Melody Porter

Melody Porter
  • Director, Office of Community Engagement

About Melody Porter

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 I spend my time fostering student leadership in alternative breaks, developing strong community partnerships so we can help meet shared goals, and moving community engagement efforts at the College forward. 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.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from Emory University, 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. I managed a nonprofit family literacy program with immigrant and refugee families, and 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. I returned to Emory to serve for three years as director of Volunteer Emory, a student-led department for community service. In 2015, a book that I co-authored with Shoshanna Sumka and Jill Piacitelli, was published - Working Side by Side: Creating Alternative Breaks as Catalysts for Global Learning, Student Leadership, and Social Change.

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.

Posts by Melody Porter

Seeing the Good in Our Mistakes

Every once in a while on this campus known for high achievers, I overhear or take part in conversations that are totally counter-cultural. People

Summer Fun in Our Community

Summer days in Williamsburg stretch out long. The long light, slower pace, and enveloping humidity make summer a unique time to be in Williamsburg,

What We’ve Learned

The close of another academic year offers so much time for last-coffees, last-walks-around-the-Sunken-Garden, and last reflections with the students with whom I’ve had the

In Solidarity with You

So many times when people talk about “community engagement,” we mean that community – the one off campus. The one made up of the

From the Sides

A friend who is involved in the local food movement recently loaned me a book that has encouraged and inspired her work: Take this

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