Top 100 Women-Led Business for Fifth Year

Melmark President and CEO Named Among Top 100 of Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts for Fifth Consecutive Year

ANDOVER, Mass., BERWYN, Pa. and CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 8, 2022 — Rita M. Gardner, President and CEO of Melmark, Inc. has been named among The Women’s Edge’s list of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts for 2022. This is the fifth consecutive year Gardner and Melmark have made the list generated by The Women’s Edge (formerly The Commonwealth Institute) together with its partner The Boston Globe. The list includes elite business leaders from across the state of Massachusetts who generated nearly $72 billion in total revenue in 2021, demonstrating that women are key drivers of the state’s economy.


Rita M. Gardner, M.P.H., LABA, BCBA, CDE® leads Melmark’s almost $110-million multi-state operations across all of its divisions. Melmark’s programs include premier private special education schools, professional development, training and research centers. The organization’s clinically sophisticated, evidence-based programs serve individuals with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, acquired brain injuries, medical fragility and severe challenging behaviors.


Gardner, who is the co-founder of Melmark New England and Melmark Carolinas, is an accomplished legislative advocate, and her work has positively influenced services for individuals diagnosed with autism throughout the United States. One of her most notable accomplishments as an advocate is her involvement in the establishment of multiple public policy pieces that improve services to students and adults with autism and their families.


Gardner also serves on advisory committees with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) and Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM). She is an Advisory Board member to Autism Speaks and a founding Board member of the National Council of Autism Providers (CASP) and is currently serving as vice chair. Ms. Gardner also serves on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Institute of Autism and is a Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR) Board member. She has served as an appointed member of the Governor’s Autism Commission in Massachusetts, is the past President of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private School (MAAPS) and currently sits on its Executive Committee.


“It is an honor to be in company with so many esteemed and inspirational female executives,” said Gardner. “Engaging in the work of advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the diverse employees that serve them, and delivering the highest level of professionalism and care for every individual, every day, is central to Melmark’s mission. I am proud to lead this work alongside my highly skilled colleagues as Melmark New England looks forward to celebrating its 25th anniversary year serving individuals from this region and beyond.”


Gardner received her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University’s School of Public Health in the School of Medicine. Most important she holds the heart of Melmark’s mission at the core of her professional standards. She is dedicated to every child, adult and family served at Melmark, as well as every member of Melmark’s professional staff.


About Melmark

Melmark is a multi-state human service provider with premier special education schools, professional development, training, and research centers. Programs and services include children’s day schools, after-school and residential programs, adult day and adult residential programs. Other services include public school consultation and family outreach, early intervention services, a formal professional development program including onsite graduate education, an Expert Speakers Series and the creation and design of EnvisionSMART™, which includes a series of professional practitioner manuals and proprietary software programs designed to replicate the Melmark Model of Program Development for public schools and other service providers. Melmark is Mission First. Every Individual, Every Day.