Meet Your Neighbor: Melanie Kauffman |

Meet Your Neighbor: Melanie Kauffman

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunMelanie Kaufmann

How long have you lived in Truckee?

I’ve lived in Truckee for 12 years.

When did you start working with the Arts For the Schools program?

I started in January 2008.

What is your job with the Arts For the Schools program?

I’m responsible for overseeing the Artist-in-Residence (Art in the Classroom) and on-stage Performance Series (school and community performances) programs.

I work closely with artists’ representatives and manage performances and scheduling, as well as supporting the artists-in-residence. I also serve in a leadership capacity to help guide the direction of the organization and work closely with the board of trustees to meet our fundraising and marketing goals.

What is the purpose of Arts For the Schools?

This is a pivotal time in the history of Arts For the Schools because it’s the 25th Anniversary season. Our goal is to give children opportunities to experience art and culture because of the positive benefits it has on their development, including building self-esteem, cognitive skills, imagination, creativity, tolerance, risk taking, listening and focusing. The overall focus of Arts For the Schools is to enhance early learning and foster a lifelong appreciation of the creative arts.

Were you always interested in arts?

As the youngest of six siblings, I grew up in a family where music and fine art was the focus of our environment and connected us in a very special way. My mother continues to play the piano, my brother David is a professional and dedicated visual artist in Hawaii. My other sisters and brothers have also incorporated music and art as a core interest in their lives. We were constantly listening to music as kids covering a range of genres from pop to classical, and rock to musical film. My husband and I also believe strongly in the value of art education, which we have demonstrated by supporting our teen sons with their music education and creative development. Our son Jared is a freshman at UC Riverside and his major is creative writing. I guess you can say I’m an art enthusiast and appreciate the artisans who educate, entertain and inspire us.

What is your favorite play?

West Side Story.

Who are your favorite artists?

Itzhak Perlman, Andrea Bocelli and Elton John.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy skiing, reading and hiking.

Do you do any volunteer work?

I’m currently on hiatus from volunteerism due to the demands of my business and family schedule, however, when possible I support TEMPO (Truckee Excellence in Music Parents Organization) which is the fundraising arm of the Truckee High School Jazz Band. During recent years I’ve actively supported the Truckee Youth Music Program and Tahoe League for Charity.

What do you like best about what you do?

It’s an inspiration to engage with artists who are exceptionally talented individuals and willing to share their passion for the arts with children. It’s also a thrill to watch the enthusiasm of a child when they’ve experienced a truly engaging artistic performance, and the sense of accomplishment a child enjoys when they have created a piece of art.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I believe I’ve made an impact in our community through my efforts to build resources for women, children and seniors. I feel a sense of accomplishment through my involvement in key community projects including the KidZone Museum, Tahoe Women’s Services-Safe House Campaign and developing the start-up non-profit Sierra Senior Services. It was also an honor to be named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Tahoe City in 2004 and a recipient of the certificate of recognition from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in 2007.

Is there anything your neighbors don’t know about you?

In 2008 I became a Queen of Hearts member, which is a women’s fund established by the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation.

” Liz Motta performed this week’s Meet Your Neighbor interview. Please e-mail future suggestions to

Find more about:

Arts For the Schools at

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