Melissa Bertolo works for Welcoming America, a national non-profit organization that works to build more inclusive communities, where everyone, including immigrants and refugees, feel as though they belong. In her role as Certified Welcoming Manager, she is responsible for leading a new and innovative program that recognizes communities across the country for their policies, programs, and partnerships that meet a national standard for welcoming.
Prior to joining Welcoming America, Melissa gained national and international experience working on immigration issues. Most recently, Melissa served as the Welcome Dayton Program Coordinator where she was responsible for facilitating community efforts and developing cross-sector strategies to improve immigrants' and refugees' successful integration into the community. Under Melissa's leadership, Dayton became the first Certified Welcoming community in the United States and two of Welcome Dayton's programs received national recognition as a best practice by the White House Task Force on New Americans. She is tapped nationally for her expertise on the role of government in creating welcoming communities and has spoken at national, regional and local conferences.
Melissa earned her B.A. in Environmental and Social Justice from Warren Wilson College and her Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health from New Mexico State University. While in graduate school, Melissa worked in Quito, Ecuador on health projects the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Fundacion Ecuatoriana Equidad (an LGBTQ health services center). She also worked for the ACLU-NM Border Rights Office where she assisted with the investigation of an immigrant detention facility.
Melissa currently resides in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio with her husband, two sons, and 4 furry animals. In her spare time she enjoys running, reading, and cooking.