Melissa Dunlap Palmisciano is Deputy General Counsel & Assistant Secretary of White Castle System, Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. White Castle, an iconic restaurant brand since 1921, is known for its signature sliders at its approximately 365 restaurants in the Midwest and Northeast (and now Scottsdale, AZ). The company’s products are also found at groceries nationally via White Castle’s thriving frozen foods business.
As Deputy General Counsel at White Castle, Melissa handles a wide variety of legal matters ranging from intellectual property, marketing, and real estate to litigation management, contract review, daily HR advice, and government relations. Additionally, Melissa applies her extensive management experience to leading special company-wide initiatives and serves on the Restaurant Division Leadership Team. In her unique role, Melissa’s organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills are called upon to support all areas of White Castle’s business.
Prior to joining the White Castle team, Melissa practiced law in the Columbus offices of Baker Hostetler and the global law firm of Jones Day in the areas of labor and employment and complex corporate litigation. Before entering civilian legal practice, Melissa served over 11 years on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, initially serving as an Aviation Intelligence Officer at MCAS Miramar, California. Following law school, Melissa served as defense counsel, prosecutor, and staff legal advisor as a Judge Advocate (JAG) at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. Melissa retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2020.
A staunch advocate of public education, Melissa was elected to the Grandview Heights Schools Board of Education in 2016 for a four-year term and served as the Vice President for two years. On the Board of Education, she focused on board policy, communications, government relations, finance, and economic development matters, re-negotiating a critical economic development agreement through collaborative work with public and private partners that more than doubled the school district’s annual revenue from the project. Melissa was also a founding member of Operation Legal Help Ohio, a non-profit dedicated to providing pro bono legal assistance to Ohio’s low-income military members and veterans and served on its Board of Directors in various roles from 2013-2019. Melissa joined the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) in 2018 and has served on the Scholarship and Audit Committees.
Melissa is a member of the Columbus Business First Forty Under 40 Class of 2016, a 2018 recipient of the Ohio School Boards Association Award of Achievement, and a 2019 recipient of the White Castle “Made It Matter” Award.
Melissa received her B.S. with Distinction from the United States Naval Academy and her J.D. summa cum laude from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She is admitted to the Ohio bar and various federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. Melissa and her husband Matt, a retired Air National Guard pilot and former active duty Marine Corps pilot, have three children and reside in Grandview Heights, Ohio.