Coconut Creek has lost a great friend, educator and resident. Melissa Aiello was struck by an auto in Coral Springs during her morning run. Melissa was the South Florida President and CEO of Junior Achievement (JA), located here in Coconut Creek. She said in an interview that the mission of JA is to “educate and inspire young people to succeed in a global economy.”
Melissa started work for JA in 1986, training volunteers and coordinating student programs. She left JA in 1988 and then returned in 1994 to serve as President and CEO. JA served about 16,000 students with classroom and after-school programs in schools throughout Broward County. That wasn’t good enough for Melissa; she had a dream for JA to be the biggest and the best.
JA was to be built at Nova Southeastern University. Melissa worked hard with the City of Coconut Creek and Broward College to build the 60,000-sq.-ft. building on the campus of Broward College. During the ground breaking, I thanked Melissa and her board for giving us the honor of having JA in our city. She expressed that JA was really fortunate to be in the City of Coconut Creek.
Melissa had a powerful way of explaining JA’s mission to South Florida and to secure Broward schools’ mandate that all students must receive JA World’s experimental learning program. She changed lives one day at a time with the students.
Melissa’s staff stated that her gift of spirit, her empathy, strength, and integrity touched everyone – the staff, board, and supporters, thousands of volunteers, and so many students. Melissa would be proud that her organs were donated so others could live. There are many people I have met in my life, but Melissa was truly one of the best, brightest, and had a heart of gold.
To her husband Dennis, her son Dana, her daughter Deven Aiello Christopher and her two beautiful grandchildren, Melissa has touched our hearts forever and we will remember her awesome work for everyone.