2013 Forty Under 40: Melissa (Mel) T. McMahon

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“Most of my work in giving back to the community does stem from losing Ella in 2008. I’d really like to make more time to be more active, especially with the organizations that deal with infant loss.”

Age: 29

Corporate Relations Coordinator , The Salvation Army

As the corporate fundraiser for the Salvation Army Indiana Division, Mel McMahon is responsible for seeing that their red kettles stay full to “do the most good.”

Her work benefits the Salvation Army’s programs and the corporations that donate.

The donors “have a chance to really promote their corporate values and at the same time create a positive image in front of new and existing customers,” said McMahon, who grew up in Irvington. In 2011, her first year with the Salvation Army, corporate donations increased 421 percent.

She attended Indiana University, completing a double major in communications and culture, and criminal justice, and a minor in telecommunications. She also has a master’s in public administration, not-for-profit management, from DeVry University, and a certificate in fundraising management from IUPUI.

She began working in local radio and became familiar with the Salvation Army through the former WIBC-AM 1070’s annual radiothon, then as a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army’s Homelessness Bites campaign.

In 2008, McMahon lost her 10-week-old daughter, Ella, to sudden infant death syndrome. Listeners to the Wank and O’Brien show that McMahon worked on had followed her pregnancy and Ella’s birth and reacted to her death.

“The outpouring of letters and support that I received following that announcement was huge. There were almost 500 people at her funeral,” said McMahon.

When infant mortality organizations reached out to her, she realized she could help other people through her misfortune. She has supported organizations that help families experiencing similar losses, such as Healthy Start, the March of Dimes, Indiana Perinatal Network, The National Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Program and First Candle.

Active in social media, McMahon has posted videos of her wedding to Lance Stone and a tribute to Ella, on YouTube.

She is also the managing editor of NaptownBuzz.com, a website dedicated to arts and living subjects.•

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