Melena Ballou Mayes

Melena Ballou Mayes

Research Associate

Citizen of the Cherokee Nation


tribal child welfare

Professional Biography

Melena first became interested in research and evaluation while completing her MSW. This passion grew as she assisted the program evaluation efforts for the Tribal Child Welfare Training Project at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa (OU-Tulsa); worked as a Research Assistant for the Center for Indigenous Health Research & Policy; and supported the focus group and publication efforts of the St. John's Health System/OU Community Health Assessment in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Melena desires to support Tribes and Native American organizations in their efforts to strengthen services for culturally diverse communities. She has a strong personal passion for Tribal child welfare and the Indian Child Welfare Act in particular, as she and her husband are in the process of finalizing the adoption of their two Choctaw foster children. She also has previous experience as a family case manager, teaching re-entry courses to incarcerated women, and coordinating homelessness and community projects. Melena enjoys traveling, watching movies, spending time with family, and is an avid bookworm.


University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, MSW; Graduate Certificate in Social Work with American Indians

Licensure / Accreditations