Meet Melissa Schenkel.
Melissa Schenkel is VP, Director of Marketing & Communication for STAR Bank where she works to strategically build and leverage the STAR brand across Northeast and Central Indiana. Prior to STAR, she spent more than a decade in Public Relations at Vera Bradley. Throughout her career, Melissa has provided commentary on CNN, the Travel Channel, Extra, KTLA, and countless local news programs.
Melissa is a 2020 graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a 2017 graduate of Leadership Fort Wayne, and a 2013 Fort Wayne Business Weekly 40 Under 40 award winner. She holds an M.A. in Public Relations and a B.A. in Telecommunications (with a Dance Minor) from Ball State University. She is active in the Fort Wayne community as a board member of Turnstone Center for Adults and Children with Disabilities and Visit Fort Wayne. She serves as a volunteer at Erin’s House for Grieving Children and has taught various English, sales, and marketing classes at Indiana Tech. Melissa and her husband, Pete, and their children reside in Fort Wayne.
YWCA Asks: What does an “empowering woman” mean to you?
Melissa: An empowering woman means being more interested than interesting. It means being willing and wanting to hear the opinions and thoughts of everyone at the table. I once was at a media training more than 15 years ago where we were taught as journalists that our natural instinct would be to find the person who looks the most like us and to talk to them. Instead, we were encouraged to seek the opinions of people who are different than us. That reminder continues to linger in my head daily. By doing something as simple as asking someone’s opinion, we are empowering them. We all have that power.
YWCA Asks: In what ways do you feel that you empower other women?
Melissa: I hope I am empowering my 9-year-old daughter daily. I try to seek her opinions and thoughts before I suggest guidance of my own. I want her to know that she and her thoughts matter and that she—without my guidance someday—will move many mountains on her own, along with many mountains of her tribe. I encourage her to build a tribe of those who are different and those who bring skills that she doesn’t. She will do much on her own, yet she can and will do even more with a solid tribe around her.
YWCA Asks: Would you please share an experience or tidbit of knowledge that would help other women?
Melissa: One of the most beneficial tips I’ve learned in life is to be comfortable with silence. We often have a tendency to fill awkward silence by speaking, and when doing this, we find we are talking quickly and don’t represent exactly how we feel due to being anxious. Learn to embrace those moments of awkward silence, and don’t be so quick to make the situation less awkward. This tip can be used in many situations, such as a job interview, speaking with the media, or even speaking with a family member.