Prior to her current position as counsel at the law firm of Tremba and Kinney and the founder and co-director of the Center for Religiously Affiliated Non- Profit Organizations at Seton Hall Law School, Sister Melanie was a shareholder at Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney where her legal practice included the negotiation and design of governance structures of national and regional health care corporations, mergers and joint ventures involving Catholic and non-Catholic organizations, legislative analysis and constitutional litigation involving religiously affiliated social service corporations, health care and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Sister served as special counsel for Catholic Charities USA. Sister began her legal career as associate counsel of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Sister Melanie, a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill, earned her B.A degree from Seton Hill University, her M.A. from Occidental College, Los Angeles, a J.D from Duquesne University Law School and a J.C.D from the University of St. Thomas in Rome. She initiated joint programs in canon law with the University of Cardiff and the University of St. Thomas. Her doctoral dissertation examined the relationship of American law and canon law in the governance of the public juridic persons succeeding to the health care apostolate of American Women Religious. As a part of her continuing education she has completed certificate programs in the Harvard Negotiation Program and the executive Management Program of the United Way, National Academy for Volunteerism.
In addition to canonical consultations, Sister continues to consult and write on matters concerning nonprofit governance and legal issues involving tax exempt organizations. Her most recent contribution, “A Corporation’s Exercise of Religion: A Practioner’s Experience, was published in Law, Religion and Health in the United States, (eds. Holly Fernandez Lynch, I. Glenn Cohen and Elizabeth Sepper, Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Sister is an elected member of the American Law Institute and several professional organizations. She has served on numerous public boards, nonprofit boards, academic advisory boards and most recently completed several terms on the Legal Commission of Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for the caritas organizations throughout the world. The recipient of several civic and academic honors, she was the recipient of the Thomas More Award of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in October 2017.