What It Takes: Michael Melton featured in the Washington Post

Michael E. Melton was raised in the projects in Kansas City, Mo., by a single mother, but he decided early on that he would not become a statistic. A part-time job cleaning a lab at the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration in high school exposed him to science and engineering. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, then went to law school. While practicing patent and intellectual property law, he invested in a chain of fast-food restaurants.

Thirteen years later, he is a partner in Norris & Melton, a Pennsylvania Avenue NW law firm, and co-owner of 20 Taco Bell and five Five Guys restaurants in the Atlanta area. MEM Enterprises, of which he is founder and CEO, employs 710 workers, and grossed $24.7 million last year. Melton, 51, has served three years as president of 100 Black Men of Greater Washington D.C., which mentored 11,000 young people last year, part of his effort to show young people from backgrounds similar to his that they can succeed.

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