Meet Melanie

Hi! I’m Melanie. I’m glad you are here to learn more about my leadership and commitment to Ferndale, what I value and believe, and how I represent you and our neighbors and residents.

Melanie’s Background

I have lived in Ferndale for 14 years with my husband, Jim, and our cat, Doops. Exploring different places and cultures is one of my hobbies. For nearly two decades, Jim and I have grown our love together biking the streets of Ferndale and Detroit, taking day hike trips on challenging paths and traveling to hard-to-reach places such as the countryside of Bangladesh and Bhutan and the hidden gems of the Amazon in Brazil. I believe getting to know those who are different from ourselves makes us more compassionate humans.

I found my calling in creating more livable places in 2003. Suddenly a young twenty something, unemployed from the decline in the automotive industry and the early 2000 tech bubble, I yearned for a more fulfilling career. My best friend lent me a book on why urban sprawl and unchecked development created uninviting places for people. She then moved to Chicago because Detroit had no reliable public transit system.

Shortly thereafter, I enrolled in Wayne State University where I obtained a Masters Degree in Urban Planning.  With a bachelor’s degree in German and Communications from Albion College and a certified Project Management Professional, I have applied my expertise to serve urban communities. I have never looked back.

A Respected Ambassador to Our Community

Melanie loves cities. She is an experienced urban policy and community development professional with expertise in nonprofit management and local government. Her expertise is in urban policy,  local government, and nonprofit management and her preparedness, determination and dedication to serving Ferndale residents and businesses.  

She is currently serving her second term on Ferndale City Council (2009-2017) as Mayor Pro Tem, appointed by her fellow city council members. She also serves our community on the Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission (FESC), as the city’s council liaison to the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and on MML’s Board of Trustees and the Trustee representative to the Michigan Municipal Foundation board of directors.

Throughout her tenure on city council, she has served on the Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commission, Downtown Development Authority Business Development Committee, city council representative to Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and various Task Forces, a member of the Citizens Advisory Council to the Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Agency, and former advisory board member of Data Driven Detroit.

A Respected Regional Leader

Melanie is a community leader in Ferndale and a bridge maker in Detroit and surrounding Metro Detroit communities.

She has in-depth experience working with over 30 Metro Detroit communities, building relationships with city managers, mayors and city council members.  As the Deputy Director at a Ferndale start-up nonprofit called Metro Matters (formerly Michigan Suburbs Alliance), she worked to bridge the divide between inner-ring suburbs and the City of Detroit. During this tenure, she has advocated on pressing regional policy issues such as transportation, mobility, regionalism, development, and a focus on government innovation and transformation.

In her profession, Melanie incubated and launched Redevelopment Ready Communities(RRC), a program that measures and then certifies communities that integrate transparency, predictability and efficiency into their daily development practices. She evaluated and provided recommendations on how inner-ring suburbs can become more business-friendly, including Ferndale before she was elected. RRC is now a statewide program administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation through the state of Michigan.

Melanie worked as an Engagement Strategist at Downtown Detroit Partnership supporting exciting new projects to help grow Downtown Detroit.  She supported small storefront retailers during Qline construction and helped launched the Downtown Detroit Business Improvement Zone during bankruptcy.

She is currently the Deputy Director at Jefferson East, Inc., a placed-based, economic development nonprofit that takes care of 18.4 square miles of Detroit’s east side.