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Melissa Barlow of The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center Named to Global Leaders Program

By February 13, 2023No Comments

Melissa Barlow, Director of Arts & Community Programs at The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center, has been named to the 2023 Global Leaders Program (GLP). Each year, a select Cohort of global arts professionals is invited to participate in the MBA in Arts Innovation, focused on social entrepreneurship, cultural management, sustainable impact, and community development.

The GLP MBA is designed for arts change-makers seeking an enhanced toolkit to drive accelerated career growth and organizational impact. Cohort Members range from arts managers, entrepreneurs, and executives to concert presenters, producers, education leaders, teaching artists, creative performers, and more.

Barlow founded and leads MOSAIC (Musical Opportunities Supporting the Arts In our Community) at The Heights Center, an El Sistema-inspired after-school program that creates musical opportunities for approximately 50 youth in the Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers. She began playing the double bass at age eight and has performed with orchestras and ensembles throughout her career in some of the greatest performing arts halls worldwide.

“My passion for music and the arts began at an early age and inspired me to pursue a degree in music education,” said Barlow. “My vision to expand access to music to underserved communities brought me to Southwest Florida in 2015. Music and art’s power in transforming lives and strengthening our communities motivates me to keep advocating for equitable arts opportunities.”

“Melissa is a strong advocate for the Arts,” said Kathryn Kelly, Founder and CEO of The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center. “She is extremely passionate about music and its unique ability to transform lives. Melissa believes everyone should have access to the arts regardless of age or socioeconomic status. Her experience as a Global Leaders Fellow will provide more opportunities for arts to grow and impact our community.”

A native of Pennsylvania, Barlow came to Fort Myers to share her experience as a musician, educator, and arts leader with children and families participating in arts and cultural programs and classes. Her early participation in music excited her to go to school, provided her with scholarships to attend college, and enabled her to travel around the world, where she learned about other cultures while performing in many prestigious performing arts halls throughout the U.S. and abroad. Barlow believes in the importance of fostering an appreciation of the Arts at an early age and providing access to adults to participate in arts classes that they may not have had the opportunity to do when they were children. She earned her B.S. in K-12 Music Education and Double Bass Performer’s Certificate from Pennsylvania State University and her M.S. in Performing Arts Leadership and Management from Shenandoah Conservatory. Barlow was named a Gulfshore Business 40 under 40 in 2021.

With courses curated by nine top universities and think tanks from Harvard and Georgetown to Duke, the GLP’s innovative 12-month MBA journey is guided by a world-class faculty that includes Nobel laureates, Grammy winners, Polar Prize awardees, TED presenters, and an institutional network of dynamic field partners spanning 40+ nations.

Following a six-month review process involving hundreds of highly accomplished candidates worldwide, a Cohort of 70 exceptional arts change makers were selected to participate in the 2023 GLP Journey. The Executive Cohort spans 41 nations across six continents and includes organization founders, social entrepreneurs, conservatory leaders, concert presenters, career performers, teaching artists, media consultants, university professors, and doctoral researchers. 2023 Cohort Members represent Argentina, Australia, Belize, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Guatemala, Jamaica, Japan, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela.

To learn more about the Global Leaders Program, visit

For more information about The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center, visit To learn about the MOSAIC program, email Melissa Barlow at or call (239) 482-7706.

About The Heights Foundation and The Heights Center

The Heights Foundation works to build self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood.  Our mission is to support education and wellness, promote family and community development, and provide the benefits of enrichment and the arts. The Heights Center, supported by The Heights Foundation, is a place for Education, Opportunity, and Enrichment. Heights Early Learning serves more than 80 babies through 4 years old. The Heights Center serves 134 children in AfterSchool and SummerCamp. The Harlem Heights Community Charter School serves 180 children from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Harlem Heights was originally settled as a rural agricultural community. Approximately 780 children live in a mixture of single-family homes and multi-family apartments. Demographically, the population is approximately 70% Hispanic, 20% African-American, and 8% Caucasian. The poverty rate for children in Harlem Heights is more than twice the county average, with family income 40% below the county average. As a result, families cannot easily access family support services in downtown Fort Myers and benefit greatly from programs within the neighborhood.