Meet Advancing Justice Director Melissa Fitzgerald

In November 2013, Melissa Fitzgerald left a career in Hollywood to lead Justice For Vets, a division of NADCP focused on the expansion of veterans treatment courts. For three years, Melissa served NADCP’s Justice For Vets with enormous success, becoming a seminal voice in the movement to better connect justice-involved veterans to the benefits and resources they've earned, and helping to set the veterans treatment court movement on a course of growth and success.

As an actor, Melissa is best known for her seven-year role as Carol on the television series "The West Wing." But off-screen, she is widely recognized as a courageous advocate for people in need. Melissa is co-founder of Voices in Harmony, a non-profit mentoring organization that uses theater to work with underserved teens in Los Angeles. In 2007, Melissa traveled to war-torn Northern Uganda to bring the Voices in Harmony theater program to former abducted child soldiers and other teenagers affected by the region’s brutal rebel war. The Voices in Harmony program in Northern Uganda resulted in the award-winning film After Kony: Staging Hope. The experience opened her eyes to the lingering impact of war.

In 2011, Melissa co-executive produced Halfway Home, a documentary featuring Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Senator Max Cleland and Silver Star recipient and Iraq War veteran Sergeant Tommy Rieman joining other veterans in recounting their experience in war and their struggle to reintegrate and recover upon returning home. “Although most veterans are strengthened by their military service, my experience working on Halfway Home personalized the struggle of many veterans who are having difficulty reintegrating. I have followed the development of veterans treatment courts closely and know that there is no better way for me to be of service to veterans than by devoting myself to the expansion of these life-saving programs,” said Melissa. “I am deeply honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of Justice For Vets, and I look forward to expanding my role to serve all vulnerable people in need as the director of Advancing Justice.”

Melissa holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a guest lecturer at universities all over the country and has been published in The New York TimesThe Washington Post and The Huffington Post, in addition to the book The Enough Moment by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle. Melissa has made numerous media appearances on behalf of Justice For Vets and NADCP, including Hardball with Chris MatthewsMorning Joe, CBS Sunday Morning and NPR.

Watch:

Advancing Justice Launch

Elmo Helps Announce Advancing Justice

MSNBC's "Hardball" with Chris Matthews

UNITE to Face Addiction Rally

MSNBC's "Taking the Hill" with Patrick Murphy

3-Minute Storyteller