2021 MELWOOD Ability Awards Recognize Leaders Advancing Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

2021 MELWOOD Ability Awards Recognize Leaders Advancing Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

October 13, 2021

Melwood honors CAI’s Autism2Work, Scott Robertson, PhD, & The Arc of Northern Virginia for contributing to workforce integration efforts


UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Melwood, a leading national employer and advocate for people with disabilities, hosted the 2021 Melwood Ability Awards on October 7 to celebrate the people and organizations impacting employment opportunities and advocating for a more inclusive workplace for people with disabilities and injured veterans.

The honorees for the 2021 Melwood Ability Awards included:

  • 2021 Advocacy Award – Scott Robertson, PhD, Senior Policy Advisor on the Employment-Related Supports (ERS) Policy Team in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
  • 2021 Impact Award – CAI’s Autism2Work (A2W) – A Neurodiversity Program
  • 2021 Resiliency Award – The Arc of Northern Virginia

The awards ceremony was hosted by Andrea Roane, former television journalist for WUSA Channel 9, and featured a fireside chat with Melwood President and CEO, Larysa Kautz and former Congressman and original sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Honorable Anthony “Tony” Coelho. The ceremony also included a silent auction with proceeds benefitting Melwood’s programming and featured special appearances from Senator Ben Cardin (Md.), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.-05), Congressman Jamie Raskin (Md.-08), Congressman Seth Moulton (Mass.-06), and Congressman Bobby Scott (Va.-03).

“To continue advancing our vision of a workforce and world more inclusive of people of all abilities, it’s vital to take time to reflect and celebrate how far we’ve come,” said Larysa Kautz, Melwood President and CEO. “At this year’s Melwood Ability Awards, we recognized the work of some outstanding individuals and organizations in our community doing groundbreaking work. This celebration would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, who should also be recognized for their commitment to expanding the field of employment for people with disabilities.”

Top Empowerment sponsors of the 2021 Melwood Ability Awards included the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans; NFP Meltzer, a leading insurance broker and consultant providing specialized property and casualty, corporate benefits, retirement and individual solutions; and Cybrary, a cybersecurity and IT workforce development platform.

The 2021 Melwood Ability Awards were held in conjunction with the Inclusion Through Policy Innovation Conference as Melwood celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Inclusion Through Policy Innovation Conference will be held as a virtual weekly conference series running October 14-November 18. Registration information can be found here.



About CAI’s Autism2Work

CAI’s Autism2Work (A2W) program partners with businesses to provide a unique employment model specifically designed to bring the untapped talent pool of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) into the client’s workforce. CAI manages not only the recruiting, selection and training of team members, but also the cultural integration, supervision, skill development, and ongoing performance management. A2W supports individuals diagnosed with ASD who are eager to enter a work environment that values their contributions and supports their needs. CAI’s A2W initiative allows businesses to implement a diversity and inclusion program for those diagnosed with ASD that is tailored to the business’ culture and needs which fully supports and is focused on the ASD community.


About the Arc of Northern Virginia

The Arc of Northern Virginia was founded in 1962 and serves over 39,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD)–such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and rare chromosomal disorders–and their families in the cities and counties of Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church. Our programs include webinars, and workshops on the topics of early intervention, education, transition, employment, housing, and aging with a disability.

About Melwood

Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people with disabilities. Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also has an inclusive summer camp program for children and provides employment and support services to veterans and active-duty military members who have experienced service-related trauma or injury. For more information, visit

Media Inquiries

Jewelyn Cosgrove
Vice President of Government and Public Relations
O: 240-846-3952
[email protected]


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