By Melissa Horste
In April, Voters Not Politicians welcomed the newest member of the team, Communications Manager, Melinda Billingsley. As VNP’s Communication Manager, she fills a critical role on the team.
Voters Not Politicians has grown rapidly over the years into a family of organizations, including Voters Not Politicians, Voters Not Politicians Education Fund and the Voters Not Politicians Ballot Question Committee. As the organizations have developed, we have sought ways to build our internal capacity and fill skills gaps on our small, but mighty staff roster in order to better support our mission and the work of thousands of volunteers across the state.
VNP is often front and center in the news, setting the record straight, educating Michiganders about democracy reform, and holding public officials to account. It takes a person with strong communications chops to manage that work and that is where Melinda comes in.
As the new Communications Manager for Voters Not Politicians, I am responsible for social media, press, website, and more! Basically anything that falls under the category of “Communications” is at least partially within my wheelhouse.
Melinda is a Michigan native and grew up in Northeast Detroit, or the Deep Eastside as her friends call it. She now resides in Grosse Pointe, just a few minutes north of her old neighborhood. While Melinda is new to the organization, she is familiar with VNP and has worked alongside the organization to advance VNP’s goal to include as many people as possible in the new independent redistricting process.
My earliest memory of Voters Not Politicians is actually from when I worked at another non-profit, CitizenDetroit. Several Voters Not Politicians volunteers came to table at our events during the application phase for the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. It was great getting to partner with the local teams to get more Detroiters involved in the process.
Now that the inaugural independent redistricting process is done, VNP is pivoting towards other issues to strengthen our democracy, including expanding and protecting voting rights. Melinda is eager to dive into that work this year.
I’m looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes of the Voter Outreach and Nights and Weekends programs this fall. I think voter education is one of the most important aspects of a functioning democracy, and it’s the area of our work that I, as an educator, have always been really drawn towards. I want Michigan voters to have options for voting and to use those options to continue breaking voter turnout records, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that effort in 2022.
When Melinda is not writing press releases and social media posts, she likes to flex her creative muscles by writing and performing poetry. If you are lucky, you may find her behind a mic at the next Power in Poetry Experience of Detroit event.