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Xavier Magazine | April 27, 2017

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Profile: Melissa Currence

Profile: Melissa Currence
By France Griggs Sloat

Melissa Currence

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

2001 Interactive Media Project Manager, Greater Cincinnati Foundation;

President, League of Women Voters Cincinnati

Club Day | Her first month at Xavier, Currence went to Club Day on the Mall and stopped at the League of Women Voters table. As a political science major, she was interested in learning about the political process. They invited her to the monthly unit meetings, and she went—every month.

A Good Fit | “Campaigns are so focused on attacking each other, but the League was part of the political process without being part of that negativity. I would rather work toward something positive that empowers voters than be part of just saying you’re wrong.”

Her Other Job | Currence was asked to join the board after she graduated. She also managed the voter service election guides for four years and in 2009 was appointed to the state board. In 2010, at age 30, she was elected president of the Cincinnati League on the 90th anniversary of its founding.

Madame President | “I was really interested in giving it a try. The League has been around for 92 years, and Cincinnati is one of the oldest Leagues in the U.S. and the largest in Ohio. I want to do the League justice as its president.”

Big Gains | Currence focused on making the League more relevant to younger Cincinnatians by improving its online acessibility. As she wraps up her two-year term in May, she thinks about all she’s gained. “The League trusted me and gave me so much. It’s been my leadership training.”

Service To Others | Currence fed her interest in government in other ways, too—with a student internship with Sen. George Voinovich and an unpaid internship doing public relations for the Race Street Tenant Organization Cooperative (RESTOC), a low-income housing provider in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Summer In The City | That led to a full-time job after graduation with RESTOC as a tenant organizer. She also wrote press releases and a newsletter, capitalizing on other communications work she’d done, including for the Xavier Newswire.

Hot Town | “The day I interviewed for that job was the day the civil unrest started after the Timothy Thomas shooting. I’d lived in Over-the-Rhine the year before, and it was heartbreaking, but I was really excited to see what I could do to help. It’s why I chose to take the job.”

Change of Plans | She left RESTOC in 2003 for a master’s in journalism at Ohio State University, which led to a job at Talbert House, a nonprofit social service agency where she was a public relations specialist for six years. Last year, she was hired by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation as the interactive media project manager. “I got that foundation from Xavier about servant leadership, and that’s why I’m driven to work for nonprofits because I think they can really make a difference.”

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