Melissa Centers currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the State Auto Insurance Companies where she is responsible for Associate Relations, Compliance, Legal and Internal Audits. Melissa joined State Auto in August of 2006 and landed in her current position after playing a number of roles within the company in the program management, agency operations and legal departments.
Melissa’s prior leadership and consulting roles include responsibility for insurance strategy, public relations, corporate communications, government affairs, information technology, vendor management, and project management for companies including Nationwide Insurance, Worthington Industries, Chase, and Verizon Wireless.
Melissa earned her juris doctorate from Capital University Law School and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Organizational Communications from Wright State University.
She is passionate about education and the underserved, is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for the Thurber House and is a regular instructor of creative writing and business storytelling workshops. She lives in downtown Columbus with her boyfriend and two “lucky” black cats.
Why are you passionate about the Homeport mission?
The Homeport mission is special to me because of its focus on stability. It’s not just about a roof over a head, but creating an environment where families can grow and prosper together – all while living with a feeling of safety and stability. I believe that is something that many of us take for granted – and something everyone deserves to have.
What would you tell a friend who was considering getting involved with Homeport as a donor or volunteer?
First, I would tell them to take a bus tour. The mission is most visible in the communities that Homeport serves. When you see the individual residents commitment to the communities, the safe community centers where children can come to learn and socialize with others after school, and the beautiful neighborhoods that allow a sense of pride in that community – that’s what will bring you in to do more. There’s so much to do – and Homeport’s proven track record of success ensures that no support, whether financial or volunteer, will be wasted.
What do you feel is the most critical aspect of affordable housing in Columbus and Central Ohio?
Columbus and Central Ohio are facing an epidemic in affordable housing. With a deficit of thousands of units, we have to do more. While Columbus is on the forefront of development and technology, winning many national awards for being a great city to live, without creating an environment where people from all economic backgrounds can thrive, those accolades are hollow. We need to build a diverse fabric in every community that allows everyone to benefit from everything Columbus has to offer, and that ensures the very sense of community will survive.