Melissa Barlow Named Director of Arts and Community Programs

MBarlowHeadshotMelissa Barlow has been named Director of Arts and Community Programs at The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center in the Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers. Barlow is responsible for overseeing Gulf Coast Symphony’s MusicWorks! educational partnership at The Heights Center, developing arts and community programs for children and adults in the Harlem Heights, volunteer coordination and organizing annual outreach events.

“We are thrilled to have Melissa join our team,” said Kathryn Kelly, President and CEO of The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center. “Throughout her career, she has shared her passion of the arts and music education with many exceptionally talented students, regardless of socioeconomic status. With her experience as a musician, educator, and arts leader, she will further our mission to provide access to and develop arts and community programs for children and adults in the Harlem Heights neighborhood.”

A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Barlow has a B.S. in K-12 Music Education and a Double Bass Performance Certificate. She earned her M.S. in Performing Arts Leadership and Management at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia. Barlow began her professional career as a middle school string teacher and interned with Play On, Philly!, working with at risk youth as a teaching artist and administrative intern. She launched the MusicWorks! at the Gulf Coast Symphony in 2015 and was responsible for all aspects of program oversight including curriculum development, teaching, and program evaluation. She also served as the symphony’s Community Engagement Director where she oversaw educational programs throughout Southwest Florida. Barlow has performed throughout the United States and internationally.

For more information about The Heights Foundation and The Heights Center’s arts and community programs visit, call (239) 482-7706 or email

About the Heights Foundation and The Heights Center

The Heights Foundation works to build self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. The 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.

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. Families are not able to easily access family support services located in downtown Fort Myers, and benefit greatly from programs located within the neighborhood.