Alyssa Melby has been St. Olaf’s Program Director for Academic Civic Engagement since Fall 2017. She is responsible for: 

  • connecting faculty and their courses with community organizations and priorities to make a positive impact for students and the local community
  • facilitating faculty professional development on ACE teaching strategies
  • developing ACE courses with faculty and offering course logistical support 
  • assessing and evaluating ACE program goals and courses
  • building and maintaining effective community partnerships, largely within Northfield and Rice County

At St. Olaf, she serves on several committees and working groups, including the Election Engagement group responsible for civic engagement and voting on campus; the Lutheran Center's "Thriving Congregations" Lilly Endowment grant steering committee; the Taylor Center's MLK Day of Service committee; and others.

In 2019, she co-facilitated a MN Campus Compact Community of Practice on Community Partnerships, and in 2020 co-facilitated a community of practice on faculty development. She presented at the 2019 Midwest Campus Compact Conference with four faculty members on the ACE Faculty Community of Practice, a project funded by To Include is To Excel, a multi-year grant initiative from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She also penned a response to a case study in the book Ethics in Higher Education: Promoting Equity and Inclusion Through Case-Based Inquiry, eds. Rebecca Taylor and Ashley Kuntz (Nov. 2021, Harvard Education Press).

She is a former community partner of higher education institutions, having previously worked in arts management and arts education for 12 years. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Northfield Arts Guild during which time she steered the organization to greater financial stability and doubled the membership base. Back in Pittsburgh, PA, she worked as the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater where she facilitated several new initiatives to improve access for patrons and participants alike, including the country’s first-ever Autism/Sensory-Friendly performance of The Nutcracker. She is the 2013 recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability networks Emerging Leader award.  She holds an MA in Theater Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in English and Theater from the University of MN, Morris.

She is proud to make Northfield her home and lives here with her husband and three kids. In the community, she serves on multiple committees including the Healthy Community Initiative Board of Directors, League of Women Voters-Northfield and Cannon Falls Board of Directors, and the "Beyond the Land Acknowledgement" community group; and has participated on the grants committee for Northfield Shares and the MN State Arts Board.