Next Up Columbus 2024: Melissa Wolf Starr

Melissa Wolf Starr
Melissa Wolf Starr

Photo courtesy of Melissa Wolf Starr

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Melissa Wolf Starr
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Age: 37
Profession: Jewish Family Services
Neighborhood: Dennison Place
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Ohio State University
Community Involvement: Community Shares of Mid Ohio, Franklin County Children Services
Motto: Show up for yourself first. Let that strength be the foundation from which you bring your whole self to others.
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram

Give us a snapshot of your path
Following a year abroad volunteering as an English teacher post-OSU, I found a role cultivating community in Columbus for rising college graduates. The program brought students together for workforce development coaching and opportunities to connect to the Greater Columbus area as an initiative to combat our region’s “brain drain” of talent moving away. I fell in love with human services, specifically workforce development. In the time since, I’ve continued to grow my career in the nonprofit sector and now serve as Jewish Family Services’ COO.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
I love what I do and the people I work with. Mondays aren’t hard for me to return to the workweek. I am thankful for the means to afford childcare that I know my children love. I, like so many, learned a lot raising children through the pandemic while maintaining a career. It takes a village.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Listen first. There is so much to learn from others.
Trust your talent, people are looking to learn from you.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Curl up on the couch with my husband and binge Survivor. “Survivors ready, go!”

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
Dos Hermanos taco truck at Seventh Son Brewing with our Tuesday crew, La Chapis taco truck at 5th and Highland St., the Pizza Guy (my children’s term of endearment) at GoreMade Pizza, Franklin Park Conservatory followed by a visit to East Market, and when it’s just my husband and I, we love a good dive bar, like India Oak.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a ‘businesswoman,’ because I was attracted to the idea of wearing pumps daily. I was sorely mistaken.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Hysteria podcast- Crooked Media

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I am honored to join this year’s class and those who came before us as ambassadors. I was born and raised here, growing up in Dublin, attending tOSU, working on the East side, and now raising my family in Short North. I see so much opportunity for growth and this is a community where you can make an impact. That’s what I hope to demonstrate with this recognition.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
If you dream it, you can make it happen in Columbus.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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