As a youngster, I spent a fair amount of time reading DC Comics, and adored the characters. Little did I realize as an adult I would have a chance to meet the real Wonder Woman when I interviewed Melissa McPherson.
Upon graduating from George Mason University with a BA in Government & Politics, Melissa joined Southern Title as a construction loan administrator and mechanics lien agent. She accepted the position on the advice of her father, who was a commercial real estate construction lender with strong ties to Southern Title. While there, she formed a bond with Jerry Skar, General Counsel. Jerry became her mentor
, and guided her early career journey. Since Southern Title was a supporter of CREW Richmond, she became introduced to the Chapter and started attending the Chapter’s various programs.
While Melissa survived the acquisition of Southern Title, she yearned for more opportunity. In 2004, she and Jerry Skar left the company to join Land America. She expanded her knowledge and honed her skills, while growing her network of commercial real estate professionals. She left Land America in 2008
, and joined Old Republic Title. Sadly, while there she experienced an issue far too familiar to many of us. While she wanted a more diverse experience that included commercial real estate work, Melissa was essentially pigeon holed into residential title work. She was informed that the “guys are handling that”, and her best option for commercial title work would be to relocate to the home office in Minnesota. Leaving her golden lasso at her side, Melissa walked out and began planning her next move.
Much to the admiration of this commercial real estate lender, Melissa’s next move was to form her own title company. Safe Harbor Title Company was born in 2010. Her involvement with CREW Richmond flourished, as did her business. She served as Chair for several of the committees and as Secretary for the Chapter twice. Happy to be an active member of the Board, she felt an obligation to step up her role and became Board President in 2013. She credits her CREW involvement with not only being a sound source for business but also helping to define her professionally and personally. The proudest accomplishment during her tenure as President was the creation of the Past Presidents Council; a vehicle that helps the Chapter benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a dynamitic group of women.
In our conversation about life/work balance, Melissa noted that a true balance doesn’t exist. One will always take precedence over the other, and it’s a matter of prioritizing which faction will get the focus during a period of time. “You’re not going to be perfect in both roles 100% of the time”, she stated. It was at this point, that I realized I was speaking with Diana Prince (the infamous secret identity of the real Wonder Woman). You see, it takes a real super hero to realize that she’s not a Wonder Woman.