Prior to Joining American Rivers, Dr. Mel was Associate Professor and Director of the Ecosystems, Sustainability, and Justice Program and Project Director for the Natural Dye Initiative at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). They also co-founded of The Space for Creative Black Imagination: An Interdisciplinary Research and Making Institute and Chaired the Humanistic Studies Department in their time at MICA. Previously, Dr. Mel served as Director of the transdiciplinary Center for Geographies of Justice and Associate Professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies at Goucher College. Their roles have also included Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California, Interim Executive director of the National Women’s Studies Association, and DEI Consultant/ Collaborator with The Art of Change Agency, supporting critical voices and creative visions for sustainable practice, structural change, and social transformation within organizations, institutions, and communities. Originally from Bayou la Batre, Alabama, their creative work explores queer of color themes in rural coastal settings.
Education: Dr. Mel completed their M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. They hold an M.S. with a Public Policy concentration from Towson University and a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Goucher College. They are currently pursuing an MPP with an emphasis in Environmental Policy.
What is your favorite river? Fowl River and the freshwater wetlands of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to the north and the marine environments of the Gulf of Mexico to the south.