Melissa has loved animals and wanted to help them ever since she can remember. She has seen firsthand the impact good animal welfare and environmental stewardship has on the lives of us humans and believes that strengthening the connections between humans, animals and nature has the power to transform the way we address some of the greatest challenges facing the world today.
That’s why she has focused her career on placing the people closest to animals and their habitats at the heart of animal welfare and conservation work. Those who will be responsible for and affected by the results of a project for years to come should be the ones leading the way and having their voice heard.
Melissa worked on a range of animal welfare projects and programs around the world since 2005 including farm animal policy in the United States, outcomes assessment of animal welfare education in Austria, on-farm welfare assessment in Costa Rica, community conservation and rehabilitation of rescued gibbons in Thailand and a community-based project for working horses in southern Brazil. She has over a decade of experience engaging with stakeholders at all levels - from high-level politicians to farmers in rural Ethiopian communities - to help them harness their diverse skills and ideas to take collective action and leverage meaningful change for people and animals. Prior to joining IFAW, Melissa provided strategic oversight, technical support, and capacity building for international projects involving thousands of community groups across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East in improving working equine welfare alongside human livelihoods.
As Senior Program Manager for Community Engagement at IFAW, Melissa is working with communities and partners around the world, with work focusing on engaging local people in improving animal rescue and welfare systems, disaster risk reduction and mitigation of human-wildlife conflict.
Melissa has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Michigan State University, as well as a Master’s degree in Animal Science, focused on Behavior and Welfare, with joint specializations in International Development and Social Science from Michigan State University.
B.S. Animal Science, Michigan State University United States
M.S. Animal Science - Behavior and Welfare, Michigan State University United States
Specialization International Developement and Social Science, Michigan State University United States