Melinda Fine, Senior Fellow
Dr. Melinda Fine's career in education, youth leadership, gender justice, and social change spans three decades. She is the Vice President of NEO Philanthropy (formerly Public Interest Projects), a 501c3 public charity that marshals the power of collaborative philanthropy to advance social change. NEO operates grantmaking, strategic planning, and capacity building initiatives for diverse donors investing in social justice and human rights issues. As Vice President, Melinda leads strategic partnerships with both funders and advocacy, organizing, and research organizations across a wealth of intersecting social justice fields, seeking to support effective and sustainable social justice movements. Previously at NEO, Melinda directed Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER), a national funders collaborative that supported grassroots community-driven efforts advancing educational excellence and equity. Between 2007 and 2014, CPER raised and invested $34 million from 76 member donors, providing direct grants and field building resources to 140 grassroots and advocacy groups and coalitions across the country. These groups, in turn, achieved 90 systemic policy reforms that advanced educational justice and opportunity for low-income youth of color. In directing CPER, Melinda drew on her professional experience in leading and managing large-scale, complex, multi-party initiatives and in directing strategic thinking and learning toward results-driven programs and practices that yield positive outcomes for youth, families and communities.
Before joining NEO Philanthropy, Melinda led Fine Consulting, an independent consulting practice providing strategic planning, program development, organizational learning, and research and evaluation services. Focused in the fields of education, youth development, and civic engagement, Melinda's former clients included private foundations, national nonprofits, and government agencies. Prior to founding Fine Consulting, Melinda was Assistant Research Director at Sesame Workshop, where she led studies that informed the development of Ghostwriter, a television series to promote children’s literacy skills. In the 1980s, Melinda founded and led the International Program of the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, where she was responsible for coordinating peace movement activism and advocacy efforts between US-based organizations and NGOs internationally.
In addition to her affiliation as senior fellow at the Research Center for Leadership and Action, Melinda serves on the Scholars Board of Facing History and Ourselves and the American Planning Board of Humanity in Action. She is a former district-wide elected member of the Community Education Council for New York City’s District 2, Region 9, and former fellow of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Melinda’s numerous publications include two books, scholarly articles, white papers, landscape analyses, research reports, and layperson briefs. She holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College.