Her acting career has included film, theater and television. She is best known for playing the role of Carol on the political drama “The West Wing”. Her film roles include: This is Not a Test, Simple Things, Monument Avenue, Frequency, and Love and Sex. She is currently starring in the web series Chasing The Hill – chasingthehill.com .
Earlier in her theatrical career, Melissa attended the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse School of The Theatre, where she studied with Sanford Meisner. Melissa worked closely with Israel Horovitz on his plays North Shore Fish and Stage Directions, and also starred in the Los Angeles premiere of Graham Reid’s modern Irish classic, Remembrance, with James Gandolfini, produced by Sean Penn.
Throughout her life Melissa has been dedicated to community service and outreach. In 1995 she co-founded Voices in Harmony, a non-profit youth arts organization committed to empowering at-risk teens by cultivating personal, academic, and artistic excellence.
Melissa served as Goodwill Ambassador and Board Member for the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC), and traveled to South Africa with IAPAC volunteering to assist people living with HIV/AIDS.
Melissa is currently involved in advocacy and outreach campaigns promoting peace in Northern Uganda and Central Africa. As part of the campaigns, she’s spoken several times on Capitol Hill. In the summer of 2006 she traveled with International Medical Corps as a volunteer to war-torn northern Uganda to work with IMC’s gender based violence program and with malnourished children and their mothers. giving birth to Hope Not Lost, an award winning short film she produced documenting her experience, narrated by Martin Sheen. In 2007, she traveled back to northern Uganda as the producer of the award winning feature film, After Kony – Staging Hope, a documentary that follows Voices in Harmony as they take their unique theater program to northern Uganda. The result is a compelling film illuminating the situation facing teenagers in northern Uganda. Melissa has partnered on this project with two respected Humanitarian Organizations The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and International Medical Corps (IMC). www.afterkonythemovie.com
Melissa is co-executive producer of Halfway Home, a documentary that weaves the personal stories of warriors’ life altering accounts from the battlefield with their often painful efforts to reintegrate back home. Halfway Home features Senator Max Cleland and is narrated by Martin Sheen.
In addition to her own organizations and projects, she is passionate about lending her support to others. She was a spokesperson for Environmental Alliance, a political organization designed to educate voters about environmental issues. In 2004 she traveled to battleground states carrying the organization’s message to prospective voters as part of the Women’s Tour for The Environment.
Melissa represented the International Medical Corps at the Live 8 Concert and the G8 Summit as part of the ONE Campaign to end poverty. Major media coverage of Melissa’s work with the ONE Campaign included CNN, BBC Radio, NBC, CNBC, People Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and others.
In 2012 and 2008, Melissa campaigned for President Barack Obama including appearances at fundraisers and rallies in CA, CO, PA, VA, NH, FL and DC. In 2004, Melissa served as a spokesperson for Environment 2004 (E04), traveling to the Democratic National Convention and battleground states to educate voters on environmental issues and the impact of their votes. Melissa participated in the 12 Days To Change bus tour on behalf of the Kerry campaign. In 2004 and 2006, Melissa traveled her home state of Pennsylvania as a surrogate speaker with Governor Edward G. Rendell, sharing the podium with President Barack Obama, Vice President Al Gore, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Robert P. Casey, Congressman Patrick Murphy as well as other notable political voices.
She has served as a guest teacher for Teach For America.
Last year, Melissa joined fellow artists Martin Sheen, Matthew Perry, Harry Lennix and Trey Anastasio on Capitol Hill to advocate for Drug Courts and Veterans Courts as part of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference.
In 2007 Melissa won a New York Times writing contest, Your Turn To Tell the Story sponsored by Nicholas Kristof. She has written pieces that can be found in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and the book, The Enough Moment by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle.
Chestnut Hill College awarded Melissa with the Gold Medal when she gave the commencement address in 2008. The Girl Scouts of southeastern Pennsylvania gave her the “Take The Lead” award.
Melissa received her BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania and currently resides in Los Angeles.
(The films ‘After Kony – Staging Hope’ and ‘Halfway Home’ are available for screening in addition to an appearance by Ms. Fitzgerald)
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