Melissa Ortiz, former HHS Commissioner office of Disabilities
Melissa is a powerful and passionate advocate for equality for all. She's a subject matter expert on disabilities in the workplace and everywhere else!
Not only is there a way through,
there is a way back, too.
Melissa has worked at the highest levels of the federal government on issues related to people with disabilities. Nothing has ever held her back!
She's prepared to help you with policies related to inclusion and equity for people with disabilities, to train your staff, and to deliver a powerful keynote that your audience will never forget!
She's One Of A Kind
Whether she’s sharing a memory, a laugh, or a perspective on thriving through adversity, anyone who encounters Melisa Ortiz is quick to learn that she is truly one of a kind.
Before being old enough to enter the first grade, Melissa had been both a poster child for a major charity and involved in a political campaign. While living with the challenge of a physical disability might give Ortiz license to feel like a victim, have a sense of entitlement, or minimally, be a bit grumpy, she is none of those things. She identifies as a “happy warrior” and is passionate about driving dialogue between conservatives and people living with disabilities. She is uniquely suited to bridge the gap between these two groups and is passionate about bringing them together to create solutions.
A native southerner who has spent periods of her life in Atlanta, Nashville, Jerusalem, and New York City, Ortiz has finally settled with husband Tony in the nation’s capital.
Melissa has worked in local government, on political campaigns and taught in private and public schools as well as homeschool co-ops. She credits her work with students one of her biggest accomplishments. One student sought out Ortiz years later and reminded her of the lesson she had taught him: “while your choices and actions do have an impact on who you are, they do not have to define you.” This is a message she shares with others on a daily basis.
She is zealous about creating an environment where everyone is heard. “I want to help society as a whole understand that ‘disability issues’ is not just about ‘angry people on wheels’,” said Ortiz.
Melissa is enthusiastic about working with both sides of the political aisle on behalf of Americans with disabilities. “While times are tough, I’m still proud to be an American. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together. A patriot desperately loves his or her country, be it good, bad or ugly.”
When asked what she is most passionate about, Ortiz said, “My faith in Jesus Christ, my husband and my country.” She adds with a smile, “and really good food.” When off the clock, Ortiz enjoys spending time with husband Tony and her service dog, a Dachshund named Annie Oakley. She prides herself on being a cutthroat board game player and doing the New York Times crossword puzzle each day in ink.