Meladee Evans says that she was raised by a village. She credits the power of community for her success and for teaching her to reach back. “None of us make it on our own,” she says. “I will always feel indebted to those who were part of my childhood and education.”
With an upbringing that cultivated service, Meladee spent her time tutoring other students in K-12, then serving as a mentor throughout college. After graduation, she embarked on a career as a mechanical engineer focused on hardware development for inkjet printers. However, the call to do something with a greater social impact grew and she decided to change careers. She explains, “I love engineering, but at the end of the day, I don't care about printers. I care about people. I needed my work to reflect that.”
Meladee chose to go back to school to get her MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in hopes of applying it towards a social impact purpose. While there, she took an education-focused course that allowed her to complete a strategic project to improve staff retention at a local charter management organization. She spent quality time at the central office and within the schools. That experience was an ‘aha’ moment for Meladee.
Struck by how much enjoyment and fulfillment she received from the work, Meladee recognized that education might be the ideal place to make the social impact she hoped for. She found out about Education Pioneers soon after. It was clear that EP was the right opportunity at the right time.
- Strategy & Planning
During her Fellowship, Meladee was placed at Algiers Charter School Association (ACSA) in New Orleans, where she was tasked with making sure that best practices, policies, procedures and forms were documented and standardized across the ACSA network so that students were guaranteed the same level of quality across the board. She also helped complete strategic projects to improve the delivery of educational excellence to the more than 4,700 students at KIPP New Orleans.
Meladee says that her engineering background and analytical mind allowed her to be successful in her the role at ACSA, where she needed to be attuned to multiple moving parts with a meticulous attention to detail.
As someone new to the education sector, Meladee also benefitted from the EP workshops that provided her with a broader knowledge about the education space and dug into the New Orleans landscape.
Today, Meladee is the Co-Director of Talent Strategy for KIPP New Orleans, a role she recently started after serving as Director of Strategic Initiatives for almost three years. In her current role, she leads development of talent pathways and supports for the KIPP New Orleans staff, as well as new diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.
“My team thinks about how to move people on a KIPP New Orleans career path so that every person understands and believes that they have a future here and sees the value they bring to our students. We also ensure they understand their role and what excellence looks like, while also feeling valued, supported, and developed.”
Supporting eleven schools that serve students who are 100 percent free- and reduced-priced lunch and 95 percent students of color, Meladee has found a profession that fulfills her passion to ensure that “Black and Brown students get access to an equal, quality education so that they are set up for success.”
She says, “The work is hard, but as long as I know my work is making a difference for children, I will be here doing it.”