2022 Melwood Ability Awards Honors Leaders Advancing Opportunities for People with Disabilities
June 27, 2022
Melwood honors Chairman Robert “Bobby” C. Scott (VA-03), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), HOK, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Paralympian gold medalist Rebecca Meyers
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – Melwood, a leading national employer, advocate and preferred provider for people with disabilities, today announced the honorees for the 2022 Melwood Ability Awards. The awards ceremony, to be hosted in-person on Wednesday, July 27, will feature honorees in the Accelerator, Advocacy, Impact and Teamwork award categories, recognizing the people and organizations championing a more inclusive world for people with disabilities.
“At Melwood, we believe the only way to realize our vision of a world where people with disabilities are fully included is to come at it from every angle,” said Larysa Kautz, president and CEO, Melwood. “The 2022 Melwood Ability Awards’ honorees are leading the way in disability inclusion through research and design, workplace innovation, self-advocacy and critical policy initiatives. We’re thrilled to celebrate our winners during an event that brings together members of Congress, Biden Administration officials and key leaders in the disability advocacy space.”
The honorees for the 2022 Melwood Ability Awards include:
The 2022 Advocacy Award co-honorees are Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, House Committee on Education and Labor (VA-03), and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05). Chairman Scott and Rep. McMorris Rodgers have been on the front lines of policy efforts impacting employment opportunities for people with disabilities, tirelessly fighting for a more just and equitable system that affirms the value and contributions people with disabilities make to our workforce and economy. Their bipartisan effort to eliminate section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which currently allows companies holding 14(c) certificates to subject employees with disabilities to timed productivity tests and pay them below the minimum wage, is a remarkable beacon of leadership.
“Empowering workers with disabilities is critical to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion – not only for our businesses – but for our communities. For too long, the 14(c) subminimum wage has denied equal opportunity for many workers with disabilities. I will continue to champion legislative solutions that would help businesses shift their business models to hire workers with disabilities and pay them the full federal minimum wage,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. “I am honored to receive this award and grateful to Melwood for raising awareness, providing resources, developing trainings and forging partnerships so that all workers can succeed.”
“Disability employment is the next policy frontier to empower people with disabilities to live full and independent lives,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “Unfortunately, people with disabilities struggle to find a job that gives them dignity, purpose and the opportunity for a better life. I’m honored to receive this award and look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure more people – who are ready, willing and able to work – find employment.”
The 2022 Accelerator Award winner is HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. HOK’s pioneering research on the importance of neurodiversity in designing public spaces, including cultural institutions, community amenities and workplaces, is helping to reimagine a more inclusive world that breaks down barriers and empowers people with and without disabilities to participate and succeed in community life.
“At HOK, we are passionate about creating spaces that challenge misconceptions and accelerate access for people with disabilities,” said Kay Sargent, Senior Principal and Director of WorkPlace, HOK. “Being recognized as a Melwood Ability Award honoree serves as a reminder to keep innovating and driving more solutions to quite literally build more inclusive communities.”
The 2022 Impact Award honoree is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). After being the first government agency to participate in the Neurodiverse Federal Workforce Pilot, NGA has demonstrated its commitment to expand opportunities for people with disabilities in the workforce. By embracing neurodiversity in the intelligence community, NGA has expanded understanding of the types of jobs people with disabilities can hold and the vital contributions they can make.
“We were pleased and honored to take part in the Neurodiverse Federal Workforce Pilot. Neurodiverse individuals are a valuable part of our workforce and we are learning more and more about how to leverage their unique skills and abilities,” said NGA Deputy Director Tonya Wilkerson. “We hope to inspire other organizations across the public and private sectors to seek out populations that will add to the diversity and success of our team.”
The 2022 Teamwork Award is awarded to Rebecca Meyers, two-time Paralympian and three-time gold medalist. In a brave act of self-advocacy, Meyers opted out of the 2020 Paralympics when her request to bring a personal care assistant was denied. Her decision not only inspired people with disabilities around the globe to know and advocate for their needs, but also spotlighted the important role of direct support professionals in creating a more inclusive world.
“As a Paralympian, nothing is more important to me than teamwork and creating truly inclusive spaces is a team effort,” said Meyers. “I’m thankful to receive this award from Melwood as we continue to raise awareness around the importance of self-advocacy, accommodations and direct support professionals.”
The 2022 Melwood Ability Awards will be held on Wednesday, July 27, at Top of the Hill on Constitution Avenue. For more information, visit https://melwood.org/ability-awards.
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 www.Melwood.org.
Vice President of Government and Public Relations