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Leadership News Briefs

Melmark CEO Named Winner of the 2022 CBIZ Women Transforming Business Awards

Rita M. Gardner, President and CEO of Melmark, Inc. has recently accepted the 2022 CBIZ Women Transforming Business Awards as the Financial Strength and Overall Winner. Martha Stewart unveiled the news during a live event in Minneapolis, MN on April 26.

CBIZ Women Transforming Business Awards program

CBIZ is a $2.1 BIL professional consulting provider that works with businesses across the nation. This annual award program, powered by CBIZ Women’s Advantage, recognizes women in business for their success in advancing financial, cultural and innovational initiatives. Ms. Gardner was nominated for her leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During her acceptance remarks, Ms. Gardner thanked all of Melmark’s direct support professionals for always putting its mission of serving those with intellectual disabilities first.

“It’s such an honor to have received the nomination alongside this group of exceptional women leaders,” said Gardner. “I really want to share these two awards with all my team members who have worked tirelessly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, maintained the organization’s financial stability and continued to take their roles seriously for the vulnerable children and adults. They are truly determined. They make Melmark everything it is today.”

An advocate for individuals with autism

Rita M. Gardner, M.P.H., LABA, BCBA, is the co-founder of Melmark New England and Melmark Carolinas. She leads Melmark’s more than $100-million operations across all divisions. Melmark’s evidence-based programs serve individuals with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, brain injuries, medical fragility and severe challenging behaviors.

Gardner is an accomplished legislative advocate. One of her most notable achievements is her involvement in the establishment of multiple public policy pieces that improve services to students and adults with autism and their families.

Gardner received her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University’s School of Public Health in the School of Medicine. She holds the heart of Melmark’s mission at the core of her professional standards. She is dedicated to every child, adult and family served at Melmark, as well as every member of its professional staff.

About Melmark

Melmark is a multi-state human service provider with special education schools, professional development, training, and research centers. Programs and services include a day school, after-school and residential programs for children, as well as adult day and adult residential programs. Other services include public school consultation and family outreach services, a formal professional development program and an Expert Speakers Series. In addition, it creates and designs EnvisionSMART, which includes a series of practitioner manuals and software programs that replicate the Melmark Model of Program Development for public schools and other service providers. For more information, visit

About CBIZ Women’s Advantage

CBIZ Women’s Advantage (CWA)’s mission is to help women succeed in business. CWA helps create a competitive advantage for women through professional training, development, mentorship, recognition, and career enhancement. We also bring these same elements to women through various educational and networking events and charitable initiatives. For more information, visit

For more stories on inspiring female entrepreneurs, read our interview with Tatiana Alexa on Lioness.

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