As the Lead Certified Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) for Able SC’s Work Incentives Planning & Assistance (WIPA) Able to Work Program, Melissa leads her team of benefits counselors in promoting employment for people with disabilities and working to dispel myths about employment and receiving benefits. She travels to different priority populations in the disability community and has trained hundreds of consumers and professionals on working and benefits. She served on our state’s Person-Centered Planning Workgroup, a collaborative effort to ensure South Carolinians receiving Home and Community Based Services are provided services in a person-directed way. As a member of this Workgroup she has trained hundreds of professionals, waiver participants, and their families on how a person-directed services approach can be the driving force in their journey to leading more independent lives. Melissa also serves on the South Carolina Disability Employment Coalition’s Centralized Outreach Committee that is responsible for planning and conducting monthly Benefit Workshops across the state.
As a young adult, Melissa trained to be a classical singer at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities and later at Mars Hill College, but then decided to pursue a more traditional career path. She took a position at a local hospital and it was there that she faced employment discrimination head-on and learned to advocate for herself to get the reasonable accommodations that she needed to succeed. Going through that experience made her aware of her true passion—advocating for people with disabilities. As a recipient of Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicaid Waivers, she has firsthand experience in successfully transitioning into the workforce and has a lot to offer her consumers.
Having lived through the journey that many of her consumers are hesitant to begin, she empowers them by sharing not only her personal experience but the knowledge she has gained by working with Able South Carolina in her previous positions which include running our Assistive Technology Re-Use Program, Information and Referral Specialist, & Volunteer Coordinator.