Melissa J. Camba-Kelsay

  • Assistant Director
  • Center for Student Leadership Development
  • Phone: 401.874.2561
  • Fax: 401.874.5317
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 50 Lower College Road
    Memorial Union, Room 210
    Kingston, RI 02881


Melissa was born in Queens, NY and grew up on Long Island. It was during her time as an undergraduate at the State University of New York (SUNY) – College at Geneseo that Melissa realized her passion for working with college students. After completing her undergraduate studies, she took time to work professionally before pursuing her Masters degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University. Melissa has over twenty years of experience in the field of student affairs, working in campus activities, student centers, orientation, residential life, intercultural affairs/diversity initiatives, and leadership development. She has also presented workshops at professional conferences and served on boards of professional associations on both the regional and national levels. Melissa joined the CSLD staff in September 2009 and enjoys her time teaching in the classroom just as much as the her time spent on the challenge course. In Spring 2020, she decided it was time to be a learner again and eventually earned her second Master’s degree: MBA with a specialization in organizational leadership. She is also a Certified Professional Coach focusing on leadership development and diversity & inclusion coaching, and like the other professional staff in the CSLD, is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach.

Melissa is a Safe Zone Member.

Melissa’s CliftonStrengths: Arranger, Input, Maximizer, Relator, Intellection

Melissa’s Character Strengths: Humility, Kindness, Honesty, Humor, Teamwork

Ask Melissa about: LDR 290/Modern Leadership Issues, LDR 291/Rose Butler Browne/Women of Color Conference, LDR 412/Leadership Capstone option, general Leadership Studies Minor advising / Leadership Studies Minor Audits, NASPA/NUFP, CliftonStrengths Coaching


Melissa was a co-researcher with Dr. Annemarie Vaccaro in the Human Development and Family Studies department at URI, for a longitudinal qualitative study documenting the experiences of white students and students of color in the HDF 291: Rose Butler Browne Mentoring Program course. HDF 291 is designed for students who are interested in an exploratory and introspective look at the issues affecting women of color. Students explore cultural identity and leadership theories through readings and other media, as well as learn about a variety of issues, including historical perspectives, which continue to affect women of color today.


Certified Professional Coach, Academy of Creative Coaching, 2023

Master of Business Administration, University of Rhode Island, December 2022

Certified Strengths Coach, Gallup, 2020

Master of Science, Student Affairs in Higher Education, Colorado State University, 2005

Bachelor of Arts, English with a minor in human development, State University of New York – College at Geneseo

Selected Publications

  • Vaccaro, A. & Camba-Kelsay, M. J. (2018). Cultural competence and inclusivity in mentoring, coaching and advising. In L. J. Hastings & C. Kane (Eds.), New Directions for Student Leadership: No. 158. Role of mentoring, coaching, and advising in developing leadership (pp 87-97). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Vaccaro, A. & Camba-Kelsay, M. J. (2017). I Am versus I Will Be a great leader: Using critical race feminism to explore gender differences among college students. In C. M. Cunningham & H. M. Crandall (Eds.), Gender, Communication, and the Leadership Gap (Volume 6 in the Women and Leadership Book Series). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Vaccaro. A. and Camba-Kelsay, M. J. (2016). Centering women of color in academic counterspaces: A critical race analysis of teaching, learning, and classroom dynamics. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.