Katie Melendez was born into a tight-knit working-class family and grew up in Vista with her three siblings and parents. She is grateful to have been raised with a compassionate and hard-working spirit. She thrived in Vista schools and was the first in her family to attend and graduate university, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies. She had intended to use her degree to go into ministry and had been accepted into Princeton Seminary. Believing in her responsibility to serve the community, she decided to decline her grad school offer, stay in her hometown, and serve locally. When an opportunity to serve arose, it was clear that Katie was dedicated to her community. Katie served as an Americorp Volunteer and was stationed at Ivey Ranch Park where she built their volunteer program and served people with special needs. During her term Katie learned more about civil service and community engagement, becoming more determined to make her city a better place for everyone. Katie is now a social worker at a long-standing, community-based, non-profit in Vista, assisting clients in finding housing stability and self sufficiency. Not only has Katie dedicated her professional life to service, but she spends her personal time working hard for the causes she believes in. Katie has participated in a grassroots organization, Residents United Network, and has campaigned for affordable housing and a solutions to homelessness. She is also a fellow at the Board and Commission Leadership Institute, a leadership program that prepares community members for decision making roles. Katie’s hard work and public service has shown how she puts People First.