Melinda Taylor: Civic Leader and Assembly Person
February 12, 2021
Melinda Taylor is an Anchorage civic leader and the first African American elected official on the Anchorage Assembly.
Melinda was born in 1964 at the Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts and moved with her family to Anchorage in 1976. A graduate of Bartlett High School, she became interested in politics when she worked on Walter Furnace’s State House campaign in 1982.
After attending UAA, Melinda worked in the advertising production department of the Anchorage Daily News. Her interest in public relations led her to work for Ken Flynn Advertising in the 1990s. She returned to politics to manage the campaigns of Representative David Finkelstein and Senator Bettye Davis (see our previous post on Bettye to learn more about her story).
In 1997, Melinda decided to run for the Anchorage Assembly. Her grassroots campaign was successful and she won the election by over 300 votes, becoming the first African American to serve on the Assembly. During her tenure (she was re-elected and served a second term in 2001), Melinda worked to establish the East Anchorage fire station and successfully proposed bonds for EMS ambulance services.
While on the Assembly, Melinda also served as the communications director for the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), a position she continues to hold today. Not straying far from civic life, Melinda continues to mentor political candidates and manages campaigns, as well as fund raises for @akhopesdreams, a non-profit she co-founded which hosts leadership training summits for youth.
Melinda’s advice for other #ExtraToughWomenAK is simple: “Step out of your comfort zone as a woman and follow your dreams – Just do it.”
We’d love to know about the powerful women in your life. Share your images and stories with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @anchoragemuseum and #ExtraToughWomenAK and we’ll add them to our ongoing digital curation project. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming exhibition and be sure to check back for new posts.
Special thanks to Melinda for taking the time to share her story and photographs with us.