Melissa graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1991 with an honors BA in Integrated Ecology and graduated from UC Davis in 2000 with a Ph.D. in Ecology. For the past 25 years, she has served as the Executive Director and President of The Cultural Conservancy, a non-profit Indigenous rights organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of indigenous cultures and their ancestral lands. Melissa completed her dissertation, "Toward A Postcolonial Ecology - Native Americans and Environmental Restoration," and completed her Ph.D. in 2000. Melissa's long-term goals include educating people about the importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) systems and facilitating inter-cultural dialogue between local communities and environmental groups and land management agencies. Melissa has been involved with volunteer restoration work and grassroots coalition building among the Native American and environmental communities of the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a former Switzer Environmental Leadership Award recipient through The Cultural Conservancy for her El Polin Springs Restoration Planning Project (2000-2001 Leadership Awards). In 2002, Melissa was hired as an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University where she teaches classes on Native Science, Ecology, and California Indian history and contemporary cultural restoration.
Fellow at a Glance
The Cultural Conservancy
Land, Open Space, Smart Growth
Natural Resource Management
San Francisco, California 94129