Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2014 and reelected without opposition in 2018. 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. She served as Mayor of Palm Beach County from 2017-2018.
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 Transportation Planning Agency, Palm Beach County Business Development Board Executive Committee, 16-County Coalition for Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, the 15th Circuit State Attorney's Sober Home Task Force, Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, Water Resources Task Force, Treasure Coast Local Emergency Planning Council, the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) 1st Vice President, the National Association of Counties (NACo) Board of Directors, NACo Agriculture & Rural Affairs Policy Steering Committee (Chair), NACo Rural Action Caucus, NACo NextGen Committee (Board of Directors), NACo Women of NACo Immediate Past President, South Florida Fair Board of Trustees, the Glades Career Readiness Roundtable, the Glades Hunger Relief Workgroup (Co-Chair), PalmsWest Hospital Board of Trustees, 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 Florida 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 Wellington (FL) with her youngest daughter, who attends Forest Hill Community High School, while her two older children are students at Florida State University, one a freshman and the other a junior.
Asked what one of her proudest accomplishments has been besides her kids, 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 aimed at eliminating human trafficking would be a close second!
Commissioner McKinlay recently completed the prestigious Governing Magazine's Women in Government Leadership Institute, an annual program for the nation's Top 25 State & Local Elected Women, and she is currently participating in Leadership Florida.
She has received multiple awards for her advocacy efforts including:
- Palm Beach County Medical Society 2018 Heroes in Medicine Award
- Pahokee Rotary Club Community Service Award, 2018
- Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition 2017 Community Leader of the Year Award
- Florida Association of Counties Marlene Young Presidential Award for Outstanding Advocacy, 2017
- Florida Association of Counties Presidential Advocacy Award: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015
- Florida Association of Counties Certified County Commissioner Program Graduate, 2017
- 2016 Compass Leadership Award (for Social Justice)
- 2016 City of Pahokee Key to the City
- 2016 Champion of the Glades
- 2015 Inaugural ChildNet Champion for Children 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 opioid/heroin overdose crisis, human trafficking, safe neighborhoods, prevention programs for children, and providing opportunities & environments for families to succeed.