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Melissa Wasser Kappa Chi - Youngstown State University

Policy Counsel, ACLU of the District of Columbia

Delta Zeta Women's Membership Organization | Delta Zeta Sorority

Which of the Delta Zeta shared values resonates with you the most? Empowerment

How did you discover your passion for what you do, and what opportunities have helped shape your career?

I always loved helping people however I could, so when I went to law school, I started finding opportunities where I could help. This, combined with my passion for politics, led me to being a part of the Moritz Legislation Clinic during my last semester of law school, which directly taught me the skills I needed to be a better advocate while working at the Ohio Statehouse. The information I learned in Clinic (public speaking, different types of legal writing, legislative advocacy, etc.) have helped me in my career and gave me the confidence to do my job well.

Who has been an invaluable mentor for your professional career? What did you learn from them?

My college moot court coach, Ron Slipski, really made a lasting impact on me and my professional career. He was one of the first attorneys who believed in my capabilities and encouraged me to go to law school. He taught me how to think like a lawyer, how to speak with deliberate clarity and persuasive authority and how to become a better legal writer before I even was in law school. He has also been a guiding light and a source of support as I went through law school and started my career. I will be forever grateful to have had someone like him propelling me forward.

What words of wisdom or advice do you live by?

“If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien
I also live by the phrase: ”No is a complete sentence.” Sometimes, you need to know when to turn something down and protect your peace.

What is the most impactful book you have read, or podcast you have listened to, that relates to you professionally? What made it so impactful?

”Yes Please” by Amy Poehler and ”You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. Both books are filled with wisdom, stories and laughter that remind you to take what you do seriously but to not take yourself too seriously.
These books were so impactful to me as someone who was the first in their family to be in their field (law, policy) and didn’t have someone who I could readily ask questions to. Both books helped boost my confidence and reminded me of why I do the work that I do.

How do you make sure you stay connected with your professional network?

I am a big fan of staying connected with my professional network with LinkedIn. I also make sure to use my profile as a running list of articles, testimony and press clips so that I have a collection of the work that I do in each position.

How have friendships helped you professionally? Is there a friend (or Delta Zeta sister) that has been behind you every step of the way on your career journey?

Friendships have helped me professionally grow in my abilities and have been amazing support systems throughout my career. I got my first full-time permanent job in part due to Delta Zeta. I attended a networking happy hour in Washington, D.C. and met another Delta Zeta whose company was hiring for a policy analyst. We met at the happy hour and later, I followed up for coffee, and she made an introduction to the person who would later become my boss (thanks again, Katie!). I truly saw the power of sisterhood in action, especially at a time where I was struggling to figure out what to do next.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Bowling and playing Pokemon GO.