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School of Liberal Arts

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Dr. Melissa A. Gaeke

Director, Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership
Professional Lecturer in Political Science

Office Location: Fontaine 201

Phone: (845) 575-3000 ext. 2914

Email: melissa.gaeke@marist.edu

Degrees Held

Ph.D., University of Southern California

M.P.P, New York University

B.S., Colorado State University


Prior to arriving at Marist in the Fall of 2014, Melissa was the Executive Director of Academic Partnerships from 2010 - 2014 at the University of Southern California.  In that role, she created and supported partnerships between USC’s civic engagement programs,  the research of the University’s academic units, and community stakeholders.  She was involved in documenting USC’s civic engagement efforts, as well as strengthening the infrastructure that supported the work. 

From 2003-2010, Melissa served as the Director of the USC Volunteer Center, where she was responsible for implementing a variety of community service and service learning programs for undergraduate students. 

Melissa began her career in New York City where she held a variety of leadership positions at Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a mid-sized social service agency in Queens, NY from 1994-1999.


Gaeke, Melissa A. (2009). Exploring student motivations toward civic engagement: An application of expectancy-value theory. (Doctoral Dissertation) ProQuest/UMI (Publication No. 3355336).

Myrtle, R. C., Gaeke, M. & Cooper, T. (2003). "Trust, Deliberation and Changing Administrative Culture"; in Engaging the Global Community. Los Angeles: Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, pp. 30-34.

Gaeke, M., Musso, J., Kitsuse, A., Lincove, E. & Salazar, P. (2002). Issues and Practices in Neighborhood Council Organizing: Community Case Studies. Neighborhood Participation Project Report.

Research Interests

Her research and teaching interests include civic engagement, models of civic education, citizenship, American politics, deliberative democracy, and public ethics.  Professionally, she has more than 15 years of experience creating and supporting civic engagement programs for students, faculty and community stakeholders.

Conferences and Workshops

Conference Papers

Juliet Musso, Melissa Gaeke, & Carl Avery. The Geography of Neighborhood Organizational Activity in Los Angeles. Paper presented at the Annual Research Conference of The American Society for Public Administration, March 2002.

Melissa Gaeke, Juliet Musso, & Terry Cooper. Beyond NIMBY vs. Neighborhood Participation: Missions and Activities of Community Organizations in Los Angeles. Paper presented at the Annual Research Conference of The American Society for Public Administration, March 2001.


Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action