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Melissa Diomond


Upon realizing the lack of opportunities for many children with autism globally, Melissa set a goal to make autism services universally accessible. Her work with families of children with autism in Jenin, Palestine is recognized by international organizations including The United Nations, The Clinton Global Initiative University, and The Resolution Project.

“Impossible only means that you haven’t found the solution yet.”


countries explored


Jenin Community members educated about autism


things left to learn

Protect your courage

After seeing the lack of autism services available to families in the West Bank and realizing how different the life of her friend with autism would have been had she been born outside of the United States, Melissa set out to make affordable autism services accessible to all, regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.

Her program, A Global Voice for Autism, empowers communities to support their own children with autism through parent training cooperatives, family support groups and community education and awareness campaigns. You can learn more about A Global Voice for Autism at: In addition to running A Global Voice for Autism, Melissa is a student at the University of Richmond. However, her time at the university has been far from traditional. In the fall of 2013 she spent the semester studying abroad on a human rights program in Nepal, Jordan and Chile. She then spent her spring 2014 semester living in Jenin, Palestine, launching A Global Voice for Autism’s first program site with a team of autism professionals. A Boatwright Scholar and Resolution Fellow, Melissa will graduate from the University of Richmond in May 2015 with a self-designed major in Peace and Conflict and a minor in Gender Studies. Melissa wants to use her time at Watson to continue exploring ways to expand A Global Voice for Autism so that all families will have access to these services. She believes that anyone can create positive change in the world and that this change starts by making an effort to understand situations that we have not previously been challenged to understand.