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Washington, DC – Well-known and respected advocate for people with disabilities, Melissa Ortiz, will lead the new Able Americans program, according to the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

“We’re fortunate to have someone as talented and experienced as Melissa join our team as the senior advisor for our important new Able Americans program,” said David Ridenour, president of NCPPR and father of two children on the autism spectrum. “We’re launching the program to help people with disabilities of all types live their most independent and rewarding lives. Melissa is the ideal leader to take on the Able Americans program which is one for which we both have a tremendous passion.”

Able Americans, initially founded by Mrs. Ortiz in 2011, will be relaunched in fall 2022 as the newest NCPPR program. It will address the many shortcomings of poorly-conceived, mismanaged and often counterproductive government programs, both at the state and federal level, in meeting the needs of those with disabilities. Able Americans will free millions of Americans with special needs – including wounded warriors, who have physical, intellectual, behavioral, developmental and other mental health disorders or substance abuse addictions – who are struggling under bureaucracy to access the care they need and live thriving lives.

“Meeting the needs of those with disabilities isn’t always about spending more money,” said Mr. Ridenour.  “Sometimes it is about government getting out of the way and not creating barriers for these citizens.”

In her new role, Mrs. Ortiz will develop the strategic plan for Able Americans, marshal key resources for the program and help oversee the implementation of the program. She will also assist the president in identifying necessary contractors, employees, strategic partners, stakeholders and donors as well as serve as a key spokesperson.

“I am delighted to be joining the strong team at NCPPR to lead these efforts. It’s a topic that is dear to me because of my own personal experiences of living with a disability. I am looking forward to working with the NCPPR team and creating new alliances to address the inequities faced by people with all types of disabilities,” said Mrs. Ortiz. “My end goal is to work in a cross-aisle capacity to give people of all abilities true equal opportunity for full inclusion and participation in American society. Having recently battled breast cancer, one specific area that I want to address is inequities in health care.”

Mrs. Ortiz identifies as a “happy warrior” and is enthusiastic about driving a dialogue between people living with disabilities or chronic illness and policy makers across the political spectrum, especially conservatives. She has worked in the classroom in Nashville, Tennessee and in the nonprofit sector in New York City and Washington, DC. She was honored to serve as President Trump’s Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities. The first female board member of The Conservative Caucus, one of the oldest conservative groups in existence, she currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband Tony and Service Dog Dachshund, Annie Oakley.


The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Contributions are tax-deductible and may be earmarked for any NCPPR projects. Sign up for email updates here.

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Author: The National Center