Melissa Marshall is the Director of Policy and Programs with the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, Inc. She is a Policy Advisor to World Institute on Disability (WID), consulting and advising WID on disability policy, including pending legislation and its impact on people with disabilities impacted by disasters. She has a leadership role in the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA), an innovative collaboration to increase the resources available to disability-led organizations before, during, and after disasters, facilitating Steering Team meetings, planning events, and serving as GADRA liaison between WID and the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.
Melissa has devoted her entire career to promoting access for and inclusion of people with disabilities. She has a physical disability and a psychiatric diagnosis. Melissa works to ensure that people with all disabilities, including mental health conditions, have equal access to disaster-related programs and services during disasters and public health emergencies by providing training in and writing about federal and local legal requirements for providing people with disabilities equal access to disaster-related programs and services, including evacuation, transportation, and sheltering. She develops and presents training in all aspects of state and federal disability rights laws and disability bias awareness.
She was the Research Director and contributor to the National Council on Disability publication, Preserving Our Freedom: Ending Institutionalization of People with Disabilities During and After Disasters” and was a co-author of Getting It Wrong: An Indictment with a Blueprint for Getting It Right: Disability Rights, Obligations and Responsibilities Before, During and After Disasters," which describes the experience of children and adults with disabilities who were impacted by federally declared disasters from August 2017 through January 2018.
Melissa was the first Program Director of the PAIMI (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) program in Connecticut; the founding Executive Director of the Disabilities Network of Eastern Connecticut; and is a former Executive Director of Advocacy Unlimited.
Preserving Our Freedom: Ending Institutionalization of People with Disabilities During and After Disasters, National Council on Disability, May 2019
Getting It Wrong: An Indictment with a Blueprint for Getting It Right: Disability Rights, Obligations and Responsibilities Before, During and After Disasters, Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, May 2018