Meet Melanie

My husband Jim and I bought our first home fifteen years ago in 2004. Immediately after I moved here, I jumped into getting involved in my community to gain a better understanding of how local government works.

Ferndale voters elected me to three terms to serve on the city council (2009, 2013, 2107). I’m deeply knowledgeable about how this city operates and how to responsibly manage the budget.

Before even thinking about running for council, I volunteered at the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority for five years, serving as Chair of the Business Development Committee and as a member of the Organization Committee. It was an honor to be a recipient of the 2007 DDA Volunteer of the Year Award.

Former Mayor Bob Porter appointed me to the Zoning Board of Appeals where I also served for five years.

I left the automotive industry in 2004  to transition into urban planning. For 15 years, I’ve worked for nonprofits with social impact missions specific to Metro Detroit, building strong communities and fostering economic inclusion.

I’ve worked with community leaders in over 30 Metro Detroit communities. I currently serve as the Chief Operating Officer at Jefferson East, Inc., a neighborhood nonprofit taking a progressive approach to inclusive neighborhood growth in Detroit. I also worked at the Downtown Detroit Partnership and the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, a progressive start-up nonprofit that focused on regionalism and intergovernmental collaboration.

My educational background includes a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Albion College. I’m a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). In 2018, I was the recipient of the prestigious SEMCOG Taubman Fellow scholarship to Harvard Kennedy School Executive Leadership in Local and State Government.

Jim and I like to bike, travel and occasionally dress up like Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and have adventures in Ferndale.

Learn more about me by clicking here!

I have served locally in these capacities:

City of Ferndale

Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission
Ferndale Inclusion Network
Ferndale Community Foundation, Board of Directors
Planning Commission
Brownfield Redevelopment Authority
Zoning Board of Appeals
Downtown Development Authority, Business Development, Chair (former)
Woodward Avenue Alternative Analysis Task Force
SEMCOG City Representative

Regional & Statewide

Michigan Municipal League, President, Board of Trustees
Michigan Municipal League Education Foundation, Board Member
SEMCOG 2018 Taubman Fellowship to attend the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Leadership Training for State and Local Government.
Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Citizens Advisory Committee, former member
Urban Institute, Southeast Michigan Housing Futures Project
SEMCOG Pedestrian and Bicycling, Task Force Member
SEMCOG Access to Core Services in Southeast Michigan, Task Force Member
SEMCOG Redeveloping Commercial and Industrial Corridors, Task Force Member
Oakland County Transportation Business Roundtable, County Executive Appointee

Melanie Piana