Melissa joined the Collins Center in 2013 after moving to Harrisonburg with her husband. In March 2014, she transitioned to the role of Executive Director at the agency, and she works closely with the Board of Directors, staff, and multiple stakeholders to fine-tune existing programs while carrying out the goals and objectives of the agency’s strategic plan. Prior to joining the Collins Center, Melissa was Chief Operating Officer of Friends of the High Line, the non-profit organization responsible for the planning, funding, and operation of New York City’s High Line. She has extensive background in program management and non-profit capacity building, and she was named to Crain’s New York’s 40-Under-40 List in 2012 for her contributions to the High Line project. Her work in the field of violence against women dates back to her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa, where she worked on community development and women’s health initiatives from 2001-2003, including an anti-female circumcision campaign. Melissa has two young boys, enjoys gardening and riding her motorcycle, and is fluent in Swahili.
From Melissa: “Before joining the Collins Center team, I assumed the work of the agency was upsetting and depressing…the kind of subject matter that people discuss with their voices lowered and their eyebrows creased in concern. But despite the very real and concerning issues that the agency tackles, I’ve discovered at the Collins Center a staff of optimists who bring to work each day a sense of hope and a deep commitment to changing the culture of sexual abuse in our society. The resilience of our clients is both humbling and uplifting. The expertise and attentiveness of the professionals and partnering agencies with whom we work adds so much to our level of effectiveness. I’m honored to be a part of this team!”