There is a new President and CEO at the SouthCoast Community Foundation, but Melanie Edwards-Tavares is New Bedford, through and through.

Edwards-Tavares started in her new post in September, leading the region's largest philanthropic organization.  The New Bedford native joined Townsquare Sunday to discuss her return to her hometown and future plans for the Community Foundation.

Edwards-Tavares started at a young age carrying about the needs of others.

"I grew up in United Front Homes with my mom, and we had an apartment were young people would come in and out," she said. "It was a place to eat and laugh and enjoy company. It was also an opportunity for us to start thinking more about ways we could shape young people in our community."

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As a single mother, Edwards-Tavares earned degrees at Bristol Community College, Lesley University and Southern New Hampshire University. In 2019, she received her doctor of education leadership degree from Harvard.

Edwards-Tavares has a 30-year career working for and with non-profits, including the Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass., Child and Family Services and PACE-Youth Build. Her most recent stop was the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving before returning to New Bedford.

What kept her going?

"The further I went along in my career in the non-profit sector, the more I realized what I didn't know," she said. "Continuing my education helped me discover what were the origin stories around many of the challenges our communities were facing."

Last year, the SouthCoast Community Foundation provided grants to more than 150 non-profits.  Edwards-Tavares said the foundation will stick with its current priorities: humanitarian, culture, and education, but she welcomes the opportunity to join in a new planning process in the year ahead and build on the good work that's already started here.

"I'm so happy to be home," she said.

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly community affairs program heard Sunday mornings on WBSM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make the SouthCoast a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please email the host at

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