As a lifelong resident of Arkansas, Melissa believes our state deserves better—that the priorities of our legislature are heading in the wrong direction and the time to return the focus to our citizens and their families is now.
Melissa was born in Little Rock to a middle-class family. Her father was a steel worker and a deacon of their family church while her mother worked in an accounting office and a florist. They both served as the church’s youth directors.
Melissa, her sister, and her two brothers, who are both retired police officers, were educated in the Little Rock Public School District. Melissa was a graduate of Little Rock Central High School and served as the state secretary for the Distributive Education Clubs of America during her junior and senior years. Discouraged by the millions of dollars being diverted from the state’s education budget, Melissa wants to ensure all of our children have the opportunity to participate in pre-K programs and that our graduates are adequately prepared to enter the workforce either through a college education or vocational training.
While raising her two children and several “adopted” children, Melissa housed five exchange students and served as the liaison for the American Field Services. Her compassion towards the community’s youth and her “open door policy” are the product of her grandmother, a selfless woman who spent her entire life giving to those who had less than her.
When Melissa isn’t spending time with her five grandchildren, she owns and operates a small dairy goat farm. She is engaged in her community and often volunteers time shuttling her goats to nursing homes, schools, and various community events.
For the last seven years, Melissa has actively championed for the medical cannabis initiative, believing that patients and their doctors should be able to make decisions about appropriate and alternative treatments. In 2016, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment was passed and Melissa spent the biggest part of the 2017 legislative session testifying in committees fighting for good legislation to protect patients and prevent unnecessary limitations on the program. Today, she continues to work to further the cannabis program in Arkansas to insure that patients have safe, legal and affordable access to a much needed medicine.
Melissa and her husband Gary, a retired locomotive engineer and woodwork director and instructor at the Arkansas Arts Center‘s Museum School, have proudly called East End their home for the last 30 years.