BERWYN, PA — Rita M. Gardner, President and CEO of Melmark, Inc., has once again been recognized among the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts for 2023 by The Women’s Edge. This marks the sixth consecutive year that Gardner and Melmark have earned this prestigious recognition, which is published annually in the Women & Power issue of the Globe Magazine.
The list highlights 100 influential women from across Massachusetts who collectively generated over $84 billion in total revenue in 2022, demonstrating the significant role women play in driving the state’s economy.
Gardner leads Melmark’s nearly $110-million multi-state operations, which include premier private special education schools, adult programs, professional development, training, and research centers. Melmark serves individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, acquired brain injuries, medical fragility, and severe challenging behaviors. Currently, Melmark is expanding enrollment by 100% in their day schools across their three state divisions for 2023 – 2024.
As the co-founder of Melmark New England and Melmark Carolinas, Gardner is an accomplished legislative advocate. Her advocacy work has helped hundreds access their rights to free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and advanced services for individuals diagnosed with autism throughout the United States. She has also worked tirelessly to address pay equity in the field of human services, helping reduce the wage gap faced by direct support professionals.
Gardner’s influence extends to numerous advisory committees and boards. She serves on the Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) and Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM). She is a founding Board member of the National Council of Autism Providers (CASP) and is currently serving as vice chair. She also holds positions with the Virginia Institute of Autism and the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR) Board.
“It is a great honor to be recognized with this elite cohort of powerful and accomplished female leaders,” said Gardner. “At Melmark, we serve a vulnerable population and believe that our work and our advocacy is not just a job, but a responsibility to make a positive social impact on the lives of those we serve.”
Gardner earned her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University’s School of Public Health in the School of Medicine. She remains dedicated to every child, adult, and family served at Melmark, as well as every member of Melmark’s professional staff, always keeping Melmark’s mission at the heart of her professional standards.