Melissa is a Clinical Professor of Law at Emory Law School and Executive Director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center, a multidisciplinary child law program seeking to promote and protect the legal rights and interests of children involved with the juvenile court, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems through advocacy in courtrooms, classrooms, and at the Capitol, and to prepare the next generation of child advocates.
In that role, she is responsible for the administration of the Center, directing the public policy and legislative advocacy clinics, and teaching related courses in child welfare law and family law. Melissa has contributed to the drafting and passage of dozens of pieces of legislation, including the 2013 Juvenile Justice Reform Act which comprehensively revised and modernized Georgia’s Juvenile Code. She is a frequent presenter and has authored several publications on juvenile law topics. Before accepting her faculty appointment, Melissa served as Georgia’s Child Advocate, the state’s child welfare ombudsman, and she has held previous positions with Georgia’s Court Improvement Project and as a practicing attorney focusing on adoption, juvenile court, and assisted reproductive technology cases. Melissa was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve as a member of the Child Welfare Reform Council, Commission on Family Violence, and State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. She is the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Multi-Agency Alliance for Children, a member of the Board of Directors for the nsoro Foundation, an advisor to the Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children and to ChildKind, Inc., and a member of the Policy Committee of Voices for Georgia’s Children. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois.
Family First and Prevention Act