I received both my Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and my M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). My B.A. is from Oberlin College, where I majored in Slavic History and Modern Dance. My experiences include working in public health and education sectors in Washington, DC and Chicago respectively for over six years. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring at UIC’s Honors College. In this position, I teach freshman core classes in Urban Studies and & advanced seminars in qualitative methods, research development, career and professional goal planning, in addition to providing Honors Capstone advising. I have also taught several courses across other institutions, such as Urban Problems and Place and Leadership at North Central College in Naperville, IL. Lastly, I am the Co-Director of the Chicago Signature Honors Programming initiative, which involves developing and leading cultural enrichment programming.

My work and research focus is on communities usually absent in decision-making processes; seeking to combine theoretical and practical solutions for community development settings. I am both bilingual and bi-cultural, originally from El Salvador.


• Melendez, J. W., Hall, A. H., Kang, R., Slattery, B. (Vignette accepted for publication, 2015). Working title: A Portrait of CHATchat: Expanding a Pedagogy of Mutual Accountability to Mutual Caring. In J. Laker, R. Harper & J. Fried (Eds.), Supporting and Enhancing Learning on Campus: Effective Pedagogy In and Outside the Classroom. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
• Radinsky, J., Hospelhorn, E., Melendez, J. W., Riel, J., & Washington, S. (2014). Teaching American Migrations with GIS Census Webmaps: A Modified "Backwards Design" Approach in Middle-school and College Classrooms. Journal of Social Studies Research.
• Immigrant Use of Financial Services and Unmet Needs: A Survey of Mexican Immigrants in Chicago. National Appleseed, December 2008.
• Banking in a Global Market: A Financial Institution Guide for Offering International Remittances Services. National Appleseed, January 2008.
• The ABC’s of Funding Parental Involvement in Education: Opportunities Under NCLB. Chicago Appleseed Fund For Justice (CAFFJ), November 2007.
• Improving Pricing Transparency in International Remittance Markets: Focus Group Testing of a Pricing Transparency Strategy. National Appleseed, April 2007.
• Improving Parental Involvement in Illinois Under the No Child Left Behind Act: An Illinois Action Plan - School Initiated, Parent-Cultivated, Community Facilitated. CAFFJ, Jan. 2007.

Presentations & Lectures

Melendez, J. W. (2015). Participatory Budgeting in Chicago's 49th Ward: Critical Dialectical Tensions of Learning in Democratic Activity. Paper accepted at the 45th Urban Affairs Association Conference. Miami, Florida.
Melendez, J. W. (2014). Using a Dialectic CHAT Methodology Framework for Understanding Learning in a Participatory Budgeting Process. Paper presented at the 4th Congress of the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research. Sydney, Australia.
Melendez, J.W. (2014). Understanding Learning in Participatory Budgeting: Identifying Dialectic Tensions + Resolutions using a Discourse Analysis Approach. Paper presented at the 44th Urban Affairs Association Conference. San Antonio, Texas.
Melendez, J. W. (2013). Invited panelist on Citizenship Learning through PB. 2nd International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in the U.S. and Canada. Chicago, Illinois.
Radinsky, J., Melendez, J.W., Hospelhorn, E., Washington, S., & Butler, L. (2013). American Migrations Project: Using GIS interactive maps for classroom teaching and learning. Poster presented at the TechTeach UIC Conference. Chicago, Illinois.
Radinsky, J., Hospelhorn, E., Riel, J., & Melendez, J. W. (2013). What Should We Teach with Historical Census Data Visualizations? An examination of learning objectives for classroom GIS projects studying African American and Latino migrations. Paper presented at the 38th Social Science History Association, 2013. Chicago, Illinois.
Melendez, J. W., & Radinsky, J. (2012). Latino Immigrants Civic Engagement: Learning Civic Capacities through Participatory Budgeting. Paper presented at the DFI/IALHEA Conference and Diversity Research Forum. Chicago, Illinois.
Radinsky, J., Melendez, J. W., & Roberts, J. (2012). Do the Data Strike Back? Students’ Presentations of Historical Narratives about Latino Communities using GIS. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association. Vancouver, Canada.
Melendez, J. W., & Radinsky. J. (2012) Participatory Budgeting: Learning Civic Capacities through Democratic Activity. Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in the U.S. and Canada. New York, New York.
Melendez, J. W. (2011). The 49th Ward Participatory Planning Budgeting Process: Applying a CHAT lens to participatory planning. Poster presented at the International Society for Cultural Activity Research, 1st Ph.D. Student Pre-conference. Rome, Italy.
Melendez, J. W. (2004). Danya International, Inc: Older Adult Alcohol Education. Poster presented at the 132nd Annual Meeting & Exposition of the American Public Health Association. Washington, DC.
Melendez, J. W. (2002). LLEGO: The National Latina/o LGBT Organization, a Midwest Assessment. Poster presented at the Community Planning Leadership Summit for HIV Prevention, The Center for Disease Control & Prevention. Chicago, Illinois.

Invited Lectures:
MPS 501: Cross Sector Analysis. The Role of Community Engagement in Participatory Budgeting. Depaul University, School of Public Service for professor Ramya Ramanath, Ph.D., Fall of 2012. 2013 and Spring of 2013, 2014, 2015.
UPP 493: Gender and the City. Differences Between PB49 and the Developing World, Gendered or Otherwise, and their Implications for who Participates. College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago. Fall 2014.