Melanie Kellogg, outsider turned insider in Noble County

Melanie Kellogg isn’t new to Noble County, but that didn’t mean she felt like an insider when she became the Executive Director at Be Noble Inc., Noble County’s local economic development organization.


Kellogg worked previously in Noble County, but it wasn’t the experience she thought she would have coming out of college. After graduating from Indiana State, she went straight into nonprofit work. Then after COVID hit, she knew nonprofit fundraising was going to take a big hit. She switched lanes and went to work at a for-profit organization. However, she learned that sitting in a cubicle, solely working on a computer was not right for her.


“I honestly was just looking for an organization that was in the nonprofit realm but allowed me to see physically the work that I was doing. With the other nonprofits, the work that they’re doing is very important, but you can’t necessarily see how it’s touching the community. With economic development, I can see the work that we’re doing I can see how it’s affecting our county, our businesses, the government, everything,” Kellogg said.


She applied for the executive director position, got an interview then it went south. During her interview, she was asked a fundraising question, which should have been a lay-up with her fundraising background. Her mind went blank. She froze. Kellogg was able to recover but walked out feeling like the job was a long shot.


“I wrote off the job, but thankfully the board saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at that time. And they gave me a chance and I’m loving it so far,” Kellogg said.


The job has been fulfilling for Kellogg, who is one of Fort Wayne Business Weekly’s 40 under 40 for 2024. Her favorite part of the job is the BRE, business retention and expansion, visits. It gets her out in the community and talking to the business owners.


This is the part of the job that helps wash away that outsider mentality and turns her into an insider in Noble County.


“It took a little bit to get to know the people that you need to know,” Kellogg said. “But that was kind of a fun part about first starting, going out there having those meetings learning about them learning why they love Noble County so much and growing those relationships. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”


As a woman in a leadership position, Kellogg believes she must foster diversity. The Be Noble offices are made up entirely of women and that comes with its own set of challenges.


“I’ve embraced them and I know my skill sets and what I can offer. I see it as a challenge to show everybody, ‘Hey, you might second guess my capabilities, but I’m going to prove you wrong.’ And I’m going to be inclusive in my decision-making. Because it does represent what Noble County is all about,” Kellogg said.


Melanie’s inclusive mindset has had generational implications.


Her daughter, Paityn, is a competitive dancer and at her dance studio, there’s a group called the Warriors, which works to provide children and adults with enduring intellectual development and physical disabilities the opportunity to perform while promoting overall wellness by giving confidence to their abilities.


Melanie wanted to assist in eliminating some of the financial costs, including uniforms, food and travel. Last summer, Melanie helped the owner of the studio create a nonprofit organization. And in a short amount of time, they were able to reach out to the community and get them a year’s worth of funding.


Paityn is involved in a duet with one of the Warriors, her best friend Dylan, who has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair. A few weeks ago, the duo competed at Arts United and finished second place against individuals who don’t have any disabilities.


“When Dylan got off stage, she was surrounded by a whole bunch of people, young girls that we didn’t know who were crying and thanking her for sharing her talents with them,” Kellogg said. “Being willing to go out on stage and show them anybody can go out there that just like you see that coming from young individuals, and I know makes you feel good about what’s to come.”

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