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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Rebecca Zuker, HBA '23 Candidate

Melanie Rodriguez: Creating change wherever you go – How Ivey alum make their impact matter

Feb 9, 2023

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For HBA 2014 graduate Melanie Rodriguez, it was an experience at a children's home in Peru that led her to her passion - advancing equitable access to education. Before beginning the HBA program, Melanie undertook this volunteer opportunity that increased her awareness of many human rights issues, including inequitable access to education.  

During her time at Ivey, Melanie acquired core business skills that taught her how to communicate with leaders, manage budgets, and lead complex projects. As a Sustainability Certificate recipient, she was able to expand her understanding of what’s possible through business. The Certificate program also connected her with life-changing mentors and opportunities, including one that led her to an internship at a non-profit organization.  

Melanie also worked with both the Center for Building Sustainable Value & Network for Business Sustainability at Ivey as a Communications Specialist. These experiences strengthened her understanding of sustainability practices and how all organizations, even profit-driven ones, can benefit from integrating sustainability across all business functions.  

Melanie has since held several different roles in the social impact space, specifically focusing her attention on child development. With positions such as Head Delegate of Canada for the Youth 7 Summit, Executive Director for Alma Children's Education Foundation, and many more, she has continuously been involved in different ways that keep her passions central to her work. In addition to her professional career, Melanie is an avid volunteer. Volunteering has inspired her, introduced her to role models and change-makers, and ultimately brought her great joy.  

This abundance of experiences eventually led her to Hoot Reading, an online literacy service that connects children with qualified teachers to complete 1:1, evidence-based literacy instruction. The organization aims to support Sustainable Development Goal #4; “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.” Melanie joined Hoot Reading as their Executive Director of Hoot For All and now also holds the title of Senior Director of Marketing and Social Impact. The organization ensures that each business function delivers social good through its strategic charitable and school district partnerships. Melanie is very passionate about Hoot Reading’s ability to use technology to advance Sustainable Development Goal #4.  

She shares that “technology brings one of the greatest opportunities to scale impact. By bringing together different sectors, thought leaders, and researchers, we have the opportunity to leverage one of the greatest opportunities of our time. However, to realize sustainable and scalable impact for the future, we need to focus on solutions that are data-driven, evidence-based, and human-centric.” 

Melanie is also a Fellow at the International Women’s Forum. Through her fellowship, she will participate in customized leadership training for high-achieving women on their path to the C-suite while also completing a legacy project to advance social impact. With the help of this initiative Melanie strives to develop the next generation of empathetic leaders through the creation and distribution of empathy resources to 1,000,000 parents. She hopes this new project will allow families to strengthen their empathy skills while building meaningful collaboration across sectors.  

As she continues to grow and learn more about social impact, Melanie reflects on how she has progressed through her career and shares her best advice for students: 

“Never underestimate the power of your network and the Ivey network. Regardless of which area of sustainability you are passionate about, your impact can be accelerated through meaningful connections and strategic partnerships. One of the greatest benefits and life-long benefits of attending Ivey is that there are so many incredible and inspirational alumni to meet. Reach out to alumni, connect on LinkedIn, and discover the great opportunity to advance impact through building a network of change-makers. Just remember that career goals are not inherently tied to titles and position names; these goals can be tied to the impact you want to make.”