Melissa Giggenbach, Program Director
Melissa joined the West Virginia Innocence Project as an adjunct lecturer in Fall 2013. Originally from Roanoke, West Virginia, she graduated from Sweet Briar College in Virginia in 1996. After earning her J.D. from W.Va. College of Law in 1999, she practiced law in Morgantown before joining the staff of the Preston County Public Defender Services in Kingwood, WV. In 2002, she opened her own office with a focus on post-conviction work. On July 1, 2018, Melissa joined WVIP as program coordinator and staff attorney. On July 1, 2019, she became the full-time program director. Her work at WVIP consists of running the clinic, supervising and advising third year law students, and appearing in court, with and without students, to fight for the freedom of wrongfully convicted clients.
Bobby Chambers is a first-generation college student from Oceana, West Virginia. He received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in political science from West Virginia University, where he also studied English and philosophy. This past year, Bobby studied as an extern for West Virginia Circuit Court Judge Phillip Gaujot and for the Federal Public Defender in Clarksburg as a Sprouse Fellow. In his spare time, Bobby is a teaching assistant who enjoys helping first-year law students learn Legal Writing and Constitutional Law. Upon graduating law school in May 2020, Bobby plans to pursue a career in criminal defense for the indigent, where he hopes to make a step toward a world that doesn’t let a man’s innocence be contingent on his ability to pay.
Jordan is a third-year law student from South Charleston, West Virginia. She received a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications with an Area of Emphasis in Public Relations, with minors in English and Communication studies, from West Virginia University in 2016. She is a member of Public Interest Advocates and spent the summer after her 1L year working for Legal Aid of West Virginia in Charleston and the summer after her 2L year working for the Kanawha County Public Defender’s Office. Upon graduating law school in May 2020, Jordan hopes to continue to have the privilege of serving the people of West Virginia by pursuing a career in public service.
Seth is a third-year law student from Morgantown, West Virginia. He received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Civil Engineering from West Virginia University in 2017. Seth worked as an elections division intern for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office in Charleston, West Virginia during the summer of 2017 and interned at the Marion County Prosecutors Office in Fairmont, West Virginia during the summer of 2018. He is a member of WV Intellectual Property Association and is the Treasurer for the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Seth is interested in and hopes to continue litigation work after graduation, using his experience in civil, criminal, and administrative law.
Katie is a third year law student from Sod, West Virginia. Before law school, she worked as a public librarian for Kanawha County Public Library. Katie holds a bachelor of arts (BA) degree in History from Welch College and a master of library and information science (MLIS) degree from The Florida State University. Katie has served as a representative for the Class of 2020 to the WVU Law Ethics Council since 2018 (elected through 2020), and currently serves as President of the WVU Law Community Service Council. Katie is actively involved with Public Interest Advocates (PIA), and was awarded a Public Interest Fellowship for the summer of 2019 working with Legal Aid of West Virginia. Katie's legal interests and experiences are broad and include a summer with the WV State Privacy Office, as well as a Graduate Assistantship with WVU Office of Information Technology and Security during the 2018-2019 school year. Katie is passionate about community advocacy and equal access to justice for all West Virginians.
Elizabeth is a third-year law student from Bear, Delaware. She received a bachelor's degree in legal studies, with a minor in Spanish and criminal justice, from Wesley College in 2017. Elizabeth worked as a summer associate for a Bowles Rice (Charleston, WV) during the summer of 2017 and then a summer associate at Potter Anderson & Corroon (Wilmington, DE). She is the Vice President of the WV Student Chapter of the Employment Law Society, a member of the Women’s Leadership Council, and a tutor in the writing center at WVU Law.
Samantha Berry is a third-year law student from Moundsville, West Virginia. She graduated in 2017 from West Virginia University with a bachelor of arts in criminology and a minor in law and legal studies. She worked for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia in Wheeling, West Virginia, during the summer of 2018, and she worked for the Preston County Public Defender Services in Kingwood, West Virginia, during the summer of 2019. In addition to WVIP, she is the fundraising chair for the Class of 2020, the secretary of Phi Alpha Delta’s Willey Chapter, and a graduate assistant with West Virginia University’s Title IX Office. Upon completion of law school, she plans to pursue a career in criminal defense and wrongful conviction work.
Olivia is a third-year law student from Harrisville, West Virginia. She earned bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology from West Virginia University in 2016. Olivia worked as a legal intern with the Compliance Office of West Virginia University’s Athletic Department during the summer of 2018. She had the opportunity to intern with Disability Rights of West Virginia during the summer of 2019. She is a member of Public Interest Advocates and is the Secretary for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society. Olivia is passionate about public interest law, mental health awareness, and prison reformation..
Kiana Bracciodieta is originally from Mahwah, New Jersey. She came to West Virginia University in 2013, and graduated in 2017 cum laude with a bachelors degree in criminology and a minor in political science. She is a Delta Gamma alumnae and she is continuing her education by pursuing her law degree at West Virginia University College of Law. She is currently a third year law student and has served as her law school class president for the last two years. Kiana received the Cali Award in Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing her first year of law school. Additionally, Kiana has maintained her law job at Geisler Law located in Garfield, New Jersey since the summer of her first year of law school. Kiana is also in Lugar Trial Association, Family Law Quarterly, and Black Law Student Association. As a student attorney for the West Virginia Innocence Project, Kiana is dedicating her time to those that were falsely convicted. This is the sole reason Kiana came to law school and she looks forward to doing all she can during her time involved.
Lindsey, a senior from Charleston, West Virginia, joined the WVIP in Fall 2018. She is pursuing dual degrees in Political Science and English. She is a former teaching assistant in the Political Science department and Vice President of Philanthropy and Service for a Greek organization on campus. After graduation, she plans on attending law school and pursuing a legal career in which she can continue to work towards criminal justice reform and prisoner advocacy.
Corinne Connor is a junior at West Virginia University double-majoring in Political Science and Psychology, and minoring in Public Relations. Corinne is from Wheeling, West Virginia, and hopes to pursue a Master's degree in Public Administration upon graduation. She eventually hopes to complete a PhD in public policy. Corinne is a member of the Sigma Alpha chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, was appointed to the Student Government Association Judicial Court, and spends her free time volunteering with the Appalachian Prison Book Project. Corinne's commitment to social equity and comprehensive legal reform make her feel passionately about the mission of the West Virginia Innocence Project and its dedication to advocacy.
Cassidy Riley, a Senior from Lost Creek, WV, will be completing an undergraduate degree with a double major in political science and philosophy, this academic year. Her interest in social justice, and prison reform in the United States is what empowered her to join this group. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend West Virginia University Law School, earning a Master's in Public Administration as well as her law degree. She hopes to use her education to better serve the public, and to fight for the access to justice for all people.
Sarah is a Sophomore majoring in International Studies and Economics. In addition to interning for the Innocence Project, she previously interned for Senator Manchin. Additionally, she is a Senator in the WVU Student Government Association, where she serves on the Health and Community Engagement committees. She is the President of Helvetia, the Sophomore service honorary, as well as a participant in Model United Nations. In her free time, she likes to bike with her friends, play with her Labradoodle Luna, and watch WVU football games.
Breanna is a Junior from Gulf Shores, Alabama majoring in Journalism with minors in Political Science and Forensic and Investigative Sciences. She previously served as the Director of Community Service for a Greek organization on campus, where she planned community service events with local organizations in Morgantown, WV. After graduation, she plans on attending law school.