Melissa has 25 years of experience working with local, regional, and state government. After earning a degree in Geography and Graphics from Concord University in Athens, WV, Melissa started out as a GIS professional for a metropolitan planning organization in Michigan in the 1990s. She then moved closer to home to serve as a project manager for Anderson & Associates and worked with local governments throughout Virginia. For the last 15 years Melissa has worn many hats while serving rural West Virginia communities as a planning/zoning administrator, GIS coordinator, floodplain manager, and local advocate - working with state and federal agencies to promote communication and coordination of regulatory efforts.
Melissa’s specialty is helping communities work smarter by utilizing technology, science, and data to visualize and understand their issues, guide their policy decisions, and create cooperative interdepartmental and inter-agency workflows. Her creative thinking and common-sense solutions to difficult planning problems is evidenced through her work on comprehensive and strategic plan updates, zoning, subdivision, and other ordinance revisions, conservation easement preparation, floodplain management policy, building permit and code enforcement procedures, and GIS database design, analysis, and modeling. Her passion is educating rural and agricultural communities about the benefits of proactive planning and helping them improve their quality of life by finding ways to promote smart growth while preserving their cultural and ecological resources.
Melissa has been a Certified Floodplain Manager for 12 years, and has served as a board member for several state and local organizations, associations, and committees. In 2016 she was awarded the first “Joyce McConnell Award for Professional Contributions to Planning in West Virginia” by the West Virginia University Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic.