My name is Melissa Garff Ballard. I’m running to represent you, your family and our community in House District 20.
Davis County is my Home
Davis County is my home. I was born here. I grew up here. My husband and I have raised six children here. I love this community and the opportunities offered here.
Generations before us have worked incredibly hard so that we can enjoy this area, but there is still much to do.
A Broadened Perspective
Growing up, I had the opportunity to live in England for three years. From ages 16-19, I called that country home while my father served as the LDS Mission President of the England Coventry Mission.
More recently, my husband and I returned from serving as missionaries where he was the Mission President of the Oregon Portland Mission.
Living abroad, and living out of state, has broadened my perspective of the role that government plays in our lives. It has deepened my appreciation for Utah. There are so many things that our state does right. As I have created friendships with many from diverse backgrounds, countries, and circumstances, my desire to help Utah continue to be innovative and competitive has grown. We must empower our citizens to create and work. Government shouldn’t get in the way of those things.
Education is important and empowering. I was lucky enough to attended Davis County public schools in my youth. All of my children also attended Davis County public schools. As a mother, I have been privileged to volunteer extensively in local classrooms.
I received a Bachelor's degree in Piano Performance from the University of Utah in 1992. I went on to earn a Master of Arts in Piano Performance and Accompanying in 1994 from that same university. For more than 23 years, this has given me the opportunity to teach neighbors and their children piano lessons in my home - where I have maintained a successful studio. I was also an adjunct faculty at the University of Utah for several years.
My family, the Robert and Katharine Garff family, run the elementary school reading program: “Road to Success.” They also created the high school attendance and academic excellence program, “Keys to Success”, in addition to "Code to Success" which is helping to prepare our future workforce. These programs help strengthen public education in our state. As a family, we have invested extensive time and resources to k-12 and higher education. Every cent is worth it. The future of our communities lies in the education of our children and our neighbors.
I am proud to say that I'm a member of the Davis County Chamber where I sit on the Legislative Affairs Committee. During the 2018 legislative session I attended meetings and caucuses 2-3 days a week. We worked extensively with our Davis County and Weber County legislators, discussing how specific bills would benefit local businesses and families in Davis County. This experience helped me understand many of the challenges and opportunities facing Utahns today.
Leadership Experience and Community Outreach
I was the first female student body president at South Davis Jr. High. That experience, however small, lit a fire in me. I knew that I wanted to dedicate myself to helping others. At that same time, my father was serving as the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives. I spent years watching him dedicate immeasurable time and energy to the Utah Legislature and numerous community boards. I also watched my mother give countless volunteer hours to our schools and the boards on which she served.
When I graduated from the University of Utah, I chaired the “Take a Seat” Campaign. This allowed me the opportunity to become the founding chair of an advisory board that I had created in the Department of Music. Through this board, the department quickly developed into a School of Music with newly found support from the community. I also created a yearly fundraising community gala for them, now known as the Camarata Awards.
I have also served on the Advisory Board for Salt Lake CAPHead Start for six years, helping them create their incredibly successful yearly fundraising gala. This gala supports hundreds of “at risk” children whose families live below the poverty level. Through this service, I also created their first university scholarship for students who began their education at Head Start.
My husband and I have supported many charitable organizations including Utah Youth Village, Ouelessebougou, Hale Center Theatre, Choice Humanitarian, Engage Now, Unitus, Ken Garff Road to Success, the American Heart Association, and, most notably, Head Start, The Forever Young Foundation, and the University of Utah.
For ten years I have also enjoyed volunteering and being a leader for the Boy Scouts of America. Six of those years I assisted my four oldest sons to prepare and deliver over 3500lbs. of school supplies and books to schools and orphanages in Ghana, Africa, through the Forever Young Foundation for their Eagle projects.
Through my various community volunteer and organizing activities, I was honored to receive the Heart and Hands Award for Utah Philanthropy Day in 2002.
I know that time helping others is time well spent.