Q&A with Kim Melton, the Portland Metro Director+Share
After seven years as an education and political reporter at The Oregonian Newspaper, Kim Melton joined the Stand team in 2011. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in African American Studies and completed an M.A. in Journalism from University of California, Berkeley. Let’s find out more about Kim and her new role as Metro Director. When she’s not working, Kim loves to sing, is active at her church and is a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
- What does a Metro Director do?
I oversee our community organizing and advocacy efforts in and around Portland and East County and provide leadership on policy research and building partnerships. I’m really passionate about what we can accomplish for kids when we focus on engaging and empowering families and build strong coalitions across organizations and diverse communities.
- What motivates you to do this work and come to work each day?
I grew up mostly living with my Dad in Missouri but in the summers, I would stay with my grandparents in Ohio for a few months. You might think it was time to break all the rules and get wild. No ma’am. My grandmother and her friends were all school teachers. They ran a tight ship. And as August came around, I would go to their schools and help them set up their classrooms. And when we went to the stores where she bought supplies out of her own pocket, we would sometimes run into kids and parents who would run, I mean run, to my grandma to give her a hug and talk about how inspiring she was and how her high expectations helped the kids stay focused and grow. I really believe every child and parent should have relationships like that with teachers because it’s their work together that changes things for kids.
- If you could have lunch with someone, past or present, who would it be?
Phebe Boggess. Most folks probably don’t know who Phebe Boggess is. But she’s really special to me. Phebe is my grandmother’s great grandmother. She grew up enslaved on a West Virginia plantation with her seven kids. She sent a couple of her oldest sons on to freedom through the Underground Railroad. And when the plantation owner passed away in the late 1840’s and the courts attempted to give the land and Phebe and her family to a relative, Phebe responded by going to court herself to fight for her family’s freedom. I’d love to sit down with her and find out how she found the courage, passion and faith to take a stand and I wish I could thank her face to face. Her bravery is why I’m here today.
- What's your favorite education movie?
Lean on Me, hands down, no doubt about it. I think I’ve seen it a dozen times at minimum. In college, I had to write a paper about social protest and I used this as an example of how movements spread and transformation can take place in communities.
- What quote inspires you?
I couldn’t choose just one. These are three of my favorites. Each one of these has at one point been scribbled on a post card and taped to my computer screen.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” --Harriet Tubman
“Courage allows the successful woman to fail -- and learn powerful lessons from the failure -- so that in the end, she didn't fail at all.” --Maya Angelou
“We desire to bequest two things to our children -- the first one is roots; the other one is wings.” --Sudanese Proverb
- What's your favorite book?
I love books. It’s difficult to choose a favorite. About five years ago, a few friends and I started a book club and since then we’ve been reading amazing books that take us all over the world. If I had to choose I’d start with A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.