Faces of AWNY: Meet Mel Slade

Here at AWNY, we love to champion the impressive Aussie and Kiwi women in our community and also, help to shine a spotlight on our committee members. This month, we’re introducing a new face among us that some of you may even recognize from your TV screens back home! Originally from Melbourne, Mel Slade and her family saw an opportunity for adventure and took a leap to make the big move to New York City in the fall of 2021. She’s a successful on-air TV journalist, corporate communications expert, business owner, and now, marathon runner—and now a part of our wonderful communications team here at AWNY. Let’s spend some time getting to know, Mel.

Tell us a little about your background and career in journalism back in Australia?
Before I moved to NYC, I was a Corporate Communications Leader at Bunnings while also working as a TV journalist on the Weekend Today Show for the past 8 years.

Initially, I was at Channel 9 full-time at the start of my broadcast career, then moved to Network Ten. After having my first daughter, Lola, I went freelance and started my own business. That’s when I became a regular fixture on the Weekend Today Show. I covered everything from natural disasters, crime, politics, major events, court, scandals, and everything in between.

One of the most memorable moments was meeting Sarah Jessica Parker on the red carpet in Melbourne. Normally I don’t get star-struck, but on this occasion, I was an uncool, fangirl! At the end of the live cross, before throwing it back to the studio, I said “thank you, Carrie Bradshaw” (it wasn’t even a SATC movie). She was gracious, forgiving, and a total pro! And in true Aussie style, I was the butt of jokes for days. It’s funny because my love affair with NYC actually started in high school and at uni watching SATC. I never imagined I’d live here…

What prompted you to make the big move to NYC in the middle of the pandemic?
After countless COVID lockdowns in Melbourne, we decided to seriously consider our options as a family. With two kids in primary school, we thought it was the perfect time to go on an adventure. My husband is a co-founder of a US sports media and technology business (which launched just before the pandemic hit), so New York made perfect sense. We started the conversation in August 2021, and, after jumping through hoops, we were on a flight (a very empty one!) by November 8th to the U.S.

What do you miss the most about Oz & how do you manage to balance homesickness?
We miss our friends and family the most for sure. And coffee…definitely a good Aussie coffee. And the ocean. And drivers/cyclists who obey traffic signals. Seriously, are red lights here just a guide? In terms of connecting to things that make us a little less homesick, the kids and I eat Vegemite toast every morning for breakfast. We also try and keep in touch with friends and family as often as possible. The Australian network here is pretty incredible too, so we’re lucky to have friends here—both old and new.

How have you found the transition to working here in the US and what have you been up to? I’ve been doing some communications consulting, but after getting us settled, training for a marathon, and taking some time off to recharge the batteries—I’m ready for a full-time gig. I’m really excited about this next chapter of my career, and can’t wait to see where I land in New York.

So in your move from Melbourne to NYC, which neighborhood did you land in and how did you find the apartment hunting process?
We’re living in Manhattan on the Upper East Side and really loving it. The benefits are fantastic—it’s a really family-friendly neighborhood, there are great schools in the area for my kids, and it’s close to Central Park for that fix of nature and green space. It checks all the boxes!

Finding somewhere to live was challenging (that’s an understatement…for us, getting a rental here was harder than getting a mortgage back home!) We didn’t realize it at the time, but the application process for an apartment in a Co-Op building is VERY involved. Enough to give you high blood pressure and grey hairs. After submitting 65 pages and bribing the kids with Maccas to get through a Co-op board interview—we signed a lease.

What’s your biggest achievement since living in NYC?
Can I have 2, please? Firstly, getting the kids into school and seeing them make friends, learn and adapt to a new lifestyle has been incredible. We are so proud of them.

And secondly, I recently trained for and then completed the New York Marathon. The first 25-30km were great, but then the last bit was horrendous. But you know, what? I made it! And call me crazy, but I plan to do it again in 2023.

Living in NYC with kids is go-go-go, what do you like to do in your spare time?
We spend a lot of time at the playground! Our favorites include Heckscher Playground in Central Park, the playground at Battery Park, and the incredible Domino Park development on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I also enjoy running and Central Park and along the Hudson River are my go-to spots. I’m actually looking for some running buddies so if you’re keen to go for a trot, have a chat, and have a coffee, then get in touch!

How have you found the Aussies that you’ve met so far here in NYC?
All the Aussies we have met here are absolute legends! They have been incredibly generous with their support, time, and advice. Some helpful gems include:

  1. Everything here is a process (getting a phone, bank account, SSN, etc.) so allow extra time and be patient.
  2. Go to networking events even when you don’t feel like it.
  3. Winter is dry and cold so buy a humidifier.
  4. Amazon will change your life! Buy everything online and get it delivered (including Vegemite in bulk!)

Now you’re a year into your NYC journey, what are 3 must-know tips for friends visiting?
1. Wear comfy shoes, walk as much as possible, and you can’t always trust the blue dot in maps!
2. Some of the best things in this city are free(If you’re having a heart attack doing the AUS/USD conversion) the New York Public Library and Bryant Park, Belvedere Castle in Central Park, and the Staten Island Ferry are all excellent visits.
3. If you need help or advice while you’re here then you can always rely on the network of Aussies

We know you’re still new, but what’s been your favorite part of being an AWNY member?
I am fairly new (I joined in the late summer of 2022) but I love it! Meeting amazing women and hearing their stories is the best part. I am also looking forward to using some of my journo skills to help shine a light on interesting and impressive Aussie and Kiwi women here in the city to share via the AWNY website and on social. Stay tuned!

To get in touch with Mel, follow her on IG @melanieslade.

Author: Sarah McLellan Mee

Sarah is originally from Bundaberg, Australia and moved to NYC at 17 (over 22 years ago). Initially she worked as a dancer and singer on Broadway (42nd Street, Queen's We Will Rock You) and then toured around the world in a critically-acclaimed rock band. Transitioning from performance, she moved into the digital media world—mainly focused on clients in the travel and food space. Sarah has worked as an editor, agency social media strategist, VP of Marketing for a major restaurant group, and as branded content editor for Bon Appétit magazine and other publications at Condé Nast. Sarah lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with her husband Chaz and their one-year-old daughter, Alula.

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