Melissa "Mel" Henriksen

Title: Assistant Director
Team Leader: Strategic Management, Policy and Community Development
Office Phone: 815-753-0323
Email: mhenriksen@niu.edu

Melissa Henriksen, M.P.P., has a diverse background, including economic and community development, technical assistance, strategic and comprehensive planning, rural healthcare research and grant writing. She is a specialist in the areas of strategic planning (conducting focus groups, wage and benefit studies and asset/needs assessments), community and economic development, and rural health research. Mel has led or co-facilitated strategic planning and stakeholder input efforts for municipalities; nonprofits; school and other districts; boards of directors; and college units, community colleges and other institutes of higher education. For the past 14 years, she has managed funded projects for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), the National Association of Development Agencies (NADO), the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as state and local organizations focused on economic and community development and healthcare. These projects included coordinating surveys, community focus groups, strategic planning to identify potential challenges and solutions, demographic analysis and distilling themes and findings from a variety of qualitative information to share with key stakeholders. Over the past five years, Mel and her team have led or conducted nearly 200 qualitative interviews and/or focus groups to garner stakeholder input and participation for strategic projects and initiatives.

Melissa earned a B.A. in political communication/public relations and a Master of Public Policy, both from the University of Northern Iowa. She is a board member for the Illinois Rural Health Association and is the chair of its Research and Education and Conference Committee. In addition, she is a former Kettering Foundation Research Fellow and recently received the ICAHN Service Award for her research in rural healthcare and its economic impact on rural communities.

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