The Year of the Woman: Melinda Collins

Melinda Collins, Board of Selectmen member
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By Doug Scibeck.

The Year of the Woman: Melinda Collins

The Year of the Woman is unfolding to be more than slogan or noble ambition. It is motivating more and more women to become active in politics and the community. They are leading efforts for positive change. Melinda Collins is one such woman inspired to give back by running for office.

Fresh off her election victory as new town selectman, Melinda’s decision to become more active in town government started with attending a meeting of Milton Persists. While talking with people Melinda explained her intentions and background. Professionally, she is a board consultant and business coach, working in professional facilitation and helping executive boards with organization and execution. People told her that her skill set, and MBA, better matched serving on the Board of Selectmen. Wanting to help the town in some way, she pulled papers and is now a candidate.

Melinda has a, “Growing sense of gratitude for her being able to live in Milton, and for all the people who make the town what it is.” “We have volunteerism on an unbelievable scale. The only way to say thank you is to do what you can.”

In this, Melinda Collins represents every woman in Milton who has much to give to the town. How many woman, and men, live here who think they could make a difference if only …? She is an answer to that question, there does not need to be an ‘if only …’ Often people only need to be told that they can do it. Her campaign is that message, women can do it. You do not need to be a tenth generation resident who previously held five offices in town government in order to get involved and make a difference. All it takes is wanting to help and then doing it.

“We have volunteerism on an unbelievable scale. The only way to say thank you is to do what you can.”

Melinda told me how she recognizes that this is a vibrant community, with a rich diversity of people willing to contribute their talents. Yet with all the volunteers in town there is a real need for more involvement on a political level more than voting. Milton faces challenges.

She went to the Milton Persists meeting with the idea of seeing how she might help with the issue of affordable housing. As her thoughts evolved into running for office, she continued to view this as an area open for her skills. The town does need development and more affordable housing.

Melinda also agrees that Milton needs a youth center. There are few places for our kids to go, and a town youth center can support programs from the schools. This idea, as well as that of affordable housing, raises emotions and strong opinions. “People’s feelings are not irrational. There are problems. But talking over issues is a good place to start. [We] have to set up conditions to ameliorate concerns and foster consensus.”

Melinda told me that Mike Dennehy, the Town Administrator, is an incredible asset to the town. She looks forward to working with him and the rest of the board while it transitions to a five member structure and the ‘strong administrator’ role continues to be implemented.

With these ambitions, she is one of, hopefully, many women inspired to become more involved. The skills and experience of women are vital for more comprehensive solutions to the problems Milton faces. As Melinda noted, “This town usually can find a way to address our problems when there’s seen to be enough need.” Part of that wherewithal surely comes from taking full advantage of the talents of all, especially those historically less called upon. Highlighting the willingness of women contributing to the town ideally will encourage more women to speak up and volunteer. Their talents are needed.

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