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Melissa Pepper

Melissa Pepper is a versatile multi-industry leader who excels when building, changing, and growing teams and programs. She’s known for her creative communication, contagious energy, and decisive action. She started her career as a civil servant, working to create grassroots change in how we talk about post-secondary education for first-generation college students. From there, she has worked as in account management at a large regional blood center, marketing at a law firm, and now a professional employer organization, where she serves as President and Chief Strategy Officer. Melissa’s leadership has accelerated Total Solutions' growth; in her three-year tenure, the company has experienced year-over-year revenue growth, high employee engagement, and exceptional net promoter score ratings. The Total Solutions team was recognized in 2020 as a Better Business Bureau Torch Award recipient.

Melissa is the founder of Lead(h)er, a nonprofit organization that has matched over 450 women with mentors. Passionately committed to the Quad Cities region, Melissa also serves on numerous boards and committees, including Genesis Health System (Board Member), Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce Membership Committee (Chair), and IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union (Board Member). Consciously putting her English and Communications degree to work, she is a Forbes Business Council member and frequently speaks and writes on leadership topics, having been a guest on the Schooled in Business, Leading the Factory Forward, Team Engagement, and Built in Iowa podcasts.

Melissa is a proud recipient of the Nation of Neighbors Award and was named the Young Community Leader of the Year by the Jaycees of the Quad Cities. She graduated summa cum laude from Augustana College and earned her MBA from The University of Iowa. She and her husband Dan have two young sons, Grayson and Brooks. She enjoys strong coffee, medium-length runs, and funny podcasts.

  • Economy
    Matt and Melissa talk with Alana Carroll about life as an accountant.
  • Economy
    Matt and Melissa talk with Alana Carroll about life as an accountant.
  • Matt and Melissa talk with race car driver McKenna Haase live at Business Horizons.
  • Matt and Melissa talk with race car driver McKenna Haase live at Business Horizons.
  • Join Matt and Melissa for this episode of A Real Piece of Work as they speak with Benjamin Leischner, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Quad Cities International Airport. Ben talks about how he thought he wanted to be a pilot and quickly discovered his passion for engaging with the community instead. Ben describes different jobs at an airport and in the aviation field in general. He goes into the different duties of those jobs, and the ups and downs that go along with them. The Junior Achievement student question is provided by Allison Gause from Pleasant Valley High School. Ben’s answer highlights how there’s not always only one pathway to get to where you want to be.
  • Join Matt and Melissa for this episode of A Real Piece of Work as they speak with Benjamin Leischner, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Quad Cities International Airport. Ben talks about how he thought he wanted to be a pilot and quickly discovered his passion for engaging with the community instead. Ben describes different jobs at an airport and in the aviation field in general. He goes into the different duties of those jobs, and the ups and downs that go along with them. The Junior Achievement student question is provided by Allison Gause from Pleasant Valley High School. Ben’s answer highlights how there’s not always only one pathway to get to where you want to be.
  • Meet Sarah Garthaus, Director of Virtual Design at IMEG Corp. On this episode of A Real Piece of Work Matt and Melissa talk to Sarah about the winding path she took to find her dream job in engineering, and how it’s okay to shift career paths and take risks to find the job you really want. Sarah also shares tips to help students who are interested in a manufacturing design career get started. The Junior Achievement student question is provided by Rebekah VanHoe from Alleman Catholic High School.
  • Meet Sarah Garthaus, Director of Virtual Design at IMEG Corp. On this episode of A Real Piece of Work Matt and Melissa talk to Sarah about the winding path she took to find her dream job in engineering, and how it’s okay to shift career paths and take risks to find the job you really want. Sarah also shares tips to help students who are interested in a manufacturing design career get started. The Junior Achievement student question is provided by Rebekah VanHoe from Alleman Catholic High School.
  • On this episode of A Real Piece of Work, Matt and Melissa connect with Tom Terronez, CEO of Medix Dental and Terrostar. Tom is a true entrepreneur, starting his first business during high school and growing from there. Tom shares his passion for IT and working with clients. When asked what drives him, he shares how he loves to see the industry grow and constantly strives for the next best thing. The Junior Achievement student question is provided by Kody Weininger from North Scott High School.
  • On this episode of A Real Piece of Work, Matt and Melissa connect with Tom Terronez, CEO of Medix Dental and Terrostar. Tom is a true entrepreneur, starting his first business during high school and growing from there. Tom shares his passion for IT and working with clients. When asked what drives him, he shares how he loves to see the industry grow and constantly strives for the next best thing. The Junior Achievement student question is provided by Kody Weininger from North Scott High School.