Penfield College Ph.D. Candidate Melissa Waller Selected for Two Atlanta-Area Leadership Programs


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Melissa Waller, a Ph.D. candidate in Penfield College's counselor education and supervision program, was recently selected to participate in two highly selective area leadership programs – the Atlanta Regional Commission's Regional Leadership Institute (RLI) and United Way of Greater Atlanta's VIP Training.

The Atlanta Regional Commission's RLI brings together leaders from across the region for a deep dive into local issues and effective leadership. The goal is to create a network of passionate, engaged professionals who will help Metro Atlanta address regional challenges.

The weeklong program, held each fall in Savannah, informs a diverse group of community, government, business and nonprofit leaders about the interdependence of the region's communities while preparing them to work collaboratively to address issues that cross geographic and political boundaries.

United Way's 10-week, 40-hour VIP Training program is designed to develop and enhance leadership skills and increase diverse volunteer participation in nonprofit board and leadership positions in Greater Atlanta. The program, offered each spring, summer and fall, gives participants the tools to serve as effective board members of local nonprofit agencies.

Workshops include fundraising, strategic planning, marketing, and financial and legal decision-making. Each cohort is limited to 25 individuals, and the selection criteria are designed to recruit a group of demonstrated leaders who are diverse in their ethnicity, profession and community service.

“Melissa's acceptance in these programs is a reflection of her demonstrated leadership skills and commitment to impacting her community,” said Dr. Caroline Brackette, associate professor of counseling, who has also participated in United Way's VIP Training. “I applaud her for answering the call to action that I pose to all students. I look forward to witnessing her carve a path to make a difference in her community and beyond.”

Waller, a national certified counselor and educator for the deaf and hard of hearing, earned her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in deaf education and elementary education from Michigan State University and her Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling from Mercer.

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer's English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, criminal justice leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology, communication, homeland security and emergency management, and healthcare leadership. Programs are offered on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County and Newnan, and online. To learn more, visit