2019 Melissa Kupferberg Scholarship

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The Deadline to Apply for This Scholarship Has Passed. For an Overview of the Conferences, Please CLICK HERE


2019 Melissa Kupferberg Scholarship

For more than 20 years, the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists has hosted the Life in Balance and NASAMS conferences, premier training and networking events designed for all members of defense teams. Melissa Kupferberg, in addition to her many contributions to the profession of sentencing advocacy, was vice chair of NASAMS and co-chair of NASAMS annual conferences. NASAMS provides this training scholarship in recognition of her legacy and through the generosity of her family and NASAMS members.

The Melissa Kupferberg Annual Conference Scholarship promotes Melissa’s life work and her commitment to zealous advocacy, training, and best practices of client representation 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, training, 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 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 Candidates

The Melissa Kupferberg Scholarship is for a permanent, full time mitigator/social worker who is a current member of the NASAMS. The scholarship provides $400.00 for travel costs to Baltimore, MD, full tuition for the NASAMS conference, and two (2) nights of lodging for the NASAMS conference on June 3-4, 2019.  If applicable, Continuing Education Unit (CEUs) for social workers will be also be awarded.  

Scholarship Application Process

Deadline to Apply: April 1st

Winner Notified: Week of April 8th

Each Candidate Must Submit:

  • 1,000 - 1,500 words essay that includes the following:
    • Identify your statement of need and describe your current mitigation work.
    • Describe the objectives you wish to achieve by attending the conference.
    • Describe how your conference participation may impact your work.
  • Provide two references from attorneys, defense-based social workers/mitigators, investigators and/or sponsoring agency. These persons should be knowledgeable of applicant’s commitment to sentencing and equal justice.
  • Verification of current NASAMS membership.

A team of NASAMS board members and a family member of Melissa’s will review all applications completed on time and determine the scholarship winner. We will inform the winner in time for you to secure your airline and hotel accommodations. After the conference the winner will submit the completed paperwork to NASAMS for reimbursement of up to $400.

Please email your completed application to:  

Shannon Keyes Woodward, MSW, LCSW

NASAMS Secretary

[email protected]

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. 




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