Melissa is the daughter to Mexican parents who came to California in hopes of a better future for their family. She is a native of San Joaquin county, proudly born and raised in the 209 (Stockton, CA).
The second oldest in a family with six children, she considers herself a “second mom” spending a lot of time supporting her siblings. Her love for her brothers and sisters shaped her decision to study psychology — specifically in the subject of Child and Adolescent Development. She is the first in her family to graduate college and received her B.A. from Sacramento State in 2020.
At the James B. McClatchy Foundation, she supports our CEO, Priscilla, and serves as liaison and staff support for the foundation’s Board of Directors, Chair and Vice Chair. Prior to JBMF, Melissa managed the office of a public relations firm based in the Sacramento region.
She understands the importance of organization support with her past work in office administration and looks forward to serving the Central Valley in her new role in the philanthropy field.
Coming from a big family living on a single income household, I understand first-hand the struggles that immigrants face when they come to America. My father supported us with physical labor, doing construction and masonry work while my mother was a homemaker.
Living and growing up in Stockton — which has a reputation of being a rough part of California — I saw the hardships that family and friends faced. Violence and poverty shaped the community, but the resilience and strength of the people still shines through in spite of it’s under-resourced environment.
We took pride in not what we didn’t have, but in what we did. It is probably why I am so close to my family. Our bond is forged through the time we shared with each other, in our everyday moments and memories that shaped my whole life — not in the possessions we owned.
My transition into philanthropy is because I want to be part of positive change in the community. Being a proud Stocktonian, I have direct understanding of what hardship looks like in the Central Valley and hope to use my lived experience to help foster change for all.
I enjoy playing sports and being physically active. I was a soccer athlete in high school and still enjoy being on the field, though not as often as I used to.
I also enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. One of my fondest memories is an overnight backpacking trip hiking with my class up to Clouds Rest. It rained, we were soaking wet, but we made it to the top — and that view of Yosemite Valley high above the clouds is something I will never forget. That memory solidified my love for nature.
On the opposite side of fitness is my thirst for knowledge. I take pleasure in learning about anything and everything, but especially about psychology. I once had a conversation about coffee and how withdrawals are a low-key sign of addiction. My roommate wasn’t too thrilled to learn that from me, but it did encourage her to cut back on caffeine!
At the center of my life are family, food and nature, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.