Crane: Unfold Your Story

Melissa Brookes

positioning strategist


Before joining CRANE as a team member, Melissa was a CRANE client. She carries that unique understanding of our programs and processes along with more than 20 years of wide-ranging, deep-diving experience in the nonprofit sector, arts administration, and education. With broad experience in program management, communications and branding, and school leadership, Melissa has built a true insider understanding of independent education. Most recently, her tenure as the Managing Director of the Arts Schools Network was a time of extraordinary growth and success—for Melissa, for the organization, and for its members.


Passionate about emerging trends in education, Melissa seeks out continuous learning, evolving solutions, and new insights. Over the past decade, she has built special expertise in arts education, and is particularly attuned to the field’s current conversations, challenges, and opportunities. Melissa holds an MA in Public Policy and Nonprofit Management from DePaul University and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Michigan State University. She is also a certified life coach, bringing patience and perspective to every client engagement.


Melissa’s experience is impressive and her accomplishments are concrete. She has served as the Director of the Downtown Program at Gallery 37, which under her leadership became an international model for arts education and jobs training programs. Melissa is also the co-founder of The Chicago Teen Museum—the first museum dedicated entirely to the preservation of teen cultures—and a previous Director of Admissions and Global Partnerships and Marketing at The Chicago Academy for the Arts.