Having been raised bi-nationally on the border of Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Mexico, Melissa Dye brings a unique perspective to bridging people, communities, and relationships. She has brought this perspective to her many projects, including co-founding the Connections Project (Conexiones), founding the Education Unidos Scholarship Fund and Education Unidos Internship Program, as well as hosting and co-producing the weekly Binational Education Section Show for Manantial Radio.
In addition to her drive to promote education, Melissa has dedicated her career to promoting inclusion - from leading inclusion practices for HIV/Aids patients to advocating for diversity and inclusion initiatives in her many HR/Operations roles. Her hard work promoting education and inclusion was recently recognized when she was honored with the "OHTLI" Award from the Mexico Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, the highest honor given to citizens living outside of Mexico that recognizes individuals who have aided, empowered, or positively affected the lives of Mexican nationals in the United States and other countries.
"As more women take leadership positions in social, political, and business roles their impact is that of transformative change. Women leaders paint the future because we take care of others and show our younger generations to strive to break down barriers. We wear many hats and are involved in various initiatives that play an important role in the development, health, and welfare of communities. Women are powerful agents of change."
For the past two years, Melissa has been using her talents as the Senior Director of Business Development for the American Heart Association. She finds inspiration in the mission of the organization to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Melissa applies that same relentlessness to everything she does, and she is honored to have the opportunity to work with other people and donors that are just as relentless in how they give back to our community.
This month the American Heart Association is gearing up for their annual Go Red for Women luncheon, focused on preventing heart disease and stroke, sharing stories of people impacted by cardiovascular disease and raising critically needed funds to save more lives. Since 2004, the Go Red for Women movement has educated millions of women as to their No. 1 health threat: cardiovascular disease.
Many women have had a lasting, positive impact on Melissa’s life and who she is today - she fondly refers to them as her courageous scholars - and none more so than her great grandmother. She encouraged Melissa at a very young age to test boundaries and take risks. Her great grandmother empowered her voice and prompted her to take action. All of this has helped Melissa build strong relationships with her mentees, offering genuine advice and getting them on track to their success.
Melissa advises other women to be genuine and authentic when pursuing leadership roles, "Authenticity is irresistible! Show up in everything you do as the fullest version of yourself regardless of the setting." One of Melissa’s favorite leadership quotes comes from Maya Angelou, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t’ make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
It's clear that Melissa pursues everything she does with passion, authenticity, and relentlessness to empower change. While she is a self-described optimist, she isn't as optimistic about the current state of the gender gap in STEM roles and the glass ceiling women continue to encounter, "Our workforce is becoming increasingly diverse and as organizations are introducing diversity and inclusion in their corporate strategies, they must be mindful and address the glass ceiling that still exists and for women of color, such as myself, that ceiling is made from concrete....We must understand that as human beings we gravitate towards role models that seem to be like us, so if someone that looks like us can achieve their dreams then that gives us the motivation we need to do the same."
Thank you, Melissa, for your relentless pursuit to empower, educate, and #BreakTheBias for so many women and minorities throughout the international community!