Today’s power house Philly female is the gorgeous Melissa Lee from The Green Program. She co-founded an amazing company while still in college, loves to travel, and is an inspiration for all ambitious women. And yes, she quoted The Matrix below. #winningLadies and gents, meet Melissa Lee!
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do?
I am the CoFounder & CEO of The GREEN Program. We create short-term, high impact career accelerating programs abroad in Iceland, Peru and Philadelphia in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability for university students.
3. What neighborhood in Philly do you call home?
4. What is your favorite thing right now about Philly?
Opportunity and rich culture. This city really does not get the credit it deserves. I’ve lived here for two years and fall in love with this city more and more everyday. There are many opportunities to grow professionally, and personally. The rich culture that Philadelphia has is incredible too. Every weekend there is a different cultural festival, concert, foodie event, theatre performance, you name it. I’m proud to live in a city that also puts its residents’ social happiness and cultures as a priority.
5. What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far?
Being able to know that my team has been able to create what we have from scratch as college students. This is a bootstrapped company that started five years ago, and together we’ve pushed through every challenge and hurdle along the way to make this an international demand in the higher education industry.
6. If not yourself, who would you like to be?
Beyonce, obviously. But just for one day. I also would love to step into the shoes of Hatshepsut, the first woman Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, Mother Theresa, and Ellen. All on different days of course. These questions are fun.
7. Your idea of happiness.
Living simply, eating and drinking well, and traveling a whole lot with my close friends and family.
8. Guiltiest pleasure?
Bizarre foods. The weirder the better.
9. Favorite inspirational quote?
I have a ton, but I’ll reference Morpheus from Matrix for this one – “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
10. What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Their intelligence, boldness, selflessness, and thirst for adventure.
11. Favorite food in Philly?
That’s not even a fair question. Everyday we have options from SO many different types of cuisines. I would say Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern… in that order and within a 10 block radius from me.
12. Favorite drink in Philly?
13. Favorite song right now?
Chet Faker – 1998 probably because its The GREEN Program’s new theme song https://vimeo.com/
14. A book you plan on reading?
Finishing up the classic “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Vernes
15. A book that powerfully impacted your life?
I learned a lot about my style of leadership from my studies at school called “Positive Organizational Scholarship”, also “Tiny Buddha” by Lori Deschene.
16. Name one historical figure you would like to have coffee with.
Hatshepsut, the first woman Pharaoh in ancient Egypt and Mother Theresa.
17. How do you like your coffee?
Peruvian coffee is the best I’ve had yet. No milk or sugar needed.
18. Your main fault.
19. What is your most prized material possession?
The jewelry from my great grandmothers in Malaysia that have been passed down to me and I wear everyday.
20. Your biggest failure.
There are a lot of failures I’ve come across but I would have to say, many of them attribute to me not trusting my gut with certain decisions.
21. What you learned from that failure?
To trust my abilities more, to be more confident.
22. What is your greatest fear?
You’re asking a girl who spends all her time with environmental students and engineers trying to save the world. There are many fears that I hear about everyday with what I do, but my biggest fear is smart people sitting back and waiting for someone else to fix the problems our world faces.
23. Where will you be in 30 years?
Probably traveling all over the world for leisure or work. Either way, it’s one of my most fulfilling passions.
24. Favorite thing to do on a Sunday?
Relax! Walking around the city to explore some more hidden gems in the city. Explore some more foodie spots and the outdoors.
25. Best date spot?
Anywhere on/by the beach or outside in nature. Hike, paddle boarding, ziplining, glacier hiking, skydiving – the more adventurous the better in my book.
26. What does happiness mean to you?
Genuine moments of gratitude are what makes happiness for me. Whether its with friends, family, loved one, stranger, or alone in nature. Breaking through barriers to have a genuine connection with someone or yourself no matter where you are is happiness.
27. Twitter or Instagram?
@me1issalee for both
28. Describe Philly in a Tweet.
America’s next sustainability hub for innovation, history, and rich culture.
29. Who should everyone follow on Instagram?
Everyone needs to check out @GREENprogram to follow our students’ adventures abroad. Check out the trending hashtag #onlyontheGREENprogram too
30. Pats or Genos?
I’ve done both, but there are so many other spots that serve great Philly food that people need to check out!
#30Under30PHL is a month-long series highlighting Philadelphia’s most ambitious women. Created in collaboration with Femme & Fortune and Alex Kacala.