About Melissa

Melissa KaestnerI have many roots in media, music, and theatre, as well as a strong passion for all things community. I believe in the power of media, the arts, people, and collaboration when it comes to creating a strong society, whether it is at the local level or beyond.

I live in Ottawa and work as a consultant, office manager, writer, and bookkeeper for a number of local not-for-profit organizations and independent-focused arts-related businesses. Currently, I work exclusively with Kelp Music, MEGAPHONO, the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations, Propeller Dance, and the International Fundraising Consultancy. On a volunteer basis, I am chairing a committee that is focused on establishing a new organization in Ottawa — a music business learning/consultation/career hub for artists and music entrepreneurs (managers, publicists, booking agents, etc.). More information will come soon once we establish a website in early 2015. I am also on the board for Ottawa’s 25One Community, a social purpose property geared towards progressive or not-for-profit organizations and entrepreneurs that care about social change. I volunteer for the National Campus and Community Radio Association as a webmaster and content creator, and I maintain a list of Canadian Folk-Blues-Jazz Radio Shows. Finally, I am a regular participant and contributor at First Fridays Fundraisers, which is hosted by the International Fundraising Consultancy.

Radio and community media have been key career and personal passions for a long time. Although I must say, even though I love being behind the mic, it is the behind-the-scenes work that drives me. I am proud of coordinating the creation of the Community Radio Fund of Canada, where I continued on as executive director during its first five years. Prior to that, I was the first national coordinator for and launched the first office of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA/ANREC). I was also a volunteer at CHUO-FM, worked at CHRY-FM as Music Director, was CHSR-FM‘s first Development and Promotions Manager (Fundraising, Events, Sales, Promotions, Recruitment), and worked at WQDY-AM/FM as an on-air announcer and Music Director.

I am a huge supporter of all things related to volunteerism as well. Being a volunteer at CHSR-FM in Fredericton changed my life. I got a chance to be involved in pretty much every area of the station, and even started my own department. I learned so much, made many deep and long-lasting friends and connections, and had an amazing time all the while!

Music has also been a part of my life, ever since I started singing “Delta Dawn” in my grandparents’ living room at the age of three. Since then, I was in school bands (clarinet, flute, baritone sax) and sang in a short-lived rock/ska band called See Monkey in Montreal with people that went on to become the Planet Smashers. I am now an acoustic singer/songwriter, playing mostly to my cats in living room. However, while my own recordings are hard to come by, I have helped other independent artists over the years by organizing a few regional battle of the band competitions (in the Maritimes), developing and running a national project called Dig Your Roots, and working one-on-one with artists for tours, grants, bookings, and promotions. I am happy to return to those roots with my current work with Kelp Music and MEGAPHONO.

I discovered my love of theatre early on as well. I acted in several high school productions and a few university productions, but my passion, once again, lies behind the scenes. I started stage managing in university and, in many ways, have never looked back. I approach many aspects of my life much as a stage manager approaches a show — organized, detailed-oriented, ready to call the show, and always leaving the master script at stage left for the next person to use.

I also collect rocks, roast most of my vegetables, and live for the journey instead of the destination.

You can contact me directly at melissa.kaestner[at]gmail.com. I’m also on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.