Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay was first elected in 2014. After serving as Mayor in 2017/18, Melissa was re-elected without opposition. Prior to election, Melissa spent twenty years advocating on behalf of women, children and families as a Legislative aide to the Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs Office, members of Congress and the US Senate, as a volunteer and as a single Mom.
Commissioner McKinlay served as the 2020-2021 President of the Florida Association of Counties, currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties and is a former Chair of the National Association’s Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, the only woman and Floridian to ever do so. She remains a Vice Chair of the Committee today as well as a member of their Immigration Reform Task Force, the past President of the Women’s Caucus, and a Board Member of their NextGen Association for young leaders. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Lake Okeechobee 16-County Coalition and was recently appointed by the Biden Administration to serve on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, where she also serves on the Subcommittee for Environmental Justice.
Locally, Melissa serves on the 15th Circuit State Attorney Addiction Recovery Task Force, the Transportation Planning Agency, the Board of the South Florida Fair, and as a Trustee on the PalmsWest Hospital Board of Trustees. Previously, the Commissioner was appointed to the Children’s Services Council, spent five years on the Executive Committee of the Business Development Board, and served on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.
In her free time, Melissa has spent more than 25 years as a member of the Junior League and served two terms as the State Chairwoman of the Junior Leagues of Florida, the statewide advocacy arm of the League. She has also served as President of the Palm Beach County Division of ChildNet and on the Boards of Voices for Children, the Boys & Girls Club of Boca Raton, and several public schools PTOs, School Advisory Committees and Class Mom.
Recently, Melissa completed the prestigious Governing Magazine’s Women in Government Leadership Institute for the nation’s Top 25 State & Local Elected Women, is a graduate of Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class 37, and a Florida Association of Counties’ Certified County Commissioner Graduate.
In addition to her years of service, she’s received multiple awards for advocacy including:
- Executive Women of the Palm Beaches’ 2022 Public Sector Woman in Leadership Award
- Riverview High School Foundation 2022 Hall of Fame Inductee
- Women’s Chamber of the Palm Beaches 2018 & 2022 Nominee for Outstanding Government Leader
- Palm Beach County National Organization of Women 2020 Susan B. Anthony Feminist of the Year
- National Foundation for Women Legislators 2019 Elected Women of Excellence Award
- Place of Hope Illumination Award for Human Trafficking Awareness Efforts, 2020
- Florida’s Families First Child Advocate of the Year, 2019
- Delray Beach Drug Task Force Community Advocate of the Year Award, 2019
- Palm Beach County Medical Society 2018 Heroes in Medicine Award
- Pahokee Rotary Club 2018 Community Service Award
- 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 Awards 2015-2019
- Association of Junior Leagues International Mary Harriman Award for Advocacy Nominee
- 2016 Compass Social Justice Leadership Award
- 2016 Champion of the Glades
- 2015 Inaugural ChildNet Champion for Children Award
- International Association of Firefighters 2011 Award for Distinguished Achievement
- Junior Leagues of Florida 2009 Outstanding Advocacy Award
- Girls Advocacy Project 2008 Girls Power Award
- Florida 15th Judicial Circuit 2006 Child Advocate of the Year Award
- 2001 Graduate of Leadership Sarasota County Government
Her proudest accomplishment? Her three children top the list. She’s also pretty proud to have been a founding member behind Palm Beach County’s Butterfly House and Sexual Assault Response Team, her efforts to open the County’s first Addiction Emergency Room, her fight for healthy housing, and her successful push to provide our firefighters with the first cancer coverage protections in Florida.