Having grown up literally “By the Dock of the Bay,” in Marin County California, Melissa left her comfortable roots at 18 to study accounting and economics at Northern Arizona University. Her choice of study and her life in her sorority kept her busy, but not enough to prevent her from meeting her future husband, Harry. She convinced the Chicago boy to move back to San Francisco after graduation to start their careers, her in public accounting and he in finance. Melissa had landed a position at a premier CPA and business management firm specializing in strategy for professional athletes and musicians. While she enjoyed working with some of the most famous names in sports and getting in backstage to see all of her firm’s clients, she learned a life changing lesson, she did not want to be a partner at a CPA firm.


Fast-forward a few years, Melissa & Harry moved to “The OC” for his job and she began to think about business school. Now as a finance and development executive, she enrolled in the MBA program at UC Irvine (where she graduated Summa Cum Laude), all while raising 3 young sons. Knowing she would have options to create any path she wanted after graduation, Melissa began observing a myriad of industries and roles to see what was most appealing.


One such observation stuck with her, why was there a stigma around working in non-profit? Why were non-profit organizations not attracting the best and brightest minds to solve problems that have been around for centuries? She also observed that non-profits, in turn, usually only lived up to the low bar in which they were viewed, almost proud of their martyrdom.



She had an epiphany… non-profit organizations have to be concerned with 2 bottom lines and are mandated with changing chronic and systemic inequities; they should have the most talented people leading them! She wondered if she took her business background to a struggling non-profit and infused a high performance and progressive culture along with P&L accountability, could she turn it around? In her nearly 6 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters (5+ as CEO) she grew revenue over 300%, was named a top place to work by the Orange County Business Journal (1 of only 2 non-profits given that distinction), reduced turnover to single digits and became the 2nd largest affiliate for Big Brothers Big Sisters in the country. Her tenure at Big Brothers Big Sisters capped off with two $10+ million capital projects and being the first ever non profit executive to be honored at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.


Now, she is President of Anonymous Philanthropy, providing inside knowledge of the operational effectiveness and strategic impact of philanthropy. Her goal is to revolutionize the social impact industry into one of the most respected sectors on the globe and to work side by side with philanthropists to help drive that change.