Melody Moody Thortis
Director of Strategic Impact
She draws on her extensive background in community organizing, facilitation and asset mapping in her work as CFM’s Director of Strategic Impact, where she manages its programs and uses data-driven techniques and community input to measure, evaluate, visualize and inform the foundation’s grantmaking and outreach strategies to make the greatest possible impact.Prior to coming to CFM, Melody served as the Director of Grants and Arts-Based Community Development at the Mississippi Arts Commission where she oversaw the distribution of over 4.2 million dollars in grants to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. While there, she managed the agency’s creative placemaking work, statewide convenings and implemented new strategies for reaching under-resourced communities. Melody also served for 12 years as the Executive Director of Bike Walk Mississippi, where she increased Mississippi’s national ranking from #47 to #32 as a bicycle-friendly state, and successfully lobbied Congress to increase its support of biking and walking in the Federal Transportation bill and taught over 100 civic engagement and community visioning workshops across the state.
A native of Kingsport, TN, Melody moved to Mississippi in the late 90’s to attend Belhaven University and has since made the magnolia state her forever home. In 2009, she earned her master’s degree in international development, advocacy and human rights from Eastern University’s campus in Cape Town, South Africa. Melody served as a 2015 Fellow with America Walks, focused on building safe, equitable and accessible public spaces and in 2019, completed a post-graduate certificate of Creative Placemaking from the National Consortium of Creative Placemaking and the Institute of Art and Design at New England College.
Melody enjoys spending as much time as possible with her young son and husband and in her “spare time” can be found in her painting studio, playing clawhammer banjo, or volunteering as an advocate for bicycle safety, accessibility, and the arts.
“One of my greatest joys in life is facilitating and collaborating with groups to help them create their own plans to move forward the change they want to see in their community. I believe that the Community Foundation for Mississippi is in a unique position to listen and respond to locally-driven needs, to be a unifier of collective community ideas and to serve as a connector between philanthropic partners, private donors and the nonprofits and institutions working to move the needle for long-term change in Mississippi.”