Education is Essential

COVID-19 has presented a tremendous challenge for Saint Ignatius High School to balance our mission of providing an academically rigorous, Catholic, Jesuit education along with the health and safety recommendations of leading healthcare experts. On Monday, March 15, students returned to full-day, in-person learning.

Saint Ignatius High School

Wildcat Woman of the Week: Melissa Murphy

As part of Saint Ignatius High School’s Women’s History Month Celebration, we are proud to feature our third Wildcat Woman of the Week, Mrs. Melissa Murphy of the Advancement Department.

The staff in our Advancement Department work tirelessly with one goal in mind: to ensure a prosperous future for Saint Ignatius High School. Their work moves the school from where it is now to where it wants to be for future generations of scholars. Advancement is the strategic, philanthropic process behind our mission to bring these goals to fruition. 

Melissa Murphy has been a key member of the Advancement Department since 2004, when she joined the team as the Director of Special Events. There are a slew of benefits that come from event planning, particularly in building camaraderie and keeping our broader school community engaged with our developments. It is certainly not easy to execute the tasks of this challenging and dynamic role, but Melissa’s resilience, on-the-job experience, institutional knowledge and genuine passion for Saint Ignatius make her the perfect woman for the job.

“I like to think of my role as the beginning of the advancement funnel. Attendance at events often leads to an Annual Fund Gift, which leads to a Major Gift, which can eventually lead to a Planned Gift. These events touch all areas of advancement, so it is my job to make sure they’re done well to best engage our community,” Melissa explained.

Melissa’s responsibilities have grown significantly throughout the past 16 years. “When I started here, I planned six events annually. Now I’m typically looking at one to two events per month.”

Included in the plethora of events Melissa plans are two major fundraisers: the annual Christmas Concert and Scholarship Drive. Between these two events, Melissa’s efforts have grossed over 12 million dollars throughout her tenure. These funds directly support tuition assistance for Saint Ignatius families.

The Saint Ignatius community has been blessed with generous donations that allow the expansion of our campus. Melissa has been instrumental in planning 21 dedications – from Rade Dining Hall, to The Breen Center for the Performing Arts, to the Marian Mall, to the Carfagna Family Magis Athletic Center – Melissa has been behind-the-scenes through it all. “The dedications are fun because they’re outside of our normal calendar. They’re unique events that my team is able to use a lot of creativity to execute.”

Melissa works closely with Garen Distelhorst '96, Director of Alumni Relations, on alumni events such as the 1886 Society Leadership Reception, Wildcats Roar, the Bellarmine Luncheon, Reunion Weekend and more. She also enjoys teaming up with Mary Jo Kyle, Coordinator of Parent Programs, to help orchestrate the annual events hosted by the Loyola Society and Fathers' Club.

Melissa is a 2003 graduate of John Carroll University, where she was introduced to the Jesuit mission and experienced first-hand the benefits of a Jesuit education. “I love the fact that I’m able to personally advance the efforts of the Jesuits through the work I do every day. The memories I have made and the relationships I have formed with many of [the Jesuits] have definitely been a highlight of working at Ignatius.”

In addition to the Jesuits, Melissa is thankful for all the other relationships she has formed-- with various benefactors, the Advancement team and other colleagues-- throughout her 16 years at Ignatius. But her favorite relationship she has built has been the one with her now-husband of more than 10 years, Jim Murphy ‘99 of the Languages Department. Melissa and Jim are currently raising two beautiful children, Maggie and Conor, and are greatly looking forward to Conor continuing the Ignatius family tradition as a future member of the Class of 2033!