Magazine editor always knew she wanted to go into publishing
Melanie Mullen Ward always wanted to go into publishing. “I just didn’t realize it for a period of time. In elementary school, I would write books and short stories for fun and in junior high and high school I was always on the annual staff. I always loved producing something that someone would pick up and enjoy reading.”
Ward now serves as editor for Mississippi Magazine, which publishes positive stories reflecting Mississippi’s traditions and heritage. According to the Mississippi Magazine website, www.mississippimagazine.com, it is “the state’s premiere lifestyle publication. We provide a view of the Magnolia State that showcases the finest Mississippi has to offer.”
Ward, 38, considers Greenville her hometown. “It is where I spent my formative years, it is where my father’s family is from, so it is near and dear to my heart.” But her family moved to Hattiesburg the end of her junior year. “I spent my senior year at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg.”
Ward attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned a bachelor of science degree from the College of Health and Human Science. “I was a graphic communications major prior to switching to child life psychology. I knew that I wanted to work in print/publishing, but during college I discovered the child life profession. A child life specialist is someone who counsels terminally ill and hospitalized children. During my eighth-grade year, I spent a great deal of time being hospitalized because my physician thought that I had cancer. Luckily I didn’t have cancer, but I was able to recognize the need for hospital-based counselors. I wish that I had remained in graphic communication, but the path that I took made me who I am today.”
After college, Ward spent many years of volunteer work where she always produced the newsletters or any of the print/media materials for the organizations. “While volunteering with the Junior League of Jackson, I spent three years heading up their publications. It was during my first year as editor of Mistletoe Tidings magazine that I realized how much I missed publishing and how much I loved every aspect of the career. I set a goal for myself that I would get into the field and be successful.”
Ward feels her work with the Junior League has been a deciding factor in her career. “They allowed me to come in and revamp all of their publications. A couple of the magazines that I produced for them were submitted for national awards, and the changes that I made received recognition by members of the league and the community. It was incredibly rewarding.” While working on the publications, Ward began freelance writing for any publication that would accept her work and soon after she began working full time for the Northside Sun newspaper and magazine. “I would be remiss if I neglected to mention a passion for what I do. It drives me and fuels me. I don’t feel as though I ‘work’ because I wake up every single day and enjoy what I do, and there aren’t many people who can say that have been able to do many things that I think are neat, like meeting amazing people like Sam Haskell, the television mogul, or Janet Gurwitch, the founder of Laura Mercier cosmetics.
Ward is married to Locke Ward, who was born and raised in Jackson. His grandparents, Sudie and Jack Schultz, owned long-time Jackson retail businesses Sudie’s and Hardwicks. “Many area residents have fond memories of Sudie’s.” The couple has a two-and-a-half year old daughter named Mary Pender and a black cocker spaniel named Scout (“yes, from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird-”).
When she’s not working at the magazine, Ward does volunteer work with the Mississippi Children’s Museum, producing their newsletter and working on their communications committee. “The Museum is going to be an amazing asset to our state and I am so proud to be a part of this venture. I still volunteer with the Junior League of Jackson. It is an amazing organization that does so much for our community that goes unnoticed.”
As if she’s not busy enough, Ward said she loves to run and tries to get in as many runs weekly as her schedule will allow. But her favorite pastime is spending a lazy day with her little girl and her husband.