committed to finding local solutions to global problems
"Be the change you want to see in the world." This phrase inspires Melani A. Walton's commitment to service and investment in the community. As a philanthropist, she is committed to efforts on a local, national, and global scale. With her background as an educator, coach, specialized sports clinician, accomplished athlete, and a licensed commercial real estate agent, she brings a diverse skill set to the philanthropic arena.
Melani is passionate about supporting research and innovation in the areas of education, arts and humanities, brain health and mind exploration, conservation and sustainability.
Together with her husband Rob, they have a love for the environment that has taken the couple around the world to more than 20 countries from the top of the Volksberg in Suriname to the depths of the Coral Sea in Indonesia. On their travels, they have worked with conservation scientists to assess ecosystems, liaised with local governments and sought to understand and effect great change as it relates to environmental and sustainability efforts.
This passion and commitment to making a difference in the world led her and Rob to support the creation of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Their contribution will help GIOS in developing and deploying promising solutions to sustainability challenges including energy, water, environment, climate, urbanization, social transformation, and decision making in local, national, and global contexts to educate future leaders in sustainability.
With her fundamental belief that education has the power transform a community coupled with her passion for all things related to the brain, Melani helped create The W.O.N.D.E.R. Center at Arizona Science Center, a special interactive mind and brain experience that impacts approximately half a million children and adults annually. Her commitment to exploring the brain has also led the Waltons to support projects within the community, such as: Phoenix Theater's Partners that Heal W.O.N.D.E.R. Project, Phoenix Symphony's B-Sharp Music Wellness W.O.N.D.E.R. Project, and Barrow Neurological Institute W.O.N.D.E.R. Project on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
Melani serves and has served on a number of boards and committees, including ASU's Women & Philanthropy; the Arizona Women's Board; The Nature Conservancy; Arizona Science Center and The ASC Learning Committee; The Phoenix Symphony; The Phoenix Children's Hospital; Society of St Vincent de Paul; The Aspen Brain Forum; Conservation International; African Parks and is a member of the National Association of Professional Women.
Melani graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in K-12 education, with an art history emphasis, from Dickinson State University. At DSU, she was a three-time All-American in both basketball and track & field, and in 2007 was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. As a member of the DSU Foundation Board, she has supported the development of a new multi-sport activity center, athletic scholarships and the first endowed chair of Theodore Roosevelt initiatives.
When Melani finds time to relax, you will find her traveling with Rob, enjoying hiking and cycling in various mountain ranges around the world. She also has a passion for speed, which is where you may find her competing in vintage racing cars or touring along the picturesque twisty roads of Tuscany. Back at home, two pet Italian Greyhounds, Jazzy and Lulu, inspire her daily as they embody the spirit of love and remind her each day to live in the moment.