Meet Melanie Hecker

Melanie is a 26 year old full time Masters in Public Administration student at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany in Albany NY. She earned a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in May 2019 in Public Policy and Management from the same college. Melanie is a founding member and current Vice President of the University of Albany’s chapter of Delta Alpha Pi Disability Honor Society as well as holding a position on the New York State Independent Living Council Youth Subcommittee. She also serves as the co-chair of Congregation Ohav Shalom’s Inclusion Committee. 

  • Melanie’s current project is as co-principal investigator on a research study with START Services concerning the public’s experiences with prescription psychiatric medication. She also serves on their research consortium board of Directors. Ms Hecker is also currently interning at the New York State Council on Children and Families.  In 2019, she won Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley’s Beacon Leadership Award. That same week, she gave the student commencement address at the Rockefeller College Undergraduate Recognition Ceremony. She interned at Disability Rights New York during Fall 2018.
  • Melanie worked at YOUTH POWER! as the systems advocate for four years. While attending Hudson Valley Community College (earning an AS 2016) she interned at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. 


Recent Presentations

  • Spoke at the New York State Disability Services Council Higher Education Advocacy Day Press Conference at the New York State Capitol, 2019 and 2020. Recognized as a champion of students with disabilities by the New York State Senate, 2020. 
  • Addressing the topics of Autism and Mental Health Melanie is the plenary speaker at the 2018 Transforming Care Conference: Transforming Care through System Integration and Communication in Asheville NC. She was the highest rated presenter at the conference.
  • November 2017 Presented to an OT Assistant Class at Maria College. 
  • March 2016 Keynote speaker First National START Training Conference, Atlanta GA.
  • April 2015 Skidmore College Autism Awareness Day. Spoke at a seminar about people in the community with autism.