An Unconventional Impact

Summer 2011

If friendliness were a color it’d be a bold and brilliant purple, a pastel and pretty peach. It’d be a humid, sunny D.C morning with a friendly metro driver that puts a smile on your face. It’d be town-hall Tuesday at America’s Promise Alliance and Melinda Hudson’s quirky stories.

Actually, it would probably just be Melinda Hudson.

One of the Alliance’s Five Promises is caring adults and as an intern at the Alliance, Melinda has been a mentor and a representation of how to be a caring adult.

Melinda Hudson is the Executive Vice President of America’s Promise Alliance and acts as a spokesperson, networker and communicator for the Alliance. She has extensive experience on the Hill and is well known for her quirky, yet passionate means of communicating.

My own experience with Melinda began on a vibrant July morning. She personally and energetically gave us driving tour of Ward 7. I couldn’t help but be intrigued as she bluntly explained gentrification, community development and how Ward 7 was hit hard by the war on drugs. From there, she thoroughly explained the Promise Neighborhood Initiative and how the Alliance is involved.

That small moment is just a representation of how seemingly miniscule moments with Melinda have been the most influential. From her I have learned how moral pragmatism can be made into a career and how authenticity can be valued in a business world. She has true engagement and passion with communities and people in general. In my eyes, that is more impressive than exquisite presentation skills or an impressive background.  

Often times we think of people in higher leadership positions as out of touch with reality and managers with a lot of powerful. Melinda is nothing of the sort. As busy as she is, she personally drove the other interns and me to the D.C Promise Neighborhood on the opposite side of D.C. We went and participated in gardening with the Virginia Boys and Girls club at one point and, even more, she drove me to a community dinner for the community organizers in D.C.’s Promise Neighborhood. She spent a lot of time, effort and care to ensure I experienced D.C and had an amazing internship experience. Melinda stands out because she doesn’t just do her job or what she think is right for a community. She gets involved, engages with people, and lets them lead while simultaneously letting her passion and care transcend to every individual who interacts with her.

On the car ride home I asked Melinda what keeps her persistent and determined, to which she answered, “Why not?” At first I thought, “Wow Socrates,” but then I realized how true that statement is. As a young person I often feel polarized while thinking of my future. “There is only so much I can do, so I am going to do this and that and blah blah blah,” or “My impact would be miniscule, because I’m just one person, why am I putting forth all of this effort?” Both of these questions are rooted in a need to feel successful; however, they both illuminate the natural human tendency to want to do good and to want to better the lives of ourselves and those around else.  Melinda brought the intent to surface in saying, “Why not?” She is more than correct. I have my life to live, and wanting to be happy, I know I want to be a community servant. Nothing should hinder that drive and my ambition should only be increasing.

Melinda has truly been a caring adult to me, and has taken time to get to know me and introduce me to various educational and professional opportunities. Professionally, she has taught me how to communicate, be passionate and eccentric and still maintain your respect and prestige in an organization. But most importantly, I have gained an immense respect for America’s Promise Alliance because of how a vice president was so authentic, caring and involved.