Skip to main content

Emerson College Appoints Melissa Farmer Richards Vice President and Chief of Staff

Melissa Famer Richards
As part of a continued partnership, Lindauer and Emerson teamed up to conduct a national search that will help usher in a new era under the leadership of College President Jay Bernhardt.

Arriving from Hamilton College, where she served as Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Melissa Farmer Richards joins Emerson College’s leadership team and steps into a pivotal role for the institution.

“After a competitive national search and outstanding support from the executive search firm Lindauer, I’m thrilled to share that Emerson’s next Vice President and Chief of Staff will be Melissa Farmer Richards,” said Emerson President Jay Bernhardt. “Melissa has extensive experience in higher education leadership, issues management, and a deep interest in strategic planning, and I’m incredibly pleased that she will join our leadership team.

“She will play an essential role in helping us achieve our goals,” President Bernhardt continued.

Prior to her term at Hamilton College, Richards held similar leadership positions at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, and St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Her portfolio also included successfully leading the critical functions of admission and financial aid, communications for fundraising and multi-year advancement campaigns, crisis communications, and collaboration on projects involving institutional research and assessment, accreditation, rankings, multi-year budget modeling, and strategic planning.

Throughout her corporate and higher education career, Richards has worked with boards of directors and venture capitalists in industry, as well as boards of trustees in higher education, and has experience staffing board committees. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication Studies at the University of Virginia and a Master of Public Administration at Virginia Tech. She holds the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).

Read the full announcement on the Emerson College website.

Melissa Farmer Richards was appointed in December 2023. The search was led by Lindauer Vice President and Managing Director Faith Montgomery and Consultant Alexandra Barber.

Subscribe today to get the latest industry news, resources, and career opportunities.