During 2005-2009, Melody provided services to traditionally underrepresented groups of elders and youth. Through research and planning the need for youth development camps and basic computer literacy training programs were identified and developed for residents within the community. Melody's start to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives started with The Uncovering Southwest Raleigh project that launched in 2012 as a collaboration between the City of Raleigh, NC State University, and the Southwest Raleigh community. As a community researcher, she learned the importance of research, benchmarking, competency models, and program development all necessary skills that she brings to her diversity consulting services. Contributing to this firm means that you will also be contributing funds to support mentorship, development, and financial literacy initiatives for underprivileged youth both, locally and globally.
Energy, ambition, and passion are terms to describe Melody's professional career trajectory. After graduating North Carolina State University in 2013, with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and Community Development, she obtained a Master of Legal Studies degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She committed herself to upward movement at Legal Aid of North Carolina, working on a number of projects including: staffing the Affordable Care Act Helpline for North Carolina residents, recruiting pro bono attorneys for the Lawyer on the Line program, and hosting a televised Call-for-All day coordinating volunteer attorneys to provide legal advice to callers statewide.
In 2016, she accepted a position at Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, developing a project under the Legal Service’s Corporation Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a federal grant. This grant combines innovative remote technology solutions with legal services providers to expand the reach of legal services in rural counties in upstate New York. Here she developed and fostered an interest in anti-discrimination laws such as: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972.
"Pursuing my own project at LASNNY was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I was excited about this opportunity because it combined my interest in technology, public service and law. To participate in developing one of the first innovative, remote pro bono programs, that is now being replicated by law firms, law schools and bar associations throughout the country is an honor. I have had the privilege of working with amazing advocates from all walks of life and diverse practice areas by recruiting attorneys from places such as New Zealand, St. Kitts, The Netherlands, and Pakistan, to provide legal services to litigants in urban & rural counties in New York State. "
Melody has worked relentlessly to develop and expand projects and as a result, has held numerous leadership positions within and outside of the firm including, Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Officer and Interim Private Attorney Involvement Director.
As a result she has led presentations and workshops at the following conferences:
She also serves as the Program Manager of the City of Albany Community Police Review Board at Albany Law School Government Law Center.
Harkness takes the lead role in providing substantial services to assist the Board in fulfilling its mission, including managing the Board’s work, processing complaints, overseeing students’ research, and participating in community outreach and education.
Albany County Bar Association (non-attorney member)
Capital District Black and Hispanic Bar Association (non-attorney member)
Capital District Women's Bar Association (non-attorney member)
Former CDWBA LGBT Committee Member
Society of Human Resources Management
Former Advisor to Support the Port, Inc.