12 Women Who Are On The RYSE In Atlanta

RYSE takes a moment to spotlight a few women who are rising in their respective professions


Melissa Proctor

Calculated & Creative, Melissa Proctor Always Stays Ahead of the Game

Atlanta Hawks CMO Melissa Proctor successfully merges her gift of artistry with her love of the game.

Melissa Proctor

Hailing from Miami, Melissa discovered her love for sports early. She told her mother, while in high school, she would be the first female coach in the NBA. Proctor made history by becoming Miami Heat’s first “ball girl”, a role that is now referred to as team attendant.  


Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop – Melissa majored in Art holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Wake Forest University and a Master’s Degree in Design studies/branding from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at The London Institute. Melissa shares, “I was an artist that never played basketball. I got knocked down my first time being on the court, but I didn’t let that stop me. I used my creativity and persistence to get my foot in the door.”

Melissa interned every summer for the Heat while in college. When she was about to graduate, she applied for an internship program with the NBA. She had basketball star, Alonzo Mourning, write a letter of recommendation, but didn’t get the position with the league because she was ‘too creative’. Melissa didn’t let her stop her.


On Not allowing “labels” to Label Her – Proctor was disappointed when she didn’t get the internship with the NBA; she applied for the T3 Program Internship with Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta. Although she was too creative for the NBA, she wanted to be unique in appealing to Turner Broadcasting’s opportunity. Being true to her artistry, she won them over with her creative display of their flagship brands in a TV guide magazine format, which she turned into a personal portfolio. Melissa landed the internship with TNT Marketing. But it didn’t offer much money.

She called up her old boss from the Miami Heat to give her a reference at the Atlanta Hawks. She was hired to keep the court cleaned of sweat and wash and fold towels. That was also the year the NBA All-Star game come to Atlanta. It turned out to be one of her best career moves.


Trusting the Universe –  Every move she’s made in her personal and professional life came with the utmost trust and faith in God. “I trust the Universe wholeheartedly,” Melissa proclaims. Proctor had memorable wins at Turner Broadcasting. She created Upwave, a digital health and wellness brand from scratch; a few months after launching the entire department got cut, and she was laid off at eight months pregnant.

Before Melissa could panic, she reached out to her mentor, Steve Koonin, and he asked her to consult on brand development for him. That eventually led to her current role at the Hawks. Before leaving Turner, she was instrumental in leading the rebranding strategy of CourtTV to TruTV. She also worked in Turner’s London office while in grad-school which was also a faith move.


On The ‘Best of Both Worlds-  Working for Steve Koonin, Chief Executive Officer of the Atlanta Hawks, has been amazing. Proctor says he serves as an exemplary leader. “Sometimes you have to say no to some things. That’s hard but necessary. As our CEO says, ‘The “F word” is Focus. It’s better than trying to do 500 things at once and not doing them well.”

On non-game days Melissa tries to get in balance by spending quality time with her family; watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with her 2-year old daughter and being a loving wife. She’s also keen on keeping in touch with friends and mentors who’ve become friends.


On RYSE-ing to the Next Level – Melissa is hopeful when she looks out into her future and says if she could give her 20-year-old self advice, it would be not to worry so much. Relying on the principle that has proven itself over time, she says, “I will go where the Universe takes me and stay focused on my guiding principles.”

Melissa Proctor holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wake Forest University and a master’s degree in design studies/branding from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at The London Institute.

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