Melissa Thibodeau

Executive Director

Get To Know Me


As a Central-Florida native, I have always had a strong desire to empower people through providing knowledge and opportunities for growth. Part of this comes from having a family who was always embroiled in education. My mother was a teacher and my stepfather was a principal in Polk County throughout my childhood. My father was a college professor and my older sister is dedicated to providing higher education opportunities to the youth of Tennessee through her work with the Tennessee Higher Education Consortium. Naturally, this made me pursue an Accounting Degree when I went to college at the University of South Florida. However, my innate passion for learning drew me to take a high school teaching position after graduation back at the high school I graduated from. After spending six years teaching in the classrooms of Polk and then Highlands Counties, I fell into a position here at Heartland Rural Health Network as a Health Educator under what is now the iMAD Program.



During my time here, I have gone from Health Educator to Program Director of our Diabetes Program to Health Planning Director for the network to my current position as Executive Director. This position allows me to write grants to maintain current programs and bring new programs to our communities. It also allows me to be involved with community partners, learn about their organizations, and map out collaborations and partnerships that benefit everyone. My husband and I have two smart, amazing children. Our favorite activities to do as a family are dance parties, sing-alongs, and riding bikes. I try to read every night and I am always looking for book suggestions (so feel free to send any good ones my way). I also enjoy watching TV and drive my husband crazy with my constant need to point out song references.


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My Favorite Quote

“Be the person you needed when you were younger.” -Ayesha Siddiqi

My Current Jam



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