Palm Beach County Melissa McKinlay was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2014, served as Mayor in 2017/2018 and was reelected in 2018 without opposition. 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, Palm Beach County, and Sarasota County.
In addition to her public service, Commissioner McKinlay has spent a great deal of her time 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, Voices for Children of Palm Beach County, the 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: the Children’s Services Council, 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, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center Advisory Board, Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, Treasure Coast Local Emergency Planning Council, South Florida Fair Board of Trustees, the Glades Career Readiness Roundtable, the Glades Hunger Relief Workgroup (Co-Chair), Palms West Hospital Board of Trustees, the Junior League of the Palm Beaches and the Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee.
Commissioner McKinlay was recently elected as President of the Florida Association of Counties, the first Palm Beach County Commissioner to hold the position in twenty years. Additionally, she serves as one of two Florida Members on the National Association of Counties (NACo) Board of Directors and was recently appointed as Vice Chair of the Agriculture & Rural Affairs Policy Steering Committee after serving two years as the Committee Chair, the first woman and the first Floridian to do so. At NACo, she has also been appointed to serve on the Rural Action Caucus, elected to the NACo NextGen Committee Board of Directors, and formerly served as President of the NACo Women’s Caucus.
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. She currently resides in Wellington (FL) and has been a hardworking single Mom for over a decade of three great children: Annika (19), Macey (20) and Brady (22). All three kids are in college – two in Tallahassee and one in Orlando.
Melissa completed Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class 37 (#sogood) and also the prestigious Governing Magazine’s Women in Government Leadership Institute, an annual program for the nation’s Top 25 State & Local Elected Women. She was also just appointed to Leadership Florida President Greg Haile’s Special Committee on Racial Equality.
Asked what one of her proudest accomplishments has been besides her kids and Commissioner McKinlay will tell you it’s a tie between being part of the team that developed Palm Beach County’s first Addiction Stabilization Unit at JFK North Hospital and The Butterfly House, Palm Beach County’s first sexual assault response medical services center housed at Wellington Regional Medical Center - although helping to pass a successful piece of legislation aimed at eliminating human trafficking would be a close third tie!
She has received multiple awards for her advocacy efforts including:
- Palm Beach County National Organization of Women Susan B. Anthony Feminist of the Year TBA August 2020
- Place of Hope Beacon of Light Community Advocate Award for Human Trafficking Prevention Efforts 2020
- National Foundation for Women Legislators Elected Women of Excellence Award, 2019
- Florida’s Children First Child Advocate of the Year, 2019
- Delray Beach Drug Task Force Community Advocate of the Year, 2019
- Palm Beach County Medical Society Heroes in Medicine Award for Advocacy, 2018
- Women’s Chamber of the Palm Beaches Nominee for Outstanding Government Leader, 2018
- Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Coalition Community Leader Award, 2018
- Pahokee Rotary Club Community Service Award, 2018
- Florida Association of Counties Marlene Young Presidential Award for Outstanding Advocacy, 2017
- Florida Association of Counties Presidential Advocacy Award, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015
- Florida Association of Counties Certified County Commissioner Program Graduate, 2017
- Palm Beach Compass Leadership Award for Social Justice, 2016
- Champions of The Glades Award, 2016
- The City of Pahokee Key to the City for Outstanding Advocacy, 2016
- 1st Annual ChildNet Champion for Children Award, 2015
- International Association of Firefighters Award for Distinguished Achievement, 2011
- Junior Leagues of Florida Spirit of the League Award for Outstanding Advocacy, 2009
- Girls Advocacy Project Creators of Hope, Partners in Dreams, Builders of Strength Girl Power Award, 2007
- 15th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Community Advocate of the Year, 2006
- American Association of Grant Professionals, Charter Member, 1998 to 2001
- Leadership Sarasota County Government, Member, Class of 2001
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.