MEET MELANIE DUPONT
Melanie grew up in Smithfield, at the end of what started out as a dirt road. Every summer she ran around in one-dollar flip flops, climbing trees, riding bikes, and learning to swim at Slacks Pond.
On school days, Mel and her siblings came home to an empty house. Dad and Mom worked. The girls babysat for a buck an hour. And Mel worked her first of many jobs in male-dominated industries: she got a paper route. Money was tight, so the DuPonts conserved, and Mel wore mostly hand-me-downs and too-big shoes with wads of newspaper stuffed into the toes.
All the streets in town got paved, and with that pavement came air pollution, noise, and light pollution. Each night the town grew brighter, more stars disappeared from the sky, one by one. Mel noticed.
Ever the bookworm, Mel excelled in school. At Smithfield High School, she enjoyed writing, languages, math, civics, sciences, chorus, and playing on the school's original girls' soccer team, which won the playoffs in its second year.
She graduated high school, studied at Northeastern University, and transferred to Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Unfortunately, Mel had to drop out, become a nanny to make ends meet, and take a moment to think about what she wanted to do next.
Mel took her ear for listening and her analytical skills and entered the technology workforce as a Help Desk technician. She practiced clear communication as a tool for relieving and preventing suffering, then turned her twin passions of writing and helping others into a Technical Writing career that took off.
Two decades into her career, Mel took a break from technical writing, project management, software quality assurance testing, and everything else, and drove solo across the United States, visiting her friends and blogging as she went. She lived for a year in Canada and graduated with honors from Vancouver Film School's writing for film and television program. She was just starting to build a local career in film when the 2016 election happened.
Melanie realized that she had not been paying close enough attention to politics, she got involved — very involved. She became an activist. She got hooked on making big change through sharing know-how, inspiring folks, and fighting hard for the laws that reduce suffering.
Working within a team, Mel gave her first testimonies before the House and Senate committees. The team helped legislators see that banning conversion therapy is the right thing to do to protect children. The bill passed and the Governor signed it into Rhode Island law. During that process, Mel assisted filmmaker Selene Means with production of The Time is Already, the documentary of the team's efforts to pass the bill.
She phone banked to let supporters know when the Reproductive Health Care Act would be heard, and which legislators we needed to join us. Plus, Mel fundraised to run an ad in the Providence Journal to let people know how to contact their Senators and Representatives. Ultimately, hundreds of volunteers from across the state and all walks of life succeeded in codifying Roe v. Wade at the state level.
As she learned how state legislation works, Melanie sat down with her State Senator and realized he did not have the community's interests at heart in passing the bills that mattered most. In 2018, she primaried him.
During her campaign, Melanie won the endorsements of Sierra Club, RI NOW, Planned Parenthood Votes, Indivisible RI, RI Coalition Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, The Rhode Island Democratic Party Women's Caucus, The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Our Revolution RI, Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America, and UAW Rhode Island.
As a strong, smart leader and first-time runner, Melanie got 38% of the vote, but that wasn't enough to win.
Unfortunately, she was right: her State Senator still doesn't vote with the community in mind. In the past two years:
We the people must complete the task of building a compassionate and courageous government, especially our state legislature. For all our sakes, it's time to try again. And this time, with your help, Mel can and will win.