About Melissa Conyears-Ervin
Eula touted the importance of education for Melissa, and as a product of Chicago Public Schools, Melissa became the first person in her family to attend college. During her freshman year of college at Eastern Illinois University, Melissa faced one of the biggest challenges of her life: After twenty years at her union job, Eula’s plant closed, leaving her mother without a job.
Although Melissa offered to leave college to help pay the bills, Eula insisted she pursue a quality education and let nothing get in the way. Melissa’s mother eventually found a job, but it required exhausting double shifts to make ends meet. But setting an example, Eula later earned an undergraduate degree of her own.
Melissa graduated college, moved back home to the West Side and was quickly recruited to a position at Allstate Insurance. She rose through managerial ranks, overseeing regional offices and earning a M.B.A. in Finance from Roosevelt University. Interested in finding a way to give back to her community, Melissa sought an Executive in Residency, where Allstate paid for her to work at a charity based organization in Garfield Park, Breakthrough Urban Ministries.
While at Breakthrough, Melissa was impacted not only by homeless clients turning their lives around, but also the joyfulness volunteers and staff exhibited while they worked to improve their world. “I was able to see firsthand the effects on poverty in my community. I knew then that I had to have a more direct effect on what was going on around me,” said Melissa.
Soon after, in 2016, Melissa ran for and won a seat to become a state representative. As a legislator, Melissa earned a reputation as someone who reaches across the aisle to get things done for working families.
As a state representative, she sponsored the improved Illinois education funding formula that directed over $221 million in additional funding to Chicago Public Schools. She was also the chief sponsor of bipartisan legislation that protected funding for child care assistance, a service that allows many working parents to stay in the workforce.
Now, as a candidate for Treasurer, Melissa plans to focus her private-sector and financial training on ways to bring development into Chicago’s neighborhoods. Chicago’s billions of dollars of municipal deposits should be leveraged to help Chicago communities grow at the same rate, regardless of their zip code. Melissa believes Chicago’s investments should observe a triple bottom line, ensuring city money isn’t used to harm the environment or working families.
Melissa and her husband live in Garfield Park with their young daughter, Jeneva. Melissa is the youth superintendent at Mt. Vernon Church and participates in a youth mentoring program for teenage girls. She also founded a woman’s book club that draws members from Roscoe Village to Lawndale.