and my sister was drawn to journalism.
I received my undergraduate degree in Political Science from Indiana University-Fort Wayne (1992) while minoring in Spanish and Anthropology. I then attended the University of Texas-San Antonio for a Master's degree in Cultural Anthropology (1996) and years later obtained my doctorate in the same at Michigan State University (2006). These accomplishments don't compare to being a single mom, though. Sedona has enriched my life beyond measure and gives me great hope about the future.
"We have a moral obligation
to serve our community."
What informs my positions...
Understanding my immigrant heritage.
Raised and surrounded by educators.
Raised to champion those who cannot or do not champion themselves.
Raised and surrounded by labor-strong middle class families.
Being a single mother.
Knowing what it is like to be at-risk.
Training as a social scientist and viewing persons, places and things objectively.
And, always questioning how I can make a difference.
MY CAREER PATH
I was a university professor for much of my career and enjoyed teaching a great deal. It was wonderful to see students critical thinking abilities grow. As a social scientist, I also liked conducting research and writing. But, my path as an educator changed when a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January, 2010. My research area was never in Haiti (My area of specialization was Native Americans). I knew no Haitians and I had never even been to Haiti, but I was touched in an inexplicable way. I ended up conducting a city-wide Haitian relief effort a week after the earthquake struck which resulted in the collection of 17 tons of rice, beans, and water. Donations were flown to Port Au Prince courtesy of the State Department and FedEx. After planning this event, I knew my calling was elsewhere. Two years later I returned to Fort Wayne and forged a new career path.
I have worked for area non-profits ever since. Serving at-risk communities is extremely gratifying work and as many have said, a 'perfect fit for someone like' me. My training in culture, research, writing, education, development and public speaking have been tremendous assets for working in the Human Services. I feel blessed to go to work every day knowing that I'm leading an organization into its next few chapters of helping people where they're at.
And, it's for these very reasons I also ran for Perry Township Trustee in 2018. This elected office offers poor relief and emergency rescue services to township residents - two areas I could not be more supportive of. By running for office, I learned a great deal about myself and about my community. I am forever grateful for this experience and made many new friends along the way. Civic engagement will always remain extremely important to me.