Melissa Picciola comes to LCBH with eight years of legal experience. She started her career at a large law firm and most recently has been with Equip for Equality. She also has experience providing legal trainings in a wide variety of settings including national, state and local conferences and meetings.
Melissa Picciola earned both her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Finance and her J.D. from the University of Illinois. After law school, she worked as an associate at McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Beginning in 2009, she worked as a staff attorney in the Public Policy and Abuse Investigation Unit at Equip for Equality. During her time at Equip for Equality, Melissa worked with a variety of issues affecting individuals with disabilities including access to community-based services such as employment; Medicaid payment structures and access to benefits; and increasing voter participation among individuals with disabilities.
As a member of the public policy department, Melissa advocated for legislation and regulations to advance civil rights of people with disabilities. Her activities in this area included drafting and presenting testimony at legislative hearings and other public meetings; submitting written comments to both federal and state administrative agencies; and writing and distributing fact sheets and action alerts to garner grassroots support. Melissa worked in coalition with other disability advocates on a daily basis and has presented on a variety of topics to various groups including the Association of County Mental Health Boards, the League of Women Voters, and the ARC of Illinois.
What three traits define you?
Passionate, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic.
What is your personal philosophy?
Try and do better the next time.
What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
Other than absolute necessities, I would say Burt’s Bee’s lip balm.
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
I have been blessed in so many ways, but the loss of a mentor/work colleague to cancer was challenging on a variety of levels.
What is the one thing you cannot resist?
Any type of good quality cheese.
What is your greatest fear?
This may sound strange, but my biggest fear is disappointing my parents. They have worked tirelessly to give me every opportunity.
Where is your favorite place to be?
Anywhere the sun is shining.
What is your favorite thing to do?
I love to go to baseball games (north or south side) and keep score.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
I have to say Italy, because I’m first generation Italian!
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
During high school, I worked doing bookkeeping at a company that owned over 100 fried chicken franchises in the Midwest. All of the invoices I processed smelled like fried chicken.
What does true leadership mean to you?
A true leader has the ability to energize others to work tirelessly towards a defined goal.
Which one would you want most – flying cars, robot housekeepers, or moon cities?
Robot Housekeepers—Rosie from the Jetsons was the best!
What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?
I have to say the smart phone. It changed so much of how we communicate and how we live.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I’ve always had an interest in going to culinary school; I love to cook.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would absolutely want to coach a professional basketball team.
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
To buy better hair products!
What are your three most overused words/phrases?
“To be honest with you...”
“I feel like”
How do you define success?
Any time I can make a positive impact on someone else’s life, I feel successful.
What is the best book you have ever read?
Ever, ever? I love to read, so this is too hard! A book that made an impact on me was Freakonomics.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Questionnaires make me nervous.