Mel Knowlton

Mel Knowlton, PAR’s expert Policy Consultant, is one of the Commonwealth’s most respected and consulted experts in intellectual disability and autism. Mel’s lifetime of commitment to people with disabilities began professionally as a vocational trainer working with individuals with intellectual disability in Minnesota. He quickly became a vocational workshop supervisor, then becoming the first Residential Director at Eastern Nebraska Community Office of Retardation (ENCOR) in Omaha, Nebraska. ENCOR was respected as the nation’s first community to develop a comprehensive community-based service system. His work and reputation in Nebraska led to him being recruited to PA where he led groundbreaking efforts to develop community residences, early intervention services, employment services and help write the first Medicaid waivers for Pennsylvania. Through his extraordinary career he was a protégé and peer of many of the greatest leaders in the ID/A reform movement as he worked with luminaries such as Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger. His leadership in the PA Office of Developmental Programs helped the Commonwealth close state institutions moving to a community based system, establish family support programs, prevent abuse and neglect and enrich the lives of thousands of Commonwealth citizens with ID/A. His rich knowledge of the ID/A field and his fervent belief in community, integration, self-advocacy and family empowerment continues to help PAR Members develop extraordinary services and supports.