Executive Director Chris Dame is pleased to announce the appointment of Marisa Melendez as the new program director of the Community Service Center. Mr. Dame stated: “Marisa is the right choice for this position because she is involved in the community and has years of experience in similar social services positions. She both understands and is committed to our mission of service”.
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Marisa who was born and raised in Lawrence. Since she was 12 years old, she has volunteered with her siblings for projects in Lawrence begun by her mother, Isabel Melendez, a retiring Program Director at GLCAC. After taking classes at Northeastern University, Marisa managed a site for the Lawrence Housing Authority, then worked as a community organizer for Lawrence Community Partnership.
After moving to Florida, Marisa worked for a few months at the Del Ray Housing Authority managing a site. She then went to work for the now defunct NIA Group as a supervisor of eight caseworkers working with clients on employment skill training. After her husband suffered a stroke, Marisa accepted a position closer to home for the Broward County School Board, first as a Community Liaison, and then as an Office Manager for two family counseling sites.
Returning to Lawrence in 2010, Marisa was hired by Lighthouse Senior Care. Lynne Brown-Zounes, who was to be the operations director for the site in Lawrence that did not open, was quoted in the Eagle Tribune saying Marisa “worked on the start-up from May 2010 to November 2011, when her duties included recruitment and marketing,” and that Marisa would have managed the program should it have opened. Brown-Zounes goes on to say that Marisa is, “a great people-person. She’s compassionate, caring, loving. She has great work skills, great work ethics. I’d hire her tomorrow in a minute.”
Since leaving Lighthouse, Marisa returned to GLCAC as a full-time volunteer. In addition, Marisa is an active board member and coach with the Roberto Clemente League, and a board member of Hispanic Week in Lawrence, an annual festival promoting Latin culture.
After receiving the position at GLCAC Inc., Marisa said she is looking forward to the opportunity. “I have great compassion for the people who come to the center needing information to resolve a problem and help them accomplish their goals. This is what drove me to volunteer here as a teenager, when I came back from Florida for visits, and today. It is an honor to carry forward the hard work done by so many people here, including my mother. But I know I will have to work extra hard everyday to prove myself. We have a lot of work to do, and I believe we can be even more effective as we modernize the program”.
Mr. Dame stated that he used a competitive hiring process. After an initial vetting of eight candidates, it came down to two highly qualified finalists interviewed by a four member team. After making the decision to hire Marisa as the next Program Director for the Community Services Center, Mr. Dame said, “As an independent, interim executive director, I selected the best candidate for the job. In this agency, under my leadership, qualifications are what matter, and family connections will neither help nor hinder someone’s ability to pursue a position for which they have the requisite skills and experience”.
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