Q&A with SEC African American Council Co-Chair Melissia A. Buckhalter-Honore
Feb. 7, 2024
To commemorate Black History Month, the SEC is spotlighting Melissia A. Buckhalter-Honore, a senior counsel in the Los Angeles Regional Office and a new co-chair of the agency’s African American Council (AAC). In this Q&A, Melissia shares her path to the SEC, her aspirations for joining the AAC, and her insights on Black History Month.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to the SEC?
A: I am a New Orleans native who moved to Los Angeles in 2007 after Hurricane Katrina devastated my beloved city. I have been a public servant working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other state and local government agencies. Before onboarding here at the SEC, I was a career criminal prosecutor. The SEC was appealing to me because I could still be a career prosecutor in civil enforcement matters. The quality of life here substantially exceeds that of other federal agencies, and I’ve worked at three now. I have been at the SEC for 17 years this June and a federal employee for 23 years. I have a passion for serving the public, helping others, and solving problems. The SEC is perfect for my passion.
Q: You recently became co-chair of the agency’s AAC. What inspired you to take on this leadership role and what do you hope to achieve this year?
A: I attended AAC meetings in the past and was inspired by Shawn Davis, the former AAC chair who is currently an AAC advisor. Shawn’s ability to keep the members engaged and her ability to plan programming that advanced the mission of the AAC was always an inspiration for me. What I hope to achieve this year is to continue to have programming that advances the mission of the Commission and continues to keep the members engaged and inspired. I plan to do that by scheduling speakers periodically to provide educational guidance on opportunities for advancement and leadership at the agency among other programming.
Q: What unique perspectives do you bring to your role as AAC co-chair?
A: I believe I bring the skill set of organization in logistics to my position as co-chair of the AAC. I have held this position in other organizations, and it has provided me with the unique ability to focus on planning, problem solving, and attention to details to preempt potential problems.
At the SEC, we emphasize the importance of mentorship, sponsorship and internships as conduits for creating personal and professional opportunities. Is there a person, experience or event that was pivotal to helping you get to where you are today?
Growing up, our family had a close friend who also was an attorney. I loved her confidence and intelligence. She inspired me to become an attorney. She was my mentor. I clerked at her law firm after my first year of law school and learned much about the law and much about practical, common-sense experiences. Because it was a small practice, I was able to receive hands-on experience with clients and problem solving. Those lived experiences were lessons in the law and in life in general. I’ll always cherish them.
Q: You have two children, ages 18 and 23. What advice do you have for them as young adults navigating today’s social landscape?
A: I constantly teach my children that mistakes are human, and we all make them. However, I also advise them to acknowledge their mistakes, take responsibility for them, learn from them, vow not to repeat the same mistakes, and always apologize without justification for mistakes. I believe this advice will help guide young people still navigating today’s social landscape.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
A: I would end world hunger and bring world peace. With all the resources we have in this world — especially in this country — there is no reason anyone, especially a child, should go to bed hungry. In addition, I would wave my superpower wand to bring world peace because there is too much suffering. It’s depressing when you’re powerless to do anything to stop it.