Melanie Kadlic Meren has a lifelong passion for promoting strong schools to make strong communities.
Melanie’s work to improve education spans decades. As a middle school student growing up on Long Island, NY, she gathered hundreds of peer signatures to oppose school district budget cuts – her first foray into education advocacy. Near the same time, during a family trip to Washington, DC, Melanie envisioned returning to that city one day to promote education policies that help all children.
Melanie achieved that goal when she began her career at the US Department of Education in 2002, Master’s degree in hand from the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. Employed in the Elementary and Secondary Education Office, she worked as a civil servant in the heart of the sweeping change ushered in by the No Child Left Behind Act. Traveling to states and meeting with educators showed Melanie the power that education policy has on educators, students, systems, and communities. Seeking a more holistic and effective approach to education became the core tenet to all her future work.
Melanie has been an independent communications consultant at MKM Strategies for over 10 years. As a communications, organizational management, and public policy professional, she specializes in local, statewide, and national efforts to strengthen education. She has a particular passion for connecting children with nature and environmental stewardship. She uses her skills in communications, network building, and organizational management to get things done. Melanie prides herself in keeping the joy present in her work, and collaborating alongside others.
Advocacy and community are at the core of her life. Joined by her husband, Drew Meren, the two are active in local government. A current PTA member in both her children’s schools, Melanie also served as a school PTA Green Team Chair for years. She is a member of the Virginia Association for Environmental Education. Until 2019, she was a Leadership Team member for eight years of NoVA Outside, the alliance for outdoor educators in Northern Virginia.
Melanie completed the prestigious Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program at UVA in December 2018, having spent a year exploring policy issues across Virginia.
“Not On My Watch”
In 2015, Melanie’s daughter began Kindergarten in Fairfax County Public Schools. Just two months into the school year, a budget cut to FCPS of up to $75 million was proposed. Melanie’s response: “Not on my watch.”
Melanie began co-leading the #IamFCPS grassroots campaign to fully fund the budget.
That effort was a significant part of reducing what began as a $67.8 million funding shortfall, to just over $15 million (source: Washington Post).
After this advocacy effort, Melanie saw how her experiences as a policy and program professional, parent, and grassroots advocate uniquely prepared her to serve the community on the School Board. Service on the Fairfax County School Board was a natural step for her to promote the strongest education in our community.
- Residents, school board member raise traffic concerns around Reston schools. FFXNow, May 2023.
- Key School Board Candidates to Watch Across Virginia. The Dogwood, 2023.
- Why some families are calling for pedestrian safety upgrades near several Reston schools. WTOP News, 2023.
- ‘Not Happy About it’: Fairfax County School Board Passes Calendar in Contentious Meeting. Northern Virginia Magazine, 2023.
- AP Course Supported By Some Fairfax Board Members As Youngkin Reviews. Vienna Patch, 2023.
- ‘Take a Moment’ – Pedestrian, bike, and safety campaign: Will it be enough? Connection Newspapers, page 3, October 2022.
- Public Records For Fairfax County Public Schools Have Become a Political Battleground. DCist / WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, June 2022.
- After Texas mass shooting, Fairfax County School Board member proposes new security measure. FFX Now, May 2022.
- Security push: Fairfax Co. school board calls for vestibule in every school. WTOP News, May 2022.
- Inside Scoop TV show interview. February 2022.
- Can’t find a COVID test in Virginia? Officials are blaming supply and staffing shortfalls. Virginia Mercury, January 2022.
- Supporting student projects: therapy dogs, and international aid. 2021.
- Quoted on plans for mass vaccine accessibility for students. Washington Post, 2021.
- In Landslide Victory, Meren Wins Hunter Mill District School Board Seat. Reston Now, 2019.
- Video: Melanie Meren Wins Democratic Endorsement for Fairfax County School Board (Hunter Mill District). Blue Virginia, 2019.
- Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee Endorses Meren for School Board. Reston Now. 2019.
- Another Fairfax County School Board Endorsement: Melanie Meren. Blue Virginia, 2019.
- Former Department of Education employee now in the hunt for FCPS school board. Fairfax County Times, 2019 (profile piece).
- Our school children need expanded Enviro Ed. Blue View, 2019.
- TV Interview. Reston Impact, 2019.
- Education Issues Take Center Stage. Fairfax Connection, 2019.
- Fairfax Lawmakers’ Last Call for Input; More than 80 speak at General Assembly public hearing. McLean Connection, 2017.
- Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent unveils $2.67 billion proposed budget. Quote at 2.44 minutes and in written article. Fox5 local news, 2016.
- Local Fairfax campaign rallies for school funding. WJLA ABC7, 2016.