Melissa grew up in South Carolina, where she attended the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina. She completed her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a Master's of Arts in teaching before moving to New York City. After moving to Bozeman, MT, Melissa completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with minors in museum studies and art history at Montana State University(MSU). While at MSU, she served as Director of the Exit Gallery for two years and was recognized by ASMSU as the Program Director of the Year in her final term. In her senior year, Melissa received an Award for Excellence for being one of the top forty seniors at MSU, and she was recognized by the School of Art as one of the outstanding graduating art students with the Bronze Pencil award. Her work at the gallery and the experience she gained in inventory and object handling during internships with local artists and MOR led her to pursue a career in the museum field.
Melissa became the Registrar and Collections Manager for the Division of the Humanities in 2021 after serving as Assistant Registrar for four years. At Museum of the Rockies, she is responsible for overseeing the management and care of the museum’s cultural history collection. Melissa manages the collection by processing and maintaining records for acquisitions, loans, and reproductions, and by cataloging and inventorying the artifacts in our care. She ensures the preservation of the collection by monitoring environmental conditions and performing Integrated Pest Management, and she furthers access to the collection through her work with exhibits, visiting researchers, outreach, and digitization.
In 2020, Melissa completed the Marlene Saccoccia Quilt Heritage Project during which she cataloged, rehoused, and digitized MOR’s collection of historic quilts and made them accessible through the Montana Memory Project. She added MOR’s collection of Yellowstone National Park souvenir postcards by Haynes Photo Shops to Montana Memory Project in 2021.