Vice President of Client Relations / Education Studio Leader
Some people’s biggest fear is actually Melanie Parma’s specialty.
She’s the one at the front of the room addressing the audience – answering questions, alleviating concerns, eliciting feedback. She engages community members from all walks of life on building projects that will affect their neighborhoods and school districts and the very hearts of their communities.
As leader of Somerville’s education projects, Melanie facilitates meetings on some of the hottest topics a community can take up. Her focus is education design, a Somerville sweet spot.
But public speaking is only one aspect of her role. She answers the tough questions, but she asks them as well. She breaks down the process: Listen, observe, evaluate, then create. Although her background is in design and architecture, her natural skills as a welcoming conversationalist have led her toward an expertise in facilities assessment and feasibility work.
Melanie is a people person, adept at walking each stakeholder through his or her particular concerns, be it safety and security or traffic flow, the adequacy of a science lab or the spaciousness of a large cafeteria.
Planning, public participation and community engagement are critical to the success of these projects, and all stakeholders – from staff to student to everyone outside the school district– play a crucial role in designing a functional and fabulous space.
That requires Melanie’s own education, keeping up with trends in learning and teaching styles, state and local budgets, regulations and laws, and developments in modern learning environments. She attends conferences and conducts speaking engagements on education design, community engagement, referendum planning and other topics that address a school’s fit within a community.
From school board visioning sessions and staff meetings to town halls and community forums, Melanie is the voice that leads the conversation.
Education & Affiliations
Bachelor of Arts, University of Minnesota
International Association of Public Participation training (IAP2)
Melanie has been a part of the Somerville team since 1998