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DBT40 Honoree: Melanie Augustin


Executive Director,
Zip Code (Wilmington)

(Editor’s Note:  Melanie changed roles shortly after the DBT 40 winners were announced. She is now the managing director of business development for Epic Research in Wilmington.  This profile – and her award – is based on what she did at Zip Code Wilmington)

Introduction: Melanie Augustin has a passion for bringing out the best in everyone she meets. Under her leadership, Melanie has shaped Zip Code Wilmington into a premier coding school, offering not only technical educational training but also professional opportunities for its diverse student population.

What her nominator said about her: Under Melanie’s leadership, Zip Code Wilmington has seen a 400% increase in corporate partners, contributing to 91% of graduates being placed in paid positions within three months of graduation. She is dedicated to the well-being and success of the organization, its students and the greater Wilmington community, and leans on her experience as a lawyer to create and negotiate opportunities for the organization. Prior to Zip Code Wilmington, Melanie practiced employment law as an attorney at Littler Mendelson in Washington, D.C. 

Leadership examples:  Within the first 24 months of Melanie’s leadership, she was able to activate a small staff size (approximately 15 team members) to attain financial stability – achieving break-even – without reliance on fundraising efforts. Zip Code Wilmington is one of a few nonprofit coding schools that is self-sustaining. Since Melanie took the reigns as the executive director, she optimized a meager annual budget of $2.1 million and a small staff size to train 310 graduates. These graduates are collectively earning $7 million more per year than before attending Zip Code Wilmington and these same individuals are putting money back into the local Delaware economy.As companies modernize their hiring requirements – many no longer requiring a four-year college degree – Melanie is laser-focused on growing Zip Code Wilmington’s presence in Wilmington and its reputation across the country.

Community service: Melanie is an active member of the board of directors for the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping Delaware reinvent itself to become a better place for people to live, work and raise a family. Previously, Melanie sat on the steering committee for the Neighborhood House Empowerment Center, a center designed at a nonprofit community center in South Wilmington to help educate and empower local residents to improve their lives.

Favorite work moment in the past year?My favorite times at Zip Code Wilmington were our graduation/welcome events that we hold to celebrate one cohort graduating and to welcome the next cohort. All of our alumni are always invited and many attend. I love hearing about their promotions, successes, marriages, and babies that have all happened since graduating. Being in a room full of Zip Code Wilmington alumni is always magical for me. 

Where are you most at ease?At the gym. It’s meditative for me. I’m so focused on how many more reps I have left or how many more seconds to hold a plank that I can ignore all the other stresses of the day. 

Guilty pleasure?I can’t say no to caramel M&Ms or chocolate-covered gummy bears (yes, they make them covered in chocolate!).

What did you want to be when you grew up?When I was very young, I waffled between wanting to be the first female president of the United States and a telephone operator (I loved the headsets). My parents were understandably concerned by my uncertain ambition. By second grade, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.  

Family and education: My husband Dave and I have been married for 15 years. We have an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-year old son. I received my bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2002 from Franklin & Marshall College, and I received my J.D. in 2007 from William & Mary Law School.  

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