I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people. – Maya Angelou

 

About Melodye

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

When my third-grade teacher wrote that question on the blackboard, I knew the answer before she returned the chalk to the tray. I scribbled it into my Big Chief tablet, fat and dark, an indelible promise that I'd become the kind of teacher I'd always wished for but never had: someone who took special notice of the kids who disappeared, for whatever reason, into the furthest reaches of an overcrowded classroom. And when I grew up, I did just that. I taught disadvantaged, underprepared, and underrepresented students (from 7th grade through college); and later, as President of the National Association of Developmental Education, I helped make those students visible to a broader audience.

I'm passionate about helping "the least of these" in other ways, too-- lending hands-on support to volunteer organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank, for instance, and holding myself accountable to the African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.”  Sometimes that means stepping out of your comfort zone, but I'm not afraid to do that. When a violent crime was inflicted upon an immediate family member, for example, I proposed and helped draft California State Assembly Bill 2165 – legislation that promotes victims’ rights and clarifies the responsibilities of convicted felons. In September 2006, that bill was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

An experienced public speaker with a storyteller’s sensibilities, I've delivered keynote addresses, seminars, and small-group sessions to nonprofit and professional associations around the world, for audiences ranging from 20 to well over 2,000. I earned a Master Presenter Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, and have been quoted on a variety of subjects, in publications such as Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today. Whether I'm working with large organizations, small businesses, or entrepreneurs, I value the long-term relationships I've forged, and appreciate the opportunity to bring unique stories into focus.

As a published author, I write to a wide audience. Here are some examples of my recent works: “Luz,” my autobiographical essay, is included in the Young Adult anthology, Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen). “Lessons I Learned from Nana” is featured in The Girl Guide: Finding Your Place in a Mixed-Up World (Prufrock Press). The Los Angeles Times published my piece, "Why I Gave the KKK 'Exactly What It Wanted' and Protested Its Hate;" and two personal essays, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" and "Grace Notes," were published on Manifest-Station, the immensely popular online journal. My own blog, A Joyful Noise, is an eclectic mix of illustrated essays about the things that catch my eye and capture my imagination.

When I'm not at my desk, chances are I'm seeking inspiration in my backyard or at the beach, or hosting writing retreats in the redwoods. My current book project, Can I Get a Witness? Memoir of a Tent Evangelist’s Daughter, chronicles an itinerant childhood during which my family and I crisscrossed the country in a cramped sedan, setting up Pentecostal revival meetings wherever we landed. I also do freelance writing and consultant work, providing clients with concierge-style service and delivering customized projects that get results.

Some of my fondest memories come of indulging my insatiable curiosity about...well, everything. I'm a big believer in following your daydreams. One of my topmost bucket list items, recently realized? Singing onstage with the Harlem Gospel Choir--oh happy day! I enjoy traveling but feel most at home in Southern California, where I live with my husband Eric. It is there—inspired by hummingbirds, palm trees, and ocean breezes—that I indulge my interests in photography, gardening, and plotting new adventures.