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Melissa Carrera

Melissa Lukesic Head shot.png


The Donor Relations Group

Director of Donor Relations & Stewardship

University of Denver

Areas of Expertise

  • Leadership and strategy

  • Gift agreements and gift administration

  • Recognition programs – first time donor, loyal, planned giving, etc.

  • Donor experiences and event production

  • Endowment Reporting

  • Database management

  • Data analytics, prospect management

  • Fund management and audits

  • Stewardship reporting

  • Custom stewardship plans

  • Annual giving stewardship

Melissa arrived in donor relations almost a decade ago with a variety of experience in hospitality, sport, database management, catering and events, travel, and conference planning. All of which provided her a solid base for providing excellent donor stewardship, engagement, and advancement services. Melissa’s career has been focused on building - building programs, processes, teams, events, you name it, she’s built it. Often called the “heart” of the team, Melissa brings her thoughtfulness and high emotional intelligence to the team she leads and the one she serves. 


Melissa was drawn to donor relations because it perfectly blended her interests in the art of hospitality and the science of evaluating programs, creating processes, and innovation. On a quest for constant improvement and seeking efficiency wherever possible, Melissa works to enhance every donor experience from the proposal to the gift agreement to the stewardship report and the recognition events. She believes that “stewardship is all around us” and should be an integrated piece of everything we do. Melissa values diversity, collaboration, resiliency, humor, and innovation in work and her personal life.


Melissa grew up in and around the Denver metro area and has lived all over the state, currently living close to the urban campus where she works. She earned her BS in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University and an MA in Education from University of Phoenix. She enjoys yoga, mountain biking, reading, hiking, raptor watching, comedy shows, and live music.


Strengthsfinder Top 5: Input, Relator, Learner, Achiever, Responsibility


Presented at the 2021 ADRP International Conference

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