Melissa Risteff, Co-Founder & CEO


My favorite teacher in high school taught us our AP classes in the science lab. I was always comfortable there, and didn’t realize that my gender wasn't traditionally drawn to the sciences. I'm happy I wasn't limited by typical gender stereotypes. And yes, I still read nerdy non-fiction about science today.

In my first job out of college I led a big software development project and was fortunate to be partnered with some incredible mentors. That was 20 years ago and I’ve been in love with advancing technology ever since.

I’ve always been drawn to learning new things, and when GE was looking for Six Sigma Black Belt recruits, I leapt at the chance to gain skills in business process engineering, statistics, and change management. I was partnered with an awesome CIO and leadership team who taught me everything about operating an IT organization.

Along the way I was blessed with a gifted executive coach who lit up my passion for professional development and coaching. It inspired me to go to grad school at the University of Denver for Organizational Development and Learning, where I also earned my Masters in Computer and Information Technology Management (courtesy of Sun Microsystems).

I’ve spent time in the education technology space throughout my career and always come back to it as a passion. And I believe we need career coaching that works, which is why I want Couragion to help people understand their options, decide which might be most fulfilling, and plan an approach to getting there. It’s our way of creating a pathway of role models and courageous champions who are thriving in STEM careers.