Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Melmark

Melmark is committed to continue building upon the organization’s rich history of providing an inclusive culture to every individual we serve, every employee, and to every family member who relies on our services. We are committed to listening, learning and speaking up for our diverse community. Growing our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives is critical to workforce satisfaction, better clinical practice systems, and increased access to Special Education and adult services, which also is consistent with our long-standing mission, vision, and core commitments.


From our Board of Directors, President and CEO, as well as our State Divisional Leadership, we welcome you to join with us as we all continue to adapt and grow with a deep personal and professional commitment to these initiatives.


View Melmark’s 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION: A Timeline of Melmark’s Continued Commitment

Since Melmark’s founding in 1965, our focus on inclusion and equality has remained intertwined with our mission and includes work at the state and federal policy level to remove barriers to special education and disability services across Pennsylvania, New England, and the Carolinas as well as advocacy toward equal pay for equal work for our employees. Our work is ongoing and we realize there is much to be done. Some of the important efforts Melmark has taken to lead real change throughout our communities from 1965 to the present are organized under the headings below and include:

► Continually Building on Our History of Leadership and Delivering on Our Mission

A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, including strategic goals, objectives and key performance indicators developed; foundation of overall Strategic Plan
Formation of a Cross-Divisional DEI Committee, with DEI Leaders and Cultural Ambassadors in each division
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training with Senior Leadership led by the Institute for Diversity Certification; 19 senior leaders credentialed as Certified Diversity Executives
National informational presentations on trends, wage suppression, pay equity and the work of Direct Service Providers in Pennsylvania
Melmark Carolinas founded in response to children in North and South Carolinas, often minorities, denied access to Free Appropriate Public Education through homebound instruction
A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, including strategic goals, objectives and key performance indicators developed; foundation of overall Strategic Plan Formation of a Cross-Divisional DEI Committee, with DEI Leaders and Cultural Ambassadors in each division
Enhancing diversity among leadership teams across divisions
Building race, gender, and expertise diversity among Board of Directors members
Melmark’s first Residential Treatment Facility opened in Pennsylvania serving a significant number of children from diverse backgrounds and high intensity behavioral needs
Melmark New England founded day program services
Melmark New England founded residential services in response to children in need of high acuity complex care through FAPE services.

► Serving Our Communities

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion updates communicated regularly, internally in bi-weekly newsletters and externally on the website and in print and online publications
Website display with language translation services
Increased translation services provided to Melmark families in various formats such as town halls and newsletters, and clinical meetings
Development of internship opportunities in partnership with the Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School network’s corporate work-study program, which serves predominantly, racially diverse underserved students
Collaboration with the Massachusetts Special Commission Relative to Autism to ensure equal access to autism programs for all children, adults, and their families
Expert Speaker Series addressing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matters, open to all staff, families, and community members


► Ensuring Culturally Responsive, Equitable Care

Membership on Governor Patrick and Governor Baker’s Autism Commission


Collaboration on the Autism Omnibus Bill; A requirement that MassHealth cover medically necessary treatments for children with Autism who are under 21 years of age, improving access and equity to services
Review of statewide restraint data including analyzing why students of color in Massachusetts have increased restraints
Work with the Boston Mayor’s Summit on Autism to enhance equal access to education and related services for all students
Participation in policy development across state divisions, collaborating with Massachusetts Advocates for Children
Medicaid Waiver Program for children from diverse Massachusetts communities facing socioeconomic and language barriers
Contract with Lawrence Public School District in MA to improve services for 250+ children with diverse backgrounds
Relationships with governmental entities for underserved communities to bring equality to service availability
Work with the Autism Commission Earmark for underserved communities
Work with Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts to ensure access to all adult services, for diverse individuals
Collaboration with Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services


► Increasing Opportunity, Inclusion and Belonging in the Workplace

Introduction of Cultural Ambassador roles to collaborate with leadership and the DEI committee on policy development, communications, and professional development opportunities across divisions
Advocacy for equal pay for equal work for Direct Support Professionals, in Pennsylvania, bringing to statewide government agencies and trade associations
Ensuring the diversity of leadership staff through clear professional career path opportunities and plan
Increasing access to professional credentials for all Melmark staff through the development of an affordable graduate training program with tuition reimbursement from Melmark. What began in partnership with the University of Massachusetts, has expanded to multiple relationships with colleges and universities across Melmark’s state divisions, that continues currently


Click here to download the full Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Timeline as a PDF

Rita Gardner, President & CEO of Melmark was interviewed by David Minot, Executive Director of Mental Health News Education for the
Autism Spectrum News Spotlight on Excellence series, where she spoke about Melmark’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitment.
*Time segment: 5:23 – 7:46