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Melissa Weisse

President and Chief Executive Officer

Melissa walks outdoors toward the camera, smiling, with a yellow Labrador ambassador dog in green ambassador jacket walking next to her on leash

Prior to being appointed as president and CEO, Weisse served as the vice president and chief philanthropy officer and led the organization’s national philanthropy and fundraising strategy and execution. With over 20 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit leadership in the blindness and low vision community, Weisse has raised over $150 million dollars during her tenure, diversified and grown Leader Dog’s revenue streams and led the successful $14.5 million-dollar capital campaign for the new canine development center. She raised over $17 million dollars annually working with a team of dedicated fundraisers.

She oversaw Leader Dog's philanthropic efforts, including major and planned giving, foundation gifts, direct mail, annual giving, estate giving, donor relations and stewardship, and Lions clubs giving, which encompasses over 4,000 participating clubs nationwide. During her tenure as chief philanthropy officer, the organization’s philanthropic revenue grew 121% and estate revenue by 163% to grow and refine service provision for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Weisse is one of 117 people in the world to hold the designation of ACFRE, Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive, the highest professional accreditation for professional fundraisers.

Prior to coming to Leader Dog, Weisse was a private client advisor at Christies, London, the world’s leading art business, where she worked extensively with high-net-worth individuals and foundations in 46 countries and ten international showrooms. She has worked in Hong Kong, Singapore and Washington, D.C.

Weisse graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has a master’s degree from the University of Glasgow. She is a graduate of nonprofit leadership and fundraising programs at Georgetown University and the Lily School of Philanthropy at Indiana University Purdue University and the Non-Profit Executive Leadership program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Weisse sits on the Board of the American Foundation for the Blind and serves as Chair of AFB Resource Development Committee. She is a Board member and past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Detroit Chapter and has served on the Board, Ethics Committee Taskforce and the Finance Committee for AFP Global. Weisse is a member of Lions Clubs International. She was the recipient of Crain’s Notable Women in Non-Profits award in 2018 for women who innovate and lead in the social sector.