Allow us to introduce Melissa Ice, the Founder & Executive Director with The Net!
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Let us tell you a little bit about Melissa Ice.
Melissa graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a degree in social work and has been working with different NGOs locally & globally, serving people in poverty since 2002. She is currently the Founder & Executive Director of The Net, but prior to that, she served as a Missional Director on a church staff for 6 years. The Net recently launched a social enterprise and just opened their brick and mortar retail store called Worthy Co., which employs women survivors of trafficking. Melissa was named Fort Worth Business Press 40 Under 40 in 2017 and Fort Worth Magazine’s Best Philanthropist in 2018. She is married to her husband of 12 years and has two little girls, Rosie (4) and Justice (2), who joined their family through adoption.
Explain how COVID-19/ George Floyd's death has impacted you (emotionally, physically, finically, spiritually, and mentally) in a positive and negative way.
In some ways, I lost hope during the last 5 months. I wondered if racial bias would ever truly be uprooted from our country, where it has been so steeped in our society for hundreds of years. I didn’t trust our leaders who were sending mixed messages about how to protect our families and communities from this potentially fatal virus. I found myself asking God for answers. However, on a positive note, I saw my team excel in such uncertain times. I found something inside my mind and heart that felt awakened to being a daily ally versus one that dipped in and out due to the busyness of life and privilege of being able to do so. I saw the mission of the Worthy Co fulfilled, in that we paid our survivors the entire time they were unable to work. I got to spend more time at home with my kids, and despite how hard it was to be with them everyday, I loved being with them everyday.
Tell us about your company/occupation. What’s your biggest professional or personal accomplishment? Explain how you felt working towards it and how you felt when it was achieved.
I’m the Founder and Executive Director of The Net and now Co-Founder/Chief Vision Officer of Worthy Co. We exist to provide vulnerable people in our city with community, relationships, and now employment, through Worthy Co. I think my biggest accomplishments over the last few years is realizing that I’m not just a dreamer, I’m a doer. If I say for over a decade God has called me to pursue adoption, those dreams became actions that turn into my current reality in the Summer of 2018, and my family is forever changed because of it. If I go on a vision trip with my co-founder and we dream about what it would be like to one day have our own store and production space and to have the ability to employ survivors of trafficking, by golly, a few years later, I’m sitting in that building we bought and paid for. We are now doing exactly what we said we would do. And that feels good.
What was your childhood like? Describe your environment from your house to your neighborhood to your school. How did these experiences shape you and your future success?
I grew up without knowing my biological dad, and my mom pretty much struggled my whole life. She struggled with addiction, with keeping a job, and with failed marriages to unhealthy men. Instead, I was raised by my grandparents. Although my family had its fair share of brokenness, I found mentors around me to whom to look and organizations with which to be involved. I pursued my gifts of dance and theater, and I explored my faith by attending churches to discover more about God. Role models and mentors are all around us, we just have to be willing to find them!
Tell us about your inner circle (close friends, family, mentors, relationship). How does their support impact your success?
My inner circle are the people who I serve alongside at The Net, my neighbors, my pastor and wife, and fellow entrepreneurs in my city. My desire is to grow as a leader, as a mom, as a wife, and in my faith. All of these people have gifts and strengths that I can learn from, but also hold me accountable to pursue being the best possible version of myself.
List a few habits that a young person should start implementing to set them up for a successful future?
I think the most important thing you can do is a morning routine. Setting the intention of your day has a massive impact on the way you interact with people around you and the amount you are able to accomplish. When I wake up and spend time meditating and journaling, doing yoga, and writing down my goals for the day, after getting lots of rest the night before, my day goes well. When I don’t get much sleep, skip writing down my goals, forget to meditate and pray, my day inevitably suffers in some way. Success is not mainly about achieving big goals, but it's about the millions of small decisions that we make every single day.
Share a big mistake you made professionally or personally. How did you fix it and what did you learn?
A big mistake that I have made professionally is partnering with people whose values I do not align with (i.e. having a family first mindset, how we handle conflict, how we communicate, how to market a brand, how we divvy up responsibility, etc). Each time I have been upset professionally, it is typically because I partnered with the wrong person. People may be nice, kind hearted, fun, even a close friend, but that does not automatically make them good or easy to work with or partner with. Sometimes friends should just be friends.
What are you afraid of for girls and women in the future?
I fear that girls and women will find their value and worth online. That we will spin our wheels perfecting a perception and not a person. That we would care more about the right filter and editing a photo, rather than caring about our integrity, mental health, and character. I worry about a sexualized culture that is trying to normalize technology as a way to push our boundaries and make us feel like in order to fit in we should be willing to do things that make us uncomfortable. It’s not okay and not “normal” to do so, we are worth more!
If you could give your 18 -year-old self-advice about the adult you are today, what would it be?
Do the next right thing! Avoid being a “ME-Monster” at all costs. Look in the mirror every day and say, “Life is not all about you.” Give your life away, work hard, be reliable, serve the poor, mentor someone beneath you who is looking for someone to light their path. In the words of Micah 6:8, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”