Commissioner Melissa McKinlay was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2014. Prior to her election, Commissioner McKinlay spent nearly twenty years advocating on behalf of women, children and families as a Legislative aide to the Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs Office, to members of Congress and the US Senate, and as a volunteer with several organizations including the Junior League.
Her public service involves working at all three levels of government, including the office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, the US House & Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, and the Sarasota County Budget Department.
In addition to her public service, Commissioner McKinlay has spent a great deal of her career volunteering for such organizations as the Junior Leagues of Florida where she served as State Chairwoman, the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, ChildNet, Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, Community Health & Planning Network of Palm Beach County, Voices for Children of Palm Beach County, the Village of Wellington Education Advisory Committee, West Palm 100, American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Club, several PTA/PTO and School Advisory Committees, and as a founding member of the Palm Beach County Sexual Assault Response Team.
Currently, Commissioner McKinlay serves on the following boards and committees: Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, 16-County Coalition for Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County Executive Board, the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Mental Health & Substance Abuse in the Courts, the 15th Circuit State Attorney's Sober Home Task Force, Palm Beach County 15th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center Advisory Board, Treasure Coast Local Emergency Planning Council, the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) Board of Directors, FAC Public Safety Policy Committee (Chair), FAC Federal Policy Committee (Vice-Chair), FAC Select Committee on Constitutional Revision, National Association of Counties Agriculture & Rural Affairs Policy Steering Committee (NACo) (Vice-Chair), NACo Rural Action Caucus, NACo NextGen Committee (Board of Directors), NACo Women of NACo, South Florida Fair Board of Trustees, the Glades Career Readiness Roundtable, the Glades Hunger Relief Workgroup (Co-Chair), the Junior League of the Palm Beaches Advocacy Committee and the Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee.
Commissioner McKinlay earned her degree from Florida State University with dual majors in Political Science & Sociology as well as minors in both Economics and Mathematics. She moved to Florida when she was six years old and attended public schools from the time she was in the first grade. Growing up in a house that discussed politics and policy on a daily basis, especially on issues surrounding mental health and social justice, Commissioner McKinlay has spent most of her life as an advocate for others. She currently resides in Royal Palm Beach (FL) with her two of her three children, both of whom attend public schools while the third is a freshman at Florida State University.
Asked what one of her proudest accomplishments has been and Commissioner McKinlay will tell you being part of the team that developed The Butterfly House, Palm Beach County's first sexual assault response medical services center - although helping to pass a successful piece of legislation requiring the posting of the Human Trafficking Hotline across Florida would be a close second!
She has received multiple awards for her advocacy efforts including:
- 2016 Compass Leadership Award (for Social Justice)
- 2016 Florida Association of Counties Presidential Advocate Award
- 2016 City of Pahokee Key to the City
- 2016 Champion of the Glades
- 2015 Inaugural ChildNet Champion for Children Award
- 2015 Florida Association of Counties' Presidential Advocate Award
- 2014 Florida Council Against Sexual Violence SART of the Year (Team Award)
- 2011 Distinguished Achievement from the International Association of Fire Fighters
- 2009 Junior Leagues of Florida Advocacy Award
- 2008 Girls Power Award from the Girls Advocacy Project
- 2006 Child Advocate of the Year Award from the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida
Commissioner McKinlay's priorities remain infrastructure improvements and economic development in the Glades region of her district, affordable housing, addressing the nation's growing opioid/heroin overdose crisis, safe neighborhoods, prevention programs for children, and providing opportunities & environments for families to succeed.