Melanie Jacobi Rhodes is a native of Pensacola, FL and graduated from Stetson University, in 2004 with a B.A. in sociology and Spanish.  While in school, she was the captain of the rowing team, volunteered with the local Farmworkers Association helping recent immigrants prepare taxes, and spent semesters abroad in Madrid, Spain and Guanajuato, Mexico.  She received a Master of Public Administration in Public and Non-Profit Administration and Policy from New York University in 2011 after completing a capstone consulting project on volunteer management with Women’s World Banking.

Prior to her work with Impact America, Melanie worked with Habitat for Humanity, developing and implementing systems to recruit, train, recognize, and evaluate over 4,000 volunteers each year.  She has managed Habitat’s volunteer programs in both Pensacola and Birmingham.  Melanie is passionate about the role of education in breaking the cycle of poverty and has served as a classroom teacher, after school program director, and in educational non-profit leadership roles.  She served as a Teach for America Corps Member in Houston, TX and was honored to be selected as “Teacher of the Year” as a second year teacher.

What do you like to do for fun?
I am always looking to plan a new adventure, whether a local weekend hike or my next international trip.  I love spending the day at the beach, hiking, or working on home renovation projects with my husband…which is always in adventure!

What was your most meaningful service experience and why?
Through my work with Habitat for Humanity I was fortunate to be able to lead annual trips returning the same community in Sololá, Guatemala for several years.  We helped with new home construction and installation of vented wood burning stoves to improve quality of life within the home.  It was hard to imagine that a handful of volunteers could make such a big impact with a little bit of time and money.  Even more important were the lifelong friendships that developed between cultures as a result of these trips.
Name and describe a memorable place you’ve been.
I once had the opportunity to spend time hiking in the Andes in Ecuador.  We stayed in a hostel and fell asleep listening to alpaca munching on grass outside our room each night.  Every morning we woke up to see the sun rise over the mountaintops.  The view was breathtaking and the feeling of how small we are in the world left a lifelong impression on me.