Meet Melissa

The Vision

Melissa McCullough is running for Chapel Hill Town Council because she wants to work to make Chapel Hill be what we aspire to be. She has unique expertise to bring to Council to make that happen. Melissa wants to make sure that all Chapel Hillians have a livable planet and a green, connected, and equitable community now and in the future. She wants to help Chapel Hill minimize our contributions to climate change, to be prepared for changes in climate and to make life better for everyone along the way. She believes fervently that, as Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.”

The Beginning

Melissa first came to the area to get her Masters at Duke’s School of the Environment (just graduate school, so she’s NOT a “Dukie”). In 2009, she took an EPA “detail” working with Chapel Hill on sustainability planning, for which she went to public meetings and read every one of Chapel Hill’s sustainability-related plans to look for gaps and opportunities for action. By training, she is an applied ecologist focused on understanding human impacts on ecosystems and developing solutions. She was the first state employee to examine stormwater runoff as a pollution source in the 80s, and she spent 30+ years at the US EPA—for the last 2 decades focusing on community sustainability—and retired as the Senior Sustainability Advisor and Assistant Director of the Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program. 

The Town

Melissa moved from the county into the town in 2011 so she wouldn’t have to drive everywhere, and she loves doing most trips on an e-bike, e-scooter, or on foot. Melissa has been an active citizen, participating in the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan discussions and serving 7 years on the Planning Commission, for which she served as liaison to both the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Board and the Community Design Commission. She is an accredited professional under the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, and she drafted the grant proposal to the USGBC for Orange County to be selected for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Cities and Communities certification program. The County won the grant, and Melissa did much of the work to earn that illustrious certification for our community. She is also active in Sierra Club leadership, has served as a Democratic Party precinct chair, and was on the board of the Bike Alliance of Chapel Hill (BACH). 


Melissa is quite proud of her two grown children, both nonprofit professionals. She lives with a very energetic pandemic pup and is thankful that Chapel Hill has great dog parks.  As an introvert, she hopes people will understand that while she’s never the loudest voice in the room, she’s a careful thinker and a thoughtful listener. With Melissa, what you see is what you get.

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