Col. Melissa A. Zebley, a Wilmington University alumna, last year became the first woman to be appointed Superintendent of the Delaware State Police (DSP).
Appointed by Gov. John Carney on July 9, 2020, she is the 26th superintendent of the law enforcement agency.
Zebley, who became a State Trooper in July of 1992, graduated from the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command in 2000. She received her Master of Science degree in Administration of Justice from WilmU in 2003, the inaugural year for that degree. 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 for her that she traveled to every WilmU location as an adjunct instructor.
During her time at the University, Zebley organized and led its 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, working her way through the ranks of the DSP. In 2008, she became a graduate of the 235th session of the FBI National Academy. In August of 2019, then-Major Zebley was promoted to lieutenant colonel by Superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr., signaling her selection as his apparent successor.
Looking back on her 29-year journey with the DSP, Zebley says, “My appointment was a tremendous honor, and I believe it would be the same for anyone — man or woman. I was blessed with opportunities and wonderful mentors. Female officers of higher rank were especially helpful throughout my earlier career. My appointment as superintendent is a tremendous honor, 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,” she adds, “and I’m grateful to everyone who has walked with me on this journey.”