Melissa Ludin


Melissa Ludin is the Statewide Coalition and Relations Advocate for the ACLU of Wisconsin. She is a mother of four boys and a student at UW Milwaukee. Leveraging years of experience in building authentic relationships, storytelling, and leading statewide initiatives, Melissa focuses on issue-based organizing, community engagement, criminal legal system education with an emphasis on violence, restorative practice, and policy efforts, embodying a human-centered and authentic leadership style. Her ability to establish trusted connections with diverse stakeholders, including those directly impacted, underpins her commitment to driving change and achieving results, drawing from her own experiences that began over 22 years ago during her incarceration at the age of 19.

In 2016, after the unexpected death of a close friend, Melissa found and joined Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO) as a leader, on fire and with determination to dismantle the prison system. Prior to 2016 and after her release from prison in 2007, Melissa was a mentor and connector for women across the state who got released from prison. Her dedication and expertise was recognized with a nomination as the first board president of EXPO, which is led by people directly impacted. In addition, she was one of the co-founders of the FREE Campaign, an initiative dedicated to addressing the unique needs of directly impacted women and their families. Currently, Melissa serves as an appointed member of the criminal justice coordinating council for Outagamie County and part of coalitions across the state.

In 2022, Melissa was nominated as the Most Influential Leader by EXPO and has shared her expertise on the penal system as a keynote speaker, lecturer, and on numerous panels across the state. She also contributed to a play called “Like an Animal in a Cage” to bring awareness and an end to the torture of solitary confinement. She has shared her expertise in various blogs and media outlets, including USA Today, the Capitol Times, WORT Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Post Crescent, Wisconsin Examiner, The Daily Cardinal, PBS Wisconsin, TMJ4 News, and Urban Milwaukee.