Melissa is an experienced conservation leader, responsible for developing and executing strategies, managing teams and ensuring results to address the world’s most pressing challenges to people and nature. Melissa began working with The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado Chapter in 2006, with a primary focus on innovative large-scale land transactions. From 2014 through 2017, she served as the deputy state director for the Washington State Chapter and then took on the role of managing director, Global Oceans Strategic Initiatives in 2018 and the global director of ocean protection in 2019. Currently, Melissa leads The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Bonds program that refinances sovereign debt for conservation and climate outcomes. Nature Bonds unlocks large-scale conservation finance through debt conversions, which are combined with participatory conservation planning and policy to help countries achieve ambitious Paris Agreement commitments and conserve 30% of the Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater and ocean biomes by 2030.
Prior to coming to The Nature Conservancy, Melissa was an attorney in commercial litigation practice at firms in New York and Colorado, and she served as a law clerk in the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York. She received her J.D. from Cornell Law School and her B.A., with honors, from Indiana University, with a triple major in political science, history and economics.