Meet Melanie

This morning’s post is from another new US team member, Melanie Passons.


One day last year, I had a conversation with my friend, Justin Miller, about the future ... Where was God leading me next and what was He placing on my heart? This conversation prompted new ideas and goals, and a year later I now look back on God’s providence with overwhelming gratitude as I begin my role at CARE for AIDS in Nashville, TN. I’m so grateful that God brought me here and humbled to be a part of this beautiful journey.

Let’s back up about three decades! I was born and raised in Memphis, TN, an eclectic city (and BBQ capital of the world) that taught me the importance of loving people well. My childhood can be summed up in one word: happy! My wonderful family is my rock that kept me smiling and laughing through every ballet recital, talent show, church production, and more.

I attended the University of Tennessee where I studied political science, history, and college football (Go VOLS!). After graduation, I completed several political internships while studying and applying to graduate school. The following two years at The George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service were a deep dive into geopolitics and the ways in which various cultures communicate and cooperate with one another. I was constantly reminded that in looking at the big picture we must remember that people matter and our words and actions play a defining role in how the lives of others are shaped and changed.

After receiving my Master of International Affairs in 2014, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I served as Program Coordinator at the Rumsfeld Foundation, a terrific organization that encourages leadership, public service and free political and economic systems at home and abroad. This unique experience not only provided many occasions to learn and grow, but also solidified my passion for building relationships, communicating a mission, sharing stories, and creating change.

Throughout my academic studies and work experience, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the globe. From Wales to Israel, Tajikistan to China, these adventures abroad have opened my eyes and my heart to the extraordinary world around me. I have found that where there is hurt, there is also joy; where there is violence, there is also peace; where there is sickness, there is also healing.

Likewise, the profound impact that CARE for AIDS has had on those living with HIV/AIDS in East Africa can be seen in the joy, peace, and healing that many of our program graduates now experience every day. Lives are being transformed, both physically and spiritually, and to play even a small role in this work is humbling. I can’t wait to meet our dedicated staff in Africa as well as our courageous clients who are taking important steps toward living a full and healthy life.

There is something so special behind the doors of CARE for AIDS. I am thankful that God opened those doors to me and I am excited to be a part of what is to come. I hope you will join us as we empower people to live a life beyond AIDS.