Penfield College Student Selected for Georgia Women’s Policy Institute


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Melissa Waller, a third-year student in Penfield College's counselor education and supervision Ph.D. program, was recently selected to participate in the Georgia Women's Policy Institute (GWPI), the signature advocacy program for the YWCA of Greater Atlanta.

Women from diverse backgrounds are selected to participate in the yearlong, intensive, hands-on experience to learn how to develop and support real-world policy proposals that empower women and girls in Georgia.

“The Department of Counseling in Penfield College is very proud of Melissa Waller's selection for the Georgia Women's Policy Institute,” said Dr. Arthur Williams, professor and former chair of the department. “Ms. Waller has long been an advocate for women's and family rights and is the epitome of what we want our counseling Ph.D. students to be. After she completes the Institute's program, she will be an asset towards moving policy proposals forward in the state of Georgia to empower women.”

As a Fellow, Waller will receive a valuable, meaningful and unique professional and personal development experience that includes intensive training based on a proven-effective curriculum, as well as skills development and hands-on experience in key issues impacting women and girls, the policy development process, issue research, advocacy communication, coalitions and effective strategies to implement statewide policy change. She will also gain access to mentors and presenters who are top issue experts and professionals in the policy field, as well as opportunities to learn from and join an impressive network of current and former GWPI alumni.

After graduating from the Institute, currently in its sixth year, Fellows continue to work as lifelong legislative advocates to activate their respective organizations and communities.

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 the YWCA of Greater Atlanta

YWCA of Greater Atlanta is a local chapter of YWCA USA and has been a voice for change for women and families in Georgia since its founding at Spelman College in 1902. The organization's foundation is built upon a history of mobilizing diverse groups of women leaders to identify community problems and advocate for solutions. To affect long-term change, YWCA of Greater Atlanta addresses the needs of women and girls at multiple levels, providing direct-services and programs in tandem with raising awareness and public policy analysis. By focusing on advocacy and social justice, health and safety, and education and economic empowerment, the organization works to improve the lives of women and girls and their families, and to create safer, healthier, more equitable communities in Georgia. For more information, visit

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