A Rising Tide: Mellen Duffy Tanamly

Mellen Duffy Tanamly spent her career with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which took her all over the world including West Africa, El Salvador, Belize, Egypt, and Jordan. She learned of Together Women Rise through friends at USAID and has been a member for over six years. She recently took over leadership of her chapter and is excited for this new role! 

Kia: You’ve been a member of Together Women Rise for over 5 years but just became a Chapter Leader. How did you end up in this leadership role? 

Mellen: I originally learned about Rise from folks at USAID and joined a chapter in Fairfax, VA in 2017. It was a large chapter and one of the Chapter Leaders encouraged me to apply for the Grant Selection Committee (GSC). I served on that Committee for a while. When I moved back to New England, I found a small chapter in New Hampshire that met in a farmhouse. That chapter also had co-leaders, and it was a good model to learn from. I recently moved to a retirement community in Exeter, and I knew there was a chapter there. I offered to be the co-leader for that chapter and run the education piece. I tried to get more discussion going, and we also brought new people into the chapter. When the former chapter leader couldn’t continue, I said I would take over. We’re going to start meeting at the retirement community I live in which has three campuses.  

Kia: What did you learn from your former Chapter Leader? What will you do similarly to her as you take over? 

Mellen: She always seemed so calm and welcoming to everybody and never rushed through the meeting and various steps (the social part, the meal, and the educational part). She was always very gracious. I was a bureaucrat for many years and I don’t want to act like that as a Chapter Leader. I will also draw on my experience with other chapters I’ve been involved with. For example, the leaders in VA were very well informed and very prepared. They could talk in depth about the projects and why we were involved. I used to ask a lot of questions and that’s why I was encouraged to apply for the GSC. All of the Chapter Leaders have been great role models for me. The Chapter Leaders I’ve had were really dedicated to the organization and helping girls and women. They took the time to digest the material and share it with us. It made me feel they were quite dedicated.  

Kia: Now that you are a Chapter Leader, what is your current focus for your chapter? 

Mellen: When I first started promoting Rise within my retirement community, there was a lot of interest. It will be interesting to see how it takes off. We’ve just started putting flyers up on the other campuses and there is a diversity committee within the community that I’ll be speaking to soon. We’ll host the meetings on my campus, but we’ll be open to new members from the town as well. The room we’ll be using going forward has nice AV for the educational piece and the other campuses have good facilities too. A few members are helping me plan the next few meetings so I’m glad I have their help.  

Kia: What has been one of your favorite experiences with Rise? 

Mellen: Connecting with other interested and engaged women overall, either through chapter meetings or in my volunteer roles. And learning about other people’s perspectives on problems and solutions. I particularly enjoy sharing time and effort to a common cause.  

Kia: Where do you see your chapter in another five years? 

Mellen: I see this chapter as growing to include residents from all three of our campuses as well as members from the town and involving people at different stages of their lives. We have invited staff members as well as adult children of the members nearby. We want to have a diverse membership with different generations and outlooks.  

If you are interested in being featured on “A Rising Tide” or have a recommendation for a chapter or chapter leader who should be featured, please email Kia Hunter, our Volunteer Manager, at kia@togetherwomenrise.org.