Melissa Chessher named one of Folio magazine’s Top Women in Media

By Wendy S. Loughlin

April 21, 2016

Melissa Chessher, chair of the magazine department and director of the magazine, newspaper and online journalism graduate program in the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, has been chosen as one of Folio magazine’s Top Women in Media in the Mentors category. Chessher is also a member of the core faculty for the Renée Crown University Honors Program.

The Folio: Top Women in Media Awards recognize the creativity and accomplishments of women in the magazine industry. Chessher was nominated for the honor by associate professor of magazine Harriet Brown.

“Melissa Chessher excels in many realms—as a writer, an editor, a teacher, a colleague—but her greatest gifts lie in the realm of mentorship,” Brown wrote in her nominating letter. “Over the last 18 years, she has devoted herself to improving the experiences of… students at Newhouse. It’s fair to say she has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.”

Brown went on to note that several of Chessher’s former students now work at top publications, including The Washington Post, Esquire, Mashable, Forbes and others. Many of Chessher’s students and advisees have also received national recognition, such as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Foundation, and publication in The New York Times. She has launched and advised dozens of student magazines and capstone projects, founded the annual Glavin Trip to New York City, and in 2006 was chosen as the teacher of the year by the Newhouse graduating class.  

Before joining the Newhouse faculty, Chessher spent over 20 years in the magazine field as both a writer and an editor. She worked on the launch of Real Simple, the largest magazine launch in Time Inc. history, and Gusto, a healthy living magazine for Latin American women. She has written for more than a dozen national consumer publications, including Self, Health, Marie Claire, Fitness, Men's Health and Parents magazines. Her work covers a wide range of topics—from travel stories that explore Tahiti, Scotland, and Italy to the neuroscience of snacking, the architecture of Zaha Hadid and the long-term health consequences of sexual-assault survivors. A special report for Self on the workplace challenges faced by women undergoing breast cancer treatment was part of a package that earned a National Magazine Award for personal service.

The Folio: Top Women in Media Awards will be presented June 9 in New York City. A complete list of honorees is available on the Folio website.