Melody Porter

Melody Porter
  • Associate Director Office of Community Engagement

About Melody Porter

Hello blogosphere! While I am a relative newcomer to you, I am a long-time fan of connecting with people in all kinds of settings. I used to say that my major in college (above my actual political science & religion double major) was in friendships. Conversations over long meals or late nights on dorm hallway floors have been transformative in my life, and it only makes sense to me to dip my toe into new ways of opening up conversation here.

Some details about my life and role at W&M: I came to William and Mary in August 2008, and am the Associate Director in the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship. I spend my time fostering student leadership in the broad areas of alternative breaks and local anti-poverty initiatives. Doing so lets me fulfill what I understand my calling to be about: working for social justice in the world, and equipping others to do so with skill, sensitivity and great love. Some programs I oversee specifically include Branch Out Alternative Breaks (35 trips each year!), Project Phoenix, local large-scale events, the W&M-Petersburg Partnership, Campus Kitchen at William & Mary, Community Engagement Grants, and other fun things that pop up here and there.

And my pre-W&M life. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from Emory University in 1995. After graduating, I decided to get further into the world of community development and service. I served as a long-term volunteer for three years, beginning a job development program in Philadelphia and working with preschool children in Johannesburg, South Africa. I came back to Emory to earn a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology in 2001, with a focus in religious education. I spent a frenetic and exciting year working four jobs – from TA’ing a preaching class with Tom Long, to catering barbecue, to managing a nonprofit family literacy program with immigrant and refugee families. I went on from there to be Associate Minister at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, working in areas of social justice and community development,
and directing an after school program that served more than 100 high school students. Finally, it was one more stop at Emory – where I served for three years as director of Volunteer Emory, a student-led department for community service.

Through all of my professional and volunteer experiences, and life in general, I have seen how connected and interdependent people and communities are everywhere I believe in the power of mutual service to transform lives and create social change.

I also love cheese fries.

Posts by Melody Porter

Face to Face

We in Branch Out alternative breaks have been thick in a season of recruitment this fall, already. If you follow any of our leadership

Setting My Own Pace

I’ve just returned from two weeks of wide sky, expansive ocean, and open time. My college friend, Saralyn, and I, walked the Camino de

Don’t Let Financial Concerns Stop You

While discussing my work with some friends over dinner last night, one of them asked the first question that often comes to mind when

What do people do for you?

From this week’s volunteer listserv: Fifteen years ago, I met some good friends through my graduate program. They visited me this weekend from their

Creating a Community

Branch Out held a Homecoming reception this weekend to welcome back alumni who participated in alternative breaks while they were here.  It was quite

More than the sum

I was recently invited to share some remarks at the volunteer appreciation event at WindsorMeade, and wanted to pass them along to you, cyber

Privilege at the Dinner Table

Thanks to the initiative of my colleague Elizabeth Miller, some of us in the Office of Community Engagement – and others across campus –

Stand-Up Paddle Lessons

Last week, I achieved a goal that has been nagging at my to-do list since I first saw a figure gliding down the James

From Women to Women

This fall, a grassroots committee of women staff, faculty and students are kicking off a pilot project we’re calling WM2: William and Mary Women’s