Melissa Rieman, chair of the 2022 La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas gala and past president of the Friends of the UP Public Library, has been selected University Park’s 2022 Citizen of the Year.
Originally from Garland, Melissa attended Lakeview Centennial High School and then was a Rangerette at Kilgore College. After her time there, she attended SMU where she was on the pom squad, and graduated with two degrees, one in history and the other in public relations.
Following her graduation from SMU, Melissa became a teacher and taught dance, which eventually led to her becoming a drill team director. While she loved this experience, she decided to shift directions and ended up in the corporate world, working for TXU and Ingersoll Rand. This career change moved her to Atlanta for a few years, before she decided it was time to move back to Texas.
After looking for houses in the Dallas area for over a year, Melissa and her late husband, Russell, found the perfect home in University Park to raise their family in, close to Highland Park High School. Her family has lived in that same home for 19 years, and her two children grew up going to HPISD schools. Her son, RJ, attended HPISD through 9th grade, and then transferred to Trinity Christian Academy. He is an upcoming junior at Oklahoma State University majoring in business, and her daughter, Riley, recently graduated from Highland Park High School and will be attending SMU in the fall. Following in her mom’s footsteps, Riley also just made SMU’s cheer squad.
When her children were entering elementary school, Melissa was traveling a lot for work, and she decided to take a step back from the corporate world and help her husband run his business, while also joining the Bradfield PTA. Little did she know, this was just the beginning of a long résumé of community involvement.
In addition to serving on the PTA for both Bradfield and Highland Park High School, Melissa has chaired the Bradfield auction twice, was the President of her son’s Young Men’s Service League group, was the treasurer on the board of the Children’s Medical Center Women’s Auxiliary, is the Chair of the board for Fair Park, was the President of the Friends of the University Park Public Library and served on the Education Focus Group for the Centennial Master Plan project. She also started the Raider Challenge fundraiser at Highland Park Middle School and the Scots Challenge fundraiser at the high school. Melissa is especially proud of her role as the PTA President of Highland Park High School during the 2019-2020 school year, which was during the thick of COVID and such a tumultuous time for all students, especially seniors.
“I have an innate need to try and help,” Melissa said when asked what the most rewarding part of her community involvement is. “Although I may not be able to always make something better, I can always get other people to help, and there are so many people in this community who want to get involved.”
As a matter of fact, the community is one of her favorite things about University Park. She also loves that University Park is a well-run city, mentioning that the City attracts amazing residents because of how it’s run. She continued, “I have a lot of faith that the City will always make smart decisions even if I don’t agree with them.”
Melissa was stunned and honored when Mayor Tommy Stewart called her with the news. She humbly said, “We have a whole community of citizens of the year! I am just one of 800 people who could have been selected!”
After riding in the July 4 Parade, Melissa will be presented with a plaque and a special Citizen of the Year gift during a brief ceremony at the gazebo in Goar Park. The Citizen of the Year award was created by the City Council in 2005 to boost public awareness and appreciation for the many residents who work, often behind the scenes, to better the City’s quality of life.