Melanie Toarmina Pang is one of those Houstonians with boundless energy. The 31-year-old has served as the co-chair of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee for two years and has been integral in making Houston a welcoming place for LGBTQ visitors and residents long before that.

“I believe that in order for Houston to live up to its fullest potential, it will require inclusivity like no other and a culture shift-- the kind that demands a lot of focus, strategy, and patience,” said Melanie.

Her determination to make Houston a better place for everyone also spills into her professional life. She is the Manager of Emergency Disaster Services for the Salvation Army of Greater Houston. In this role she focuses on helping people through challenging times like Hurricane Harvey and other unexpected disasters that can impact their daily lives.

“I love Houston so much I took a job in emergency disaster services because I wanted to take care of my city,” said Melanie.

Melanie was born in Missouri City, TX, a suburb of Houston. She is the fourth child of immigrant parents. She moved inside “the loop” to attend the University of Houston where she received both an undergraduate and Masters Degree in social work. One of her favorite things about Houston is Houstonians!

“Houstonians, come hell and/or high water, we take care of each other,” said Melanie.

As a native to the area, Melanie has a lot of favorite neighborhoods and places. “I grew up on dim sum at places like Ocean Palace in Houston's Chinatown. Montrose was my first love; it raised me from a baby queer to the all-out rainbow I am today! Downtown is booming now with parks and restaurants, and Third Ward is home to Project Row Houses, one of the coolest community and art collaboratives I've ever seen, and two great universities, The University of Houston and Texas Southern University.”

Melanie recommends that when people are visiting Houston they consider eating all that they can and then make an exercise plan for later at places like Dance House Fitness, CrossFit Yellow Rose, or walk around Discovery Green

And for those that have just moved to the city and are feeling homesick, Melanie offers sage advice, “Be patient. If you don't love it yet, order some tacos and/or $3 banh mi, crank up the Beyonce and just wait. You'll be one of us in no time.”