Speakers Melissa Howell
Melissa Howell

As Founder of GRPTHNK, Melissa leads the strategic development of upskilling ecosystems that drive investment, engagement, and equitable access to high-quality learning for underemployed worker communities. GRPTHNK is a learner-generated data center that strengthens the capacity for online instructors to upskill early-stage workers in vulnerable careers.

Melissa has 20 years of experience as a systems strategist working with a robust network of seers, thinkers and doers across 40 countries in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Through emergent, participatory and human-centered program designs and direct engagement, she has supported 400+ institutions, brands and their leaders in developing impact-focused solutions and transformative collaborations that revolutionize communities for sustainable growth. She has developed organizational strategy, conducted extensive research, strengthened learning communities and led production of 3 global conferences and a West African youth-led student summit, supporting multi-million-dollar African education program portfolios as senior consultant to Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, The ELMA Philanthropies and as the former Senior Director of Global Programs at the Africa-America Institute. As a consultant to The Ford Foundation, Frontline Solutions and W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Melissa helped develop communities of practice to partner with U.S. federal and local government agencies and improve on risk-tolerance levels towards social justice outcomes. On the Global Manufacturing team at Pfizer Inc., she led the packaging systems redesign across 13 European and American supply chains. Melissa serves proudly on the Board of Directors for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) and humbly as a community advocate through healing modalities in herbalism, Kemetic yoga and as a doula.

Melissa earned an MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She has an MBA, BS in Business Administration and BA in Spanish from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU).