Meet Melanie

Melanie’s career is focused on creating effective work systems and clear, strategic communications that benefit children, communities, and the environment.

Melanie is passionate about supporting meaningful learning experiences for children. Her education policy and program experience spans early childhood, K-12, and higher education. She is an advocate for connecting kids with nature and using environmental education to foster learning and address challenges, help children grow socially and emotionally, achieve academic excellence, navigate group dynamics, and express leadership to solve environmental and sustainability challenges.

She believes that every school and all school systems can offer children content-rich, real-world relevant, facilitated learning that truly empowers and educates our children to survive and thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Melanie believes it can be done through systems change.

melanie meren and camera crew
big journeys begin with small steps

Her career began at the US Department of Education at the dawn of No Child Left Behind, in 2002. Working on early literacy programs and Title I programs for underserved students, she saw in states and nationwide that systemic improvements were needed in American education.

She went on to work at a Washington, DC-based consulting group focused on public education reform through community engagement. Here she honed skills in project management, business management, customer service, marketing and communications, and strategic counseling. Melanie founded MKM Strategies in 2009 to craft her signature approach to education reform and advocacy. Her Masters in Public Policy from Duke is an undercurrent of it all.

Melanie is an avid grassroots leader in Fairfax, Virginia, where she has lived since 2005. Serving on the leadership team of NoVA Outside, she helped educators bring learning outdoors and elevate the role of environmental stewardship in classrooms. She helped implement the School Environmental Action Showcase for hundreds of Northern Virginia students annually to highlight whole school sustainability and careers in the green economy.

Since 2015, Melanie has advocated for the Fairfax County Public Schools budget. Her work with the #IamFCPS grassroots campaign is credited with recouping $60 million from a proposed $75 million cut, resulting in educator pay increases and measures to address growing class sizes. This experience showed Melanie that to make necessary changes in the budget process, she needed to be in a leadership position. Since January 2020, Melanie serves on the Fairfax County School Board, representing about 190,000 constituents in the Hunter Mill district.

Melanie’s calling card is a relentless pursuit of goals, and a passion for building networks to accelerate success.




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