Meet Our Staff

Our staff embraces our mission to inspire and empower Cornell Engineers to create lifelong career success. We believe the greatest impact arises when career education is integrated in each student's life from day one as a Cornellian. We encourage every engineering student to engage with our office throughout their time here at Cornell.

Christa Downey

Christa B. Downey

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Christa is inspired by people who pursue their passions through work, service, and hobbies and is passionate about helping Cornell students find ways to connect their strengths and interests through unique opportunities. Christa is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). She is the Director of the Engineering Career Center, where the team inspires and empowers Cornell Engineers to create life-long career success. Past experiences include leading the Arts & Sciences Career Center, facilitating groups on Cornell’s Hoffman Challenge course, teaching business math at a community college, and other roles in higher education. A first-generation college student and Pittsburgh native, Christa holds a B.S. in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University, where she currently serves on the Alumni Association Board. She also holds an M.S. in College Student Personnel from Miami University (in Ohio - Miami was a university before Florida was a state). When she’s not working, Christa is likely outside, training for triathlons, camping, boating, traveling, or reading. Her favorite hike was in Poland’s Tatra Mountains, her favorite tri was the Timberman in Gilford, New Hampshire and she is always looking for new book recommendations.

Melissa Bazley

Melissa Bazley

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Associate Director

Melissa has advised Cornell Engineering students on a variety of academic, career, college transition, and personal issues for the last 12+ years and has worked in higher education for over 15 years. She is particularly interested in leveraging educational technology to create efficiencies and improve learning outcomes for students. She enjoys working with engineering students and faculty because they work hard, are dedicated, and strive to create innovative solutions to complex problems. Outside of the office, she enjoys camping in the Adirondacks, spending time on Cayuga Lake, and watching recreational youth sports with her family. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in international management, a master’s degree focused on college student development, and recently completed a second master’s degree in instructional systems technology.

Dean Meloney, Data Manager, JCB

Dean Meloney

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Career Advisor

Dean is passionate about simplifying complex concepts and helping students at all levels achieve their goals. He currently leads a data team at the SC Johnson College of Business. Prior to coming to Cornell, Dean spent 12 years as a civilian flight test engineer for the US Navy, working with fighter and light attack aircraft before helping to build a corporate university at the Naval Air Systems Command. He also ran the short course program at the United States Naval Test Pilot School for a few years, helping to teach civilian and military engineers and aircrew from around the world to test complex aircraft safely and effectively. He holds a BS and an MS in Aeronautical Engineering from RPI, and a long-expired high school teaching certificate from New York State. When not at work, Dean can usually be found in the yard or the garage creating or repairing something.


Helen Chandler

Helen Chandler

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Assistant Director

A North Carolina native, Helen got her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shortly after graduating from UNC, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia and began working at the University of Virginia Career Center, where she realized her passion for student affairs. She then completed her M.Ed. in Higher Education at UVA and worked as the Student Services Coordinator for the Higher Education Graduate Programs from which she had just graduated. Working with the Higher Education students solidified her desire to advise students as they find their interests, talents, and paths forward, and in the Summer of 2018, she joined the Engineering Career Center as an Assistant Director.

Jennifer Soprano, Employer Relations and Recruiting Coordinator, Engineering Career Center

Jennifer Soprano

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Employer Relations/Recruiting Coordinator

Jennifer grew up in Rose, NY - a very small town about 90 minutes north of Ithaca. She has completed undergraduate course work at Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, NY), Finger Lakes Community College (Canandaigua, NY), SUNY Oswego and, most recently, Cornell. While at FLCC, Jennifer completed her AS in Liberal Arts. In the fall of 2006 she began her career at Cornell as an Administrative Assistant in the Advising and Career Services office in the College of Arts and Sciences. In the Fall of 2012 Jennifer joined the Engineering Career Center as the Employer Relations/Recruiting Coordinator. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys growing gardens, camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing and enjoying all that the Finger Lakes Region has to offer!

Julie Wright, Co-op Assistant, Engineering Career Center

Julie Wright

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Co-op Coordinator, Administrative Support

Julie served five and a half years as an administrative assistant at Gannett Health Services, where she was the sports medicine first point of contact for students and staff. Prior to joining Cornell, Julie worked locally as receptionist/billing assistant at Family Medicine Associates; surgical scheduler at Plastic Surgical Associates Podiatric; medical assistant for Dr. Evan Meltzer; and habilitation assistant at Groton Community Health Center. Julie is a graduate of Moravia Central Schools and attended Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Margie Whiteleather

Margie Whiteleather

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Alumni Career Conversations Coordinator

As a communicator and project manager, Margie strives to make information and opportunities easier for students to access. While based in auxiliary support departments at Cornell for over twenty years she has led a variety of new projects and collaborations. A particular focus has been at the Cornell Store, where she created the store’s first social media accounts, and in website and print media work in her current role in Campus Life Marketing and Communications. She holds a BA in art history and has done graduate coursework in media studies. Outside of work she enjoys reading about higher education and exploring the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes.

Amanda Wiiliams

Amanda Williams '17

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Alumni Career Conversations Coordinator

Amanda graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in China and Asia Pacific Studies. After spending two semesters away from Ithaca in Washington D.C. and Beijing, China, she decided to stick around Ithaca for a little longer. Since graduating, Amanda has worked as an Admissions Counselor with the SC Johnson College of Business, advising prospective students on applying and transitioning to college. She is also working towards her Master’s degree here at Cornell in Anthropology, studying equity and access in the collegiate student experience. As a student, Amanda was a part of the Big Red Bands and as an alumna, she is excited to share her musical friend’s stories of their time at Cornell through Alumni Career Conversations. A part from working with future, current, and past Cornellians, Amanda loves to read, write, and run with her two Chihuahuas, Derby and Monty.