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VAM Champions: Melissa Mullins

Posted By Melissa Mullins, Friday, October 28, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We are pleased to present a new theme within our Perspectives from the Field blog, celebrating VAM Champions. VAM Champions are leaders in our field who epitomize excellence. Look for these sprinkled throughout the year and take some time to get to know your colleagues in the Virginia museum community.


This post focuses on Melissa Mullins, Executive Assistant & Grant Writer for Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, VA. We asked Melissa some fun (and some serious) questions to learn more:


1. If you could give yourself a new job title that best describes what you do, what would it be?

Grand Caretaker of Information & Research.

2. What is your favorite VAM moment? 
Bowling night at the conference at the Homestead. Even though I am a TERRIBLE bowler, I had a great time and the camaraderie was amazing!

3. What’s on your bookshelf right now?

There are two books that I am delving into right now.
a) American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow. I am looking forward to finishing this book since it combines two of my favorite subjects—history and nature.
b) Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold & Lise Stern. I love researching new ways to cook. While some cultures have used tea as a cooking ingredient for generations, it is relatively new in the US. I look forward to trying more recipes like Curried Green Tea Egg Salad with Lavender, Tea-brined Pork Chops, Genmai Cha Vegetable Soup, and Assam Shortbread Diamonds!

4. What is your superpower?

Proofreading other people’s work.

5. Why does VAM matter to you?

I like the connections that VAM provides. Keeping all of the museum professionals statewide in touch with each other makes us all stronger and better at what we do.

6. What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

Set aside a dedicated piggy bank just for travel and plan well in advance for trips.

7. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have always wanted to see the Pyramids at Giza.

8. Three words that describe VAM.

Inclusive. Professional. Welcoming.

9. Why museums?

I have always loved museums and libraries. As a student of both History and Government I know that museums and libraries are essential resources for citizens in a thriving democracy. They provide us with knowledge and experiential learning. Whether the subject is the written word, art, science, history, or a combination, museums and libraries are public repositories that tell the story of people and what they do, have done, or have learned. What better testament to our existence could there be?

Melissa Mullins is the executive assistant / grant writer for Norfolk Botanical Garden. Prior to joining the Garden, Melissa worked at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. Her other work history includes the Hampton Public Library, Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Company, and Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. Melissa holds a BA in government and history and an MA in history, both from the William & Mary. While working on her Master’s, Melissa completed the Museum Management Apprenticeship Program with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. She also holds a Certificate in Museum Management from the Virginia Association of Museums and a Museum Collections Management & Care Certificate from George Washington University. Melissa is currently working on the Advanced Certificate in Museum Management – Museum Development. She became a Grant Professional Certified (GPC) in November 2011 and a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist in 2012. Says Melissa, "For fun (and absolutely no profit!), I have taught classes on cooking with tea and cooking with fresh produce."

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