Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2014, served as Mayor in 2017/2018, and was 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 the U.S. House and Senate, and as a volunteer with several organizations.
Her public service involves working at all three levels of government, including the office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, the U.S. House & Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, 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 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, 16-County Coalition for Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, the 15th Circuit State Attorney's Addiction Recovery Task Force, Water Resources Task Force, 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 Advocacy Committee, and the Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee.
Commissioner McKinlay was recently appointed to serve on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Local Government Advisory Committee, the only member from Florida. She is also the Immediate Past President of the Florida Association of Counties and was the first Palm Beach County Commissioner to lead this organization in twenty years. Additionally, she serves as one of two Florida members on the National Association of Counties (NACo) Board of Directors, and serves as Vice Chair of the Agriculture & Rural Affairs Steering Committee after serving two years as the Committee Chair, the first woman and first Floridian to do so. At NACo, she was appointed to the Rural Action Caucus, elected to the NextGen Committee Board of Directors, and formerly served as President of the 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, Macey, and Brady. All three kids are in college – two in Tallahassee and one in Orlando.
Commissioner McKinlay completed Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class 37 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 appointed to Leadership Florida's Special Committee on Racial Equality.
Asked what one of her proudest accomplishments has been besides her kids, 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, 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 Children's First Advocate for Children Award, 2019
- Delray Beach Drug Task Force Community Advocate of the Year, 2019
- Palm Beach County Medical Society Heroes in Medicine Award for Advocacy, 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
- Compass Leadership Award for Social Justice, 2016
- City of Pahokee Key to the City for Outstanding Advocacy, 2016
- Champion of the Glades Award, 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 Hop, Partners in Dreams, Builders of Strength Girl Power Award, 2007
- American Association of Grant Professionals, Charter Member, 1998 to 2001
- Leadership Sarasota County Government, Member, Class of 2001
Commissioner McKinlay's priorities remain addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on her constituents, infrastructure improvements and economic development in the Glades region of her district, affordable housing, addressing the nation's opioid/fentanyl overdose crisis, safe neighborhoods, prevention programs for children, and providing opportunities and environments for families to succeed.