Larysa Kautz is President & CEO of Melwood, a leading employer and advocate for people with disabilities headquartered in the DMV. Kautz brings nearly 20 years of experience in law, business, advocacy, and nonprofit management to the role, driving practical policy change to expand the field of employment for people with disabilities and create a more inclusive workplace for the future. Kautz has been instrumental in advocating for the abolition of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers to pay workers with disabilities below minimum wage.
Larysa previously served as Melwood’s General Counsel and Chief of Staff.
After receiving her law degrees from Yale Law School (JD) and the Georgetown University Law Center (LLM, tax), Larysa focused her career on affordable housing development, venture philanthropy, and advising national and international nonprofits. Prior to joining Melwood, Larysa was a partner at the Schaner & Lubitz law firm and served as counsel at Bingham McCutchen (now Morgan Lewis).
As a first-generation American, a daughter of parents with invisible disabilities, and a mother of a child with autism, Larysa is passionate about Melwood’s mission of inclusion and has been a fierce advocate for individuals with disabilities throughout her life. She founded Melwood’s Advocacy department, which has significantly increased the organization’s effectiveness at influencing polices and legislation that benefit the communities that Melwood serves, including people with disabilities and injured veterans. Larysa has also been instrumental in advocating for the abolition of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers to pay workers with disabilities below minimum wage.
Larysa serves on the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce Board. She previously served as a consultant to President Obama’s Office of White House Counsel, Virginia Governor Northam’s Transition Team, the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) State Rehabilitation Council, the Foundation for the National Archives, and Lawyers for Good Government.
Larysa was named one of the 2017 Leading Women in Maryland by The Daily Record, has been honored by the Association of Corporate Counsel with the 2019 In-House Innovator Award, and is an alumna of the Arlington Leadership Center for Excellence.
Outside of work, Ms. Kautz enjoys sailing and ballroom dancing. She lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband, Ryan; their son, Symon; and their dogs, Lucky and Ziggy.