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 nearly 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 education. 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. Melanie’s current community service commitments are: appointed member of the Fairfax County School Board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee; elementary school PTA Green Team Chair and school representative to the Fairfax County Council of PTAs; Girl Scout Brownie troop co-leader; and 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 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 of up to $75 million was announced for FCPS. Melanie’s response: “Not on my watch.”
That effort is credited with securing $60 million of the proposed cuts – resulting in educator pay increases and measures to help address growing class sizes.
More work remains to be done. With Melanie’s son having entered Kindergarten in Fall 2018, she continues to be motivated to build better schools for him and all the children, educators, and residents relying on FCPS.
As a policy and program professional, parent, and grassroots advocate, Melanie believes that she now must work inside the system. Earning a seat on the Fairfax County School Board is a natural step for her to promote the strongest education in our community.
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