The premier national network of women veterans.
Through networking groups, events, and support, WVA equips, empowers, and encourages women that have served our country, by connecting them with resources, mentorship, and career opportunities, and helping them discover and fulfill their greatest potential.
Founder Melissa Washington, a former Navy Sailor and current military-spouse, started WVA to bring women veterans together to help empower each other.
Their vision is to connect the over 2 million Women Veterans (and supporters) globally for the purpose of sharing gifts, talents, resources and experience.
Through their non-profit partner, Women Veterans Giving, they support Women Veteran entrepreneurs with scholarships to conferences and an annual small business award.
Award-winning advocate, speaker, author, entrepreneur, CEO, and proud Navy veteran Melissa A. Washington wears many hats. Yet woven throughout her diverse pursuits is a mission of service—and a passion to empower her fellow women.
The daughter of a Bronze Star Army Vietnam War veteran, Melissa grew up in San Francisco’s East Bay, and enlisted in the Navy at 18, in which she spent three years in active duty and five years in reserve. That formative experience set her life on a completely new trajectory, introducing Melissa to her husband and, ultimately, inspiring her to transform thousands of lives.
In the mid-90s, she chose to leave the Navy early, having witnessed the burdens that come with a dual-service family. While her husband would remain in the Marine Corps for 21 years, Melissa embarked on a new path, earning her bachelor’s degree in business management. She followed with a decade-long career in corporate recruiting and human resources, working with such entities as Nissan, Oracle, Tickets.com, Randstad, and the 2002 Winter Olympics.
In 2009, amid The Great Recession, Melissa was laid-off, yet she held LinkedIn workshops from her dining room table, where she imparted her vital knowledge to others. Soon, she was hosting larger workshops, which eventually grew into speaking engagements with hundreds of attendees. In 2011, she established Melissa Washington, Inc.—a consulting service catering to businesses and individuals, that incorporates LinkedIn for research, recruiting, job seeking, and collaboration.
Following a four-year period in LinkedIn’s Global Corporate Meeting & Events division, she returned to her entrepreneurial roots to support her fellow women veterans. A natural networker, Melissa initially sought to connect with her peers outside of traditional veterans’ organizations. Yet, the more meet-ups she planned, the more she realized the need for a dedicated support system for women veterans.
In 2015, Melissa founded Women Veterans Alliance—a national organization that seeks to empower and positively impact the lives of women veterans. Three years later, she established the nonprofit wing of WVA, Women Veterans Giving. Both entities offer women veterans opportunities to gain valuable career experience and successfully integrate back into civilian life. WVG also helps fund women veteran-owned businesses, which are often overlooked by other organizations.
Today, aside from serving as CEO to both the WVA and WVG, Melissa stays busy as an in-demand public speaker, whose topics range from career reinvention and women veterans to discovering one’s self-worth. She speaks regularly at conferences and events around the country and has conducted more than 100 training workshops—presenting for the likes of Marriott, the Urban League, Blue Diamond, and IMEX America. Melissa has also appeared on the Dr. Phil Show and the Lifetime Channel’s The Balancing Act, as well as on SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, among others.
Additionally, Melissa is the author of Get Back to Work: Smart & Savvy Real-World Strategies to Make Your Next Career Move (FriesenPress, 2014). She is currently working on a new book, based on her experiences with the WVA, which will offer practical advice on creating a meet-up group and becoming an influence within one’s community.
A longtime resident of Northern California, Melissa was a 2011 recipient of the Sacramento Business Journal’s prestigious 40 Under 40 award and was among the Journal’s Women Who Mean Business honorees in 2017. She has also been recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners with an Outstanding Women Leader Visionary Award and received the 2016 Soroptimist Ruby Award, which recognizes women helping women. In 2019, she received the Center for Women Veterans’ Trailblazer Award.