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Walhalla, South Carolina

Saraí Meléndez

Learn | Love | Lead

Advocacy & Public Policy Officer

Saraí is a leader who serves her community at the intersection of heritage and an inclusive future. She advocates for the well-being of all South Carolinians through intentional, genuine, and authentic connections. 

Born to Mexican-immigrant parents from indigenous heritage, Saraí witnessed the value of persistence, commitment, and hard work at a very young age. Raised in the rural small town of Walhalla, SC, she experienced the need for resources and advocacy needed in her community. Through her parents’ sacrifice and their commitment to see her succeed, she navigated and completed her education in 2021, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Sciences with a concentration in Behavioral Health from Anderson University.

During the course of her education, Saraí became unsettled because of the inadequate resources her neighbors, community members, and herself were experiencing in Walhalla, South Carolina, and in 2020 she made history by becoming her city’s first Latina councilwoman. Being elected taught Sarai that anything is possible with the support of your community. 

In 2019, she was awarded Oconee County’s Top 20 under 40 and the Supporting Staff of the Year Award in 2021 at James M. Brown Elementary School. She is a former board member of the Planning Commission for the City of Walhalla and a former board member of the Oconee County Public Library of Trustees. 

Saraí’s true passion is simply sitting with people connecting with them on a deeply human level in order to create spaces for healing and transformation. She continues to strive for a balance of immigrant heritage and inclusive-bridge-building that made her who she is, and she challenges the system for a fairer and a more equitable South Carolina. 

Whether riding bikes with her daughter on the weekends or driving to Columbia to push for change, you know her vision isn’t just for today, but for the future of all tomorrow.

Community Involvement

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Cesar Salas

Cesar Salas is a well-loved member of our HA Familia and the entire Greenville community. In addition to being an active advocate for inclusion, he is a certified yoga instructor, teaching bilingual yoga in Spanish to South Carolinians.

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Adela Mendoza

Adela is an international professional skilled at building strategic collaborative partnerships, facilitating cross-cultural relationships, and leading diverse teams and coalitions.  In her role as Executive Director of the Hispanic Alliance, Adela is driving systemic change to increase access to opportunity for the emerging Hispanic community.

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TJ Rumler

A Greenville native, TJ has seen first-hand the impacts of inequality in our community. With a Master’s Degree in Social Work, TJ’s experience and passion for positive social change are the perfect blend to grow our next generation of leaders in South Carolina.

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