Melissa Westphal Benefiel

Grants Program Manager

Why LEO?

“I have spent most of my career helping nonprofits and institutions of higher education secure the funding they need to achieve their mission. What makes LEO the highlight of my career is our ambitious, high level, broader impact approach to solving poverty. It inspires me to do the work that allows our researchers to find the most effective solutions to domestic poverty. 

LEO offers me the opportunity to make a lasting difference by actively participating in the work I believe is the solution to the social inequalities that exist in our country. A lifelong fighter of injustice, every day I am part of work I believe is leading to those most in need receiving what they deserve– services that work.”


Melissa’s work focuses on identifying grant opportunities for LEO’s research and managing the writing, submission, and reporting process of grant awards. She also supports the LEO team's efforts to properly steward the supporters that make LEO’s poverty research possible. Melissa received her BA in Sociology from St. Joseph’s College and her MA in Sociology from Purdue University. She also holds a certificate in Fundraising Management from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, and she served as the Director of Development at Purdue North Central before joining the LEO team.

Phone: 219.263.8300