Melissa Kupferberg Annual Training Scholarship

You are here

The Melissa Kupferberg Annual Training Scholarship, through the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists (NASAMS), recognizes Melissa's life work and commitment to providing indigent persons accused of criminal violations of state and federal law with zealous, client-centered advocacy through providing high quality training for all members of the defense team and promoting best practices for client representation in non-capital cases.


The Melissa Kupferberg Annual Conference Scholarship promotes her life work and her commitment to zealous advocacy, training, and best practices of client representation in non-capital cases for indigent persons arrested in state or federal criminal court cases. Melissa exemplified this mission. Through her persistent hard work and long hours, scholarly work and training, as well as dedication and compassion, Melissa became a shining star in our profession. Melissa worked in the capital and non-capital communities in Arizona and Florida. She did not take the easy road; she traveled many an unpaved road and gently gathered each stone knowing the gems she might find in each person she represented. Melissa always went beyond the call of duty with each person she met, whether client, colleague, or friend. She loved exploring her clients’ lives and was passionate about the mysteries within each of us. She was one of the greatest listeners in the profession. This led clients, as well as friends, to trust her and confide their secrets, knowing they would be safe. Melissa had the uncanny ability to become a cherished part of someone’s life within minutes of meeting her. She embraced life and all it had to offer.

Melissa was Vice Chair of NASAMS and Co-chair of NASAMS annual conferences. She was an active board member. She had co-developed and presented an ethics training for social workers in defenders offices and had planned to concentrate on writing professional articles on the subject. Melissa had also begun to develop a graduate school curriculum on defense-based mitigation training. In the years before she died, Melissa provided training throughout the country for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Office of Defender Services, where she was a greatly sought-after facility member. Melissa nearly completed her co-authored handbook for mitigation investigators, specialists, and social science experts.

Scholarship Application Process

Deadline: May 3, 2024

Application requirements:

  • Each applicant must respond in writing with an essay (approximate length: 1,000-1,500 words)
  • Identify your statement of need and describe your current mitigation work.
  • Describe the objectives you wish to achieve by attending the conference.
  • Detail how your participation at the conference may impact the work you do.
  • Provide two references from attorneys, defense-based social workers/mitigators, investigators and/or sponsoring agency. These persons should be someone who is knowledgeable of the applicant's commitment to the work.

Please email your completed application to [email protected] with the subject line as MK Scholarship.
*This scholarship will cover travel costs, lodging, and conference fees, including continuing education hours.

The NASAMS Scholarship Subcommittee and a family member of Melissa’s will review all applications completed on time and determine the scholarship winner(s). We will inform the winner in time for you to secure your airline and hotel accommodations.

Note: It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the completed application has been received on time.


To contribute to the Melissa Kupferberg Annual Training Scholarship Fund, please click here. You can also make a donation via check to NLADA for the Melissa Kupferberg Annual Training Scholarship at 1901 Pennsylvania, NW Washington, D.C. 20006.