Originally from rural Menifee, California, Melissa lost her father to melanoma skin cancer at an early age. Through perseverance and hard work, she overcame, going on to be one of the first in her family to graduate from college. One of six kids, Melissa earned academic honors while balancing extracurricular activities and working two part-time jobs.
Melissa worked as a zoning technician in planning and land use for the County of San Diego while earning her bachelor’s from San Diego State University. After college, Melissa earned a paralegal certificate in business and environmental law at the University of San Diego. She worked in law before seizing an opportunity to relocate to Las Vegas in 2005 to manage parks and recreation planning and capital improvements for the City of Las Vegas. From 2005 to 2010, Melissa was instrumental in acquiring millions of dollars in federal funding to construct new parks and trails and renovate older parks such as Gary Reese Freedom Park and Justice Myron E. Leavitt and Jaycee Community Park. While working for the City of Las Vegas, Melissa received her master’s in public administration from UNLV. An active member of the American Society for Public Administration, she continues to serve as a mentor for UNLV students working toward their MPA. As a cheerleader throughout school, she enthusiastically coached youth cheerleading for two seasons as a volunteer for Southern Nevada Pop Warner.
In 2010, Melissa worked for the United States Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C., where she gained significant federal experience preparing agency budgets, responding to Congressional inquiries, and managing government contracts. She returned to Nevada in 2011 to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A certified Project Management Professional, Melissa is proud to serve America’s veterans by managing high-profile construction projects in IT infrastructure for hospitals and clinics. Through her revival of the once-stagnant Huntridge Neighborhood Association in 2011, grants authorship, and sponsorship initiatives, she has become more than a helping hand to those in need. She has used her knowledge of municipal procedures and her nonprofit and business networks to the benefit of her neighbors and the Las Vegas community writ large.
Active at both a local and state level, Melissa was appointed to the Mining Oversight and Accountability Commission for the State of Nevada by Governor Brian Sandoval and reappointed by Governor Steve Sisolak. She served as Chair for the Mesquite Club, the state’s longest running women’s philanthropic organization, and was a board member for Emerge Nevada, dedicated to training women to run for political office. She served as a Community Advocate for the Southern Nevada Homelessness Continuum of Care board for several years, intent on reducing homelessness in the Valley, and co-founded the nonprofit The Huntridge Foundation, to preserve the architectural integrity, history, and culture of the Huntridge Theatre. She also is proud of her Foundation efforts with former Assemblywoman Heidi Swank and Assemblyman Elliot Anderson to pass Assembly Bill 371, establishing Restore Nevada’s Treasures, a fund designed to help preserve and rehabilitate endangered historic buildings across the state. In 2020, she founded the nonprofit Friends of Gem Theater to restore and reopen a 1937 movie theater in rural Nevada.
Melissa enjoys fixing up her 1951 Huntridge Neighborhood home and spending time with her partner, friends, family, and her dogs. When Melissa is not working or volunteering, she enjoys traveling, trail running, and hiking in the scenic desert.