Melanie Schell is a seasoned non-profit attorney with extensive experience as an executive-level manager, in-house counsel, communications strategist, and planned gift specialist. She works with organizations of all sizes and in all stages, blending her knowledge of law and best practices with nonprofit sensibilities to develop mission-based solutions for clients.
As Managing Principal and General Counsel for the Bannack Group, Melanie manages Bannack’s operations and counsels nonprofit organizations on strategic planning, major fundraising initiatives, sound operational policies and procedures, public relations and communications, deferred giving and creative philanthropy, board/staff roles and relations, and key organizational transitions.

She also maintains a private legal practice, providing comprehensive legal services to nonprofit organizations with particular emphasis on governance, complex gift structures, contracts, real estate matters, corporate compliance, and human resources. Prior to her consulting work, Ms. Schell served as the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for the Montana State University Alumni Foundation. In that role, she served as a key member of the organization’s senior leadership team and was responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day management of communications, planned/deferred giving, events, human resources, business relations, alumni relations, annual fund, real estate and property management, and legal affairs. She had primary responsibility for more than one-half of the organization’s personnel and annual operating budget.

As a former frontline fundraiser, Ms. Schell has secured over $50 million in current and deferred gifts individually and through strategic collaborations. She served as the chief operations manager and communications strategist for multiple fundraising initiatives, including a successful 120-day $10 million campaign during the height of the 2008 national financial crisis.

Ms. Schell is a licensed attorney in Montana and Minnesota, where she previously practiced in the areas of estate planning and small business formation. She also spent four years in federal criminal defense.

Ms. Schell earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah College of Law where she successfully competed in trial advocacy and moot court, was a teaching assistant for Torts and legal research/writing courses, and was a staff member of and published in the Journal of Law & Family Studies. She received her BA with honors in Speech Communications from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

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