Melina Pizano, Converge Conference, Emerging Leaders Panel

A true Kankakee native, Melina finds immense pride in calling this vibrant city her home. She currently serves as the Development Manager for United Way of Kankakee & Iroquois Counties, helping foster relationships with corporate, nonprofit, and local partners to propel the United Way’s mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community to advance the common good. Melina also plays a significant role in leading the United Way’s Women United initiative, which advances the organization’s mission through fundraising events, service projects, and social opportunities tailored for local women. 

Before her time with the United Way, Melina worked at The Salon at Ulta Beauty. There, she excelled as a Master Hair Stylist and led the charitable endeavors of Ulta Beauty’s Charitable Foundation at the store level. As a first-generation college student, Melina’s journey has been marked by determination and resilience. Set to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in the fall of 2024, Melina’s path was not without its challenges. A lack of accessible mentors compelled her to venture into the world of pageantry. Melina held the titles of Miss US Latina World 2017 and Miss Illinois Latina 2019. Through these experiences, she encountered women who were striving to make a difference in their communities for issues they were passionate about. She witnessed the incredible impact of nonprofits on a national scale, which motivated her to create transformative change in her own community—a journey that eventually led her to the United Way of Kankakee & Iroquois Counties. 

For Melina, the United Way isn’t just an organization—it’s a canvas upon which she has the honor of helping to paint a brighter future alongside others in the community. It’s a place where she witnesses firsthand the positive transformations initiated by her colleagues, neighbors, and local leaders. 

Beyond her professional pursuits, you can find Melina spending time with her family, friends, and her Toy Poodle, Santi.