Melissa Marcial was born in Brooklyn, New York to Puerto Rican parents who taught her that education was something to be valued and not taken for granted. At the age of thirteen, she was selected to become a member of Children’s Aid Society (CAS), an organization that offers support and guidance to students coming from urban, disadvantaged neighborhoods. While at CAS, Melissa’s passion for learning continued to grow as she was exposed to programs in art, health, and career development. The benefits she received from CAS motivated her to stay in school and advance her education so that she could give back to her community.
Melissa went on to obtain a Bachelor’s in Business Management and History from Stony Brook University, SUNY, as well as a Juris Doctor from New York Law School. At New York Law School, she became interested in immigration and real estate law, as immigration and lack of affordable housing are significant issues affecting the lives of many Latino families.
After graduating law school, Melissa took a position as an associate where she guided low-income, ethnic minority tenants in city-owned buildings through NYC’s Tenants Interim Lease program. Residents from buildings that successfully completed the program, by becoming economically self-sufficient, were given the opportunity to purchase their apartments for a nominal fee. Through this and subsequent legal work, Melissa has experience settling housing disputes, vacating tax liens, filing asylum and visa applications, and formulating strategies for class action litigation. Practicing law and assisting clients inspired her to pursue a career in public service.
The lessons she learned through her participation in CAS have remained with her and continue to fuel her desire to give back to her community. She knows, first hand, the positive impact that public service programs can have on people’s lives and she is committed to fostering growth in the Latino community through the development of affordable housing and urban renewal projects.
As a National Urban Fellow, Melissa hopes to enhance her leadership skills and acquire the public policy decision making skills necessary to have an impact on our country’s future generations. At her mentorship placement site, she is the Special Assistant to the City Manager from the City of Carson, California.