Natalie Biah

Youth Co-Chair

Headshot of Ayana Melvan

Ayana Melvan

Adult Co-Chair, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships for Mission Programs, Mystic Aquarium

University of Massachusetts Amherst 2006
BA in Communications with a Film Certificate
White-Riley-Peterson Fellow 2020-2021
Ayana Melvan is the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships for Mission Programs at Mystic Aquarium. Ayana is responsible for cultivating strategic partnerships that will substantially grow Mission Programs reach, revenue, and impact with a strong focus on environmental justice and racial equity. Ayana Melvan came from the United Way of Rhode Island. Ayana has worked in the field of youth development and education for over 20 years in several capacities, including most recently heading up the Youth Development work at United Way, and leading the Rhode Island Afterschool Network, with a heavy focus on environmental justice with a racial equity lens. Ayana has led work with local and statewide initiatives including the Rhode Island Working Cities Challenge from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on ending racism and helping the City of Cranston create more equitable opportunities for youth and families. She has also led the work on eliminating the school to prison pipeline in Rhode Island for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth with national and local entities. Ayana has worked as a partner with Mystic Aquarium for over a decade in Connecticut and Rhode Island to help bring conservation-focused STEM education opportunities to lower income and BIPOC youth in out-of-school time. In her spare time, Ayana enjoys hanging out with her family at the beach, pool side, or outdoors and loves living in Westerly, RI. She spends most of her free time with her husband Mark, father Dwight, and two beautiful and amazing children Phoenix and Kingston along with Percy and Pippin’ the furbabies of the house.