Melissa Bert is an innovative leader, lawyer and strategist. She provides independent consultancy in strategic planning, organizational leadership, national security law and policy, criminal litigation, maritime and international law, diplomacy and capacity building, Intelligence law, negotiation and mediation. She has also served as a Captain of the Port, Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection, and Federal On Scene Coordinator for oil and chemical spills. She recently transitioned from her role as the Judge Advocate General and Chief Counsel of the Coast Guard. She previously served as the Coast Guard’s Director of Governmental and Public Affairs, where she synchronized the service’s external engagement with Congress, the Inter-agency, the media, and strategic partners and stakeholders.
Her military service included with the Joint Force as Deputy Director of Operations for the U.S. Northern Command overseeing homeland defense and defense support for civil authorities for North America, as well as theater security cooperation with Mexico and The Bahamas.
As a lawyer, she was Chief of the Coast Guard’s Maritime and International Law Office, and previously held positions as a prosecutor and military judge. For her legal expertise she was awarded the Young Military Lawyer of the Year for the Coast Guard by the American Bar Association in 1997 and the Judge Advocates Association Outstanding Career Armed Services Attorney Award in 2006. Her operational tours included command of Coast Guard Sector Juneau, responsible for the shipping, ports and waterways of Southeastern Alaska; as Chief of Staff for the Seventh Coast Guard District, overseeing Coast Guard operations in the Southeastern United States and Caribbean; as well as two tours at sea, including one as the executive officer of a cutter.
Core to her beliefs in advancing the next generation of talent, Melissa founded the Coast Guard Women’s Leadership Initiative; a grassroots-endowed nonprofit that actively supports and provides formal mentoring, leadership development, and business networking opportunities for young women in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Melissa holds a J.D. from George Washington University and a B.S. in Government from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. She was a fellow in residence with the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard University’s National Security Program; and published author featured in the New York Times, the Miami Herald, and the Boston Globe. She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Proctor in Admiralty.