Melissa McKinlay knows how to get things done
Whether it’s helping to bring back millions of dollars for the environment from Tallahassee, leading a statewide effort to protect our youngest children from danger on the roads, or helping to provide a safe haven for victims of domestic violence and rape, her 20-year career in public service has been about putting others first. It’s simply what a mother does.
A former aide in the Florida offices of Sen. Bill Nelson, McKinlay served as Legislative Chair of the statewide Florida Junior League. Her efforts, along with those of others, forced legislative changes in Tallahassee that included mandating child safety seats for kids under 5. At the time, Florida was one of only two states that did not include this precaution in law.
A Florida native, her public service started as an aide in the Florida House of Representatives, and tracked through her time working with Florida Department of Community Affairs and later a county budget office. Following her stint with Sen. Bill Nelson, McKinlay landed a job with the Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs department, traveling regularly to Tallahassee to advocate on behalf of the region.
Successes of that department in Tallahassee include bringing home millions of dollars for environmental restoration projects in the Lake Worth Lagoon, as well large amounts of transportation and economic development dollars for some of the region’s most disadvantaged municipalities. And as if her job and her family weren’t enough to keep her busy, McKinlay has continued to volunteer for the Junior League, as well as serve on the Metropolitan Planning Organization board, the 16-county Coalition for the Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, and the South Florida Fair Board of Trustees.
Advocating for victims of sexual violence has become a passion of Commissioner McKinlay. She is a founding member of the Palm Beach County Sexual Assault Response Team, which received the 2014 Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Sexual Assault Response Team of the Year. She is very proud to have been part of the team that developed The Butterfly House, Palm Beach County’s first sexual assault response medical services center.
Commissioner McKinlay also has been honored with 2006 Child Advocate of the Year Award from the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida, the 2008 Girls Power Award, the 2011 Distinguished Achievement from the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the 2015 Champion for Children award.
Most importantly, McKinlay is mother to three amazing children, two of whom are in the International Baccalaureate programs at their respective high schools and one who is a college freshman.
She volunteers at school events and enjoys watching her son play football on Friday nights.