Melissa joins The Arc of Larimer County with a PhD in Sociology from the University of South Florida and over ten years of experience working in everything from early childhood to higher education. Her dissertation research examined issues of access and inclusion nearly thirty years post-ADA and offered practical policy and advocacy solutions to make sure all persons with disabilities are able to participate in their communities to the fullest extent. Her work has been published in some of the top research journals in her field, including Research in Social Science and Disability. Melissa is excited to join The Arc of Larimer County as a Youth Advocate, and comes from a long line of disability advocates; her grandfather Albert “Spud” Schmickel opened one of the first residential living programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New England in the 1960s and 70s. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her son, horseback riding, and tending to her ever-growing collection of houseplants.