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Alumni Spotlight: Col. Melissa A. Zebley, Delaware State Police Superintendent

Colonel Melissa A. Zebley, was appointed by Governor John Carney as the new Superintendent of the Delaware State Police (DSP) on July 9, 2020. She is the 26th superintendent of the law enforcement agency, and the first woman to be appointed to the position since its founding in 1923. She took command of the agency on July 13.

Superintendent Col. Melissa ZebleyZebley was appointed as a State Trooper in July of 1992 and, following completion of her academy training, she was assigned to Troop 6 in Prices Corner, New Castle County. She graduated from the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command in 2000.

“My appointment was a tremendous honor, and I believe it would be the same for anyone – man or woman,” says Zebley. “I was blessed with opportunities and wonderful mentors. Female officers of higher rank were especially helpful throughout my earlier career.”

A 28 year member of the DSP, Zebley is an accomplished Wilmington University alumna who “accepted the challenge” and received her Master of Science degree in Administration of Justice in 2003, its inaugural year. She also become an adjunct instructor that year, and a program assistant in the University’s Criminal Justice Program. It’s a particular source of pride that she traveled to every WilmU location as an adjunct instructor.

During her time at the University, Zebley organized and led WilmU’s annual Women in Criminal Justice Leadership Conference from 2005 to 2010. “The first Women in Criminal Justice Leadership Conference was attended by 80 people,” Zebley recalls. “By 2010, the conference had grown to several hundred attendees. That was solid growth over five years. Looking back, the conference was also an excellent recruiting opportunity for both the University and a wide variety of state agencies.”

Zebley continued her professional development as she worked her way up through the ranks of the DSP. In 2008, she became a graduate of the 235th session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) National Academy. In August of 2019, then-Major Zebley was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel by Superintendent Colonel Nathaniel McQueen, Jr, signaling her selection as his apparent successor.

Looking back on her journey with the Delaware State Police, Zebley says, “My appointment as superintendent is a real blessing, and I’m humbled by the confidence others have had in me as I prepared to assume this role. My Wilmington University master’s degree has been absolutely foundational to my growth and my appointment to this office, and I’m grateful to everyone who has walked with me on this journey.”

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