Loyola Magazine

Meet Melissa Lees, Director of Loyola’s Women’s Center

A beacon of support at Loyola University Maryland, Lees is a confidential resource and advocate for students
Loyola cares about who you are as a person.

As director of the Women’s Center and Sexual Violence Prevention, Education, and Response coordinator at Loyola University Maryland, Melissa Lees serves as a confidential resource and advocate for students.

Melissa Lees
Photo credit: Tyrone Wilkens

A Guardian for Greyhounds

“I’m not teaching biology or the theory of physics, but I am a sounding board. I’m a confidential resource for any student on campus who experiences any form of sexual or dating violence. Students know they can yell, cry, dance, talk about whatever, and then continue with their day. I am honored to be that person and have that space where they can do that.”

A Holistic Approach

Lees emphasizes caring for the whole person as a pillar of her work. Her personal mantra revolves around self-care, finding joy, and supporting others in their healing journeys. “Witnessing students transition from being victims to survivors, owning their truth, speaking their own story, and embarking on their healing journey is indescribable.”

Empowerment through Education

Lees manages Loyola’s bystander intervention program, Step Up!, which hosts and oversees students conducting escalation workshops. “I always start my presentations talking about how students could have chosen to go to any other institution, and they chose Loyola. A big part of that is when they stepped on campus, they felt safe and welcome. Step Up! ensures that students continue to feel safe and welcome and provides the tools for them to be active and engage by our community standards.”

Advocacy Beyond Campus

Melissa's commitment to advocacy extends beyond Loyola, as she has been a senior advocate with TurnAround, Baltimore’s rape crisis and domestic violence agency for the past nine years. She also serves as a domestic violence advocate at Northwest Hospital's DOVE program. “I am able to help our students better because I work at the hospitals because I work with law enforcement.”


Cheering on the New York Giants, watching crime documentaries and The Jersey Shore, and caring for her many houseplants; she is a self-described “plant mom.”