event speaker - melinda bak
melinda delivers wit and wisdom
amplifying understanding and the conviction that you can make the world a better place
melinda asks our unspoken questions
with self-deprecating humor, challenging us to embrace a new narrative
where community isn't defined solely by difference but by what we share in common
communication strategist & author
School Director & Educator, Nonprofit Business Executive
with a BA in Journalism, a Masters and a lifetime solving entrenched problems
diverse ages, audiences, ethnic groups
connect with facts, stories and skills that fearlessly confront our idiosynchrasies
we can change our community
Melinda's passion and real life skills empower individuals, workplaces, schools, communities
It was a sweltering night in 1979, without
air-conditioning or a fan.
Tossing and turning in the oppressive stillness, she coped because she was head over heels in love. In love with a people and a place. Studying abroad on this southernmost Philippine Island of Mindanao was a dream come true.
A dream, right up until the moment the knocking started. Distant knocking. Then, incessant knocking.
Searching her nascent vocabulary for a translation to the Cebuano word, she moved through the darkened room toward the sound.
Pulling back the white silken-curtains, she peered into a night that glowed ominously orange. She saw smoke, inhaled smoke. It came to her then, "Silab. Fire." Skin prickling with the encroaching heat, she was awake. Heading back in the direction of the flames, she yelled with a resonant voice from somewhere deep and unfamiliar, a voice loud enough to wake the sleeping, "Get out! Get out!"
Together they fled the tongues of fire already lapping the ceiling. Pajama-clad and covered in soot and ash, she and her host family stood bereft in the street. They watched and wept. Wept with relief, that their lives had been spared. Wept with grief, when the piano fell from the upper story to the lower, wheezing a dirge of dissonant notes. Wept from the sting of smoke and senseless destruction.
It was the tip of a conflict that was still decades from washing up on American shores. Islamic forces had waged a jihad on this block of homes and businesses owned by Christians. And on this Island, Melinda was not only a witness to the callousness of insider/outsider thinking but standing barefoot in the street, she heard firsthand the weeping, the jeering and the cheering; the ruthless religious rhetoric on both sides.
When you meet, make sure to ask her about her crazy post-fire wardrobe and how it changed her world. It may change yours.
"Everyone has a story,
a compelling story.
I help communities and businesses know and tell their story so masterfully that they are empowered to change our world as only they can.
Engaging the trajectory of data and the dreams of people, I find the incredible in the story that's already yours.
I take on projects where pursuit of diversity and improving lives is resolute.
Let's innovate from entrenched problems to world-changing solutions!"
melinda bak | contact