Donini-Melanson wins DOJ Award

By Kevin Colley -

Over the entire history of the United States, there are many individuals across the nation that are woven into our country’s history due to the sacrifices that they have made as U.S. citizens.

However, if Brandy Donini-Melanson continues on the path that she is on, she, too, will be a name that is remembered by many across a national realm.

Donini-Melanson, a 1992 Northwest High School graduate and 1996 Shawnee State University graduate, was one of 179 individuals from across the country that was honored last month when the Scioto County native was honored by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) at the 33rd Annual Director’s Ceremony in Washington, D.C. for her work as the Strategic Engagement and Law Enforcement Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts.

While the award is certainly one of the highest honors that a U.S. citizen and worker can possibly earn, it is simply a means for Donini-Melanson to continue to exercise what the county taught her, not an end.

“Although I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities had I stayed in Scioto County, it was a launching point,” Donini-Melanson said. “Growing up there has helped to form my perspective which has been important to my career.”

Over the last few months, Donini-Melanson has built her resume by taking part in violent extremism prevention and coordination through the development of the Framework program, which, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office, “provides collective insight on what it means to counter all forms of violent extremism and the types of activities that may reduce incidents.”

With Framework, Donini-Melanson helped conduct extensive research for the program by spearheading a 28-page document and a seven-minute YouTube video — while talking to over three dozen stakeholders in Massachusetts in the process — that centers around seven main problems which lead to extremist activity. Those problems, according to Framework, include alienation and social media encouragement among other issues.

“We were really just trying to drill down different perspectives from varying backgrounds and put their thoughts in a document,” Donini-Melanson said. “It was a really interesting project. I worked with a lot of people from different backgrounds, different religions, and different cultures.”

During that time, Donini-Melanson not only had to conduct extensive research for the project while talking to numerous individuals from across the state, but also had to justify the means of the entire project.

“It’s all about trying to increase awareness and working with partners,” Donini-Melanson said. “We’re partnered/working with the Massachusetts Public Health Department to measure the progress of Framework. At the end of the year, we’re hoping that we’ll have evaluations that will show whether those programs are going to be successful or not. It’s hard to measure the impact of a prevention program, so we really have to think about how that is measured. A lot of these programs are federally funded, so you have to justify the expense. The main way to do that is by measuring your performance as you go.”

However, it is Scioto County that has helped establish the roots for Donini-Melanson to grasp a project that would be overwhelming for many individuals.

“It doesn’t really matter what town you work or live in, there are dedicated and hardworking people everywhere who engage in important and meaningful ways.”

By Kevin Colley

Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7

Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7