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 was an independent communications consultant at MKM Strategies for nearly 10 years, working on local, statewide, and national efforts to improve and enhance 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. Today, she is the Communications Director at a national nonprofit focused on engaging K-8 students in hands-on science experiences, to inspire careers in the STEM workforce.
Advocacy and community are at the core of her life. Joined by her husband, Drew Meren, the two are active in local government in the Town of Vienna and Fairfax County. Melanie’s community service commitments include: member of the Virginia Association for Environmental Education; Leadership Team of NoVA Outside; appointed member of the School Board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee; Wolftrap Elementary PTA Green Team Chair; and Girl Scout Brownie troop co-leader. Melanie is in the 2018 class at the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program.
“Not On My Watch”
In 2015, their daughter began Kindergarten at Wolftrap Elementary School in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). 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 entering Kindergarten in Fall 2018, she is 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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