The award is especially meaningful for Melchi because in 2009 she competed in a design contest initiated by the late Judith Hommel, who was Executive Director to the President at Washtenaw Community College. Melchi won the contest and the opportunity to create FLI’s Spelling Bee materials. It was around this time that Melchi opened her graphic design firm, Jennifer Melchi Design Co.

As Hommel and Melchi worked together, they became fast friends. “Judith was a visionary who had a passion for the Family Learning Institute,” said Melchi. “It was inspiring to hear her talk about our direction and how we should grow.”

Hommel also had a knack for bringing in people to generate new ideas. In addition to Jennifer Melchi, Hommel also recruited Karen Chapell and Jamie Guise to join the FLI Board.

Serving on the Board has been positive experience for Melchi. “I always come away from Board meetings excited about the future of FLI,” she said. “We may come with different viewpoints, but everyone seems to be generous in sharing ideas about our common goal.”

Melchi would like to see FLI continue to grow,and she is pleased that the organization has reached out to schools to provide onsite tutoring this year. “Our relationship with the schools is key to our mission, and we need to continue building that connection,” said Melchi. “I also believe that Judith Hommel would be pleased to see FLI move in this direction.”

The Hommel award is considered to be a distinctive honor and isn’t given every year. Past honorees are Mary Maynard (2018), JoEllen Mogelgaard (2017), and Gary Maynard (2014).