With generations of roots in Atlanta, Leah Melnick is proud to be the Director of Programs for Giving Kitchen. Her passion for volunteerism surfaced at a young age, as Leah has found herself drawn to opportunities for community outreach and engagement. Leah followed this passion while pursuing a degree in international affairs and Spanish from Georgia Tech. After graduating in 2006, Leah put her degree to use first in the AmeriCorps program at HandsOn Network and eventually as the International Project Manager for the HandsOn Network.
Like many of us, Leah took her first server position as a means of supporting herself through college and when the economy fell in 2008, she happily returned to the restaurant industry as a server at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q. Her organizational, leadership and management skills made a strong impression and Leah was quickly promoted from server to manager then to Assistant General Manager, a position she held for just under five years.
It was during her employment as AGM of Fox Bros Bar-B-Q that Leah was first introduced to the Giving Kitchen. When her friend and Fox Bros Executive Chef, Charlotte Nelson, was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer in late 2012, Leah rallied with her team to put together a fundraiser dubbed “Charlotte’s Web” designed to help raise essential funds for Charlotte’s family who were accruing extensive medical and personal expenses. It was at Charlotte’s Web that Leah first met Ryan and Jen Hidinger.
The Hidingers heard about Charlotte’s battle and wanted to help in a meaningful way. Leah was so taken with their generosity to donate a portion of their personal funds from the first Team Hidi event that she was eager to find a way to give back, so began volunteering for the Giving Kitchen in its infancy. Leah was an influential and active volunteer for GK for over a year before joining the team as an official staff member. As a long time restaurant employee with valuable non-profit experience with several organizations, Leah was the obvious candidate for the Development Manager position. Today, Leah manages the grant programs and is an advocate for restaurant workers that apply for GK crisis assistance. Leah is proficient in Spanish and also handles all translation and communication efforts through GK’s connections with the Latino population in Atlanta.
Outside of work, you can usually find Leah volunteering through nature-driven nonprofits, tasting the amazing variety of food and beverage throughout Atlanta, or out dancing and listening to music at concerts with her partner Christopher Rivera de Rosales.
For program inquiries, please get in touch with Leah at firstname.lastname@example.org.