Director, Special Needs Program
A specialist in creative programming for developmentally disabled adults and children, Melanie Mandel has directed 92nd Street Y's special needs program since 1997. She is responsible for coordinating afterschool and evening programs for children, young people and adults with disabilities. Ms. Mandel oversees The Nesher Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities, which offers children and teens 4 to 20 afterschool and Sunday activities in the arts, science, cooking, music, yoga, sports and fitness, and Judaic enrichment. In 2001, she launched a two-tiered recreation and socialization program for 20- to 29-year-old adults. The Friendship Project is for those able to travel independently, and Time Together is for those needing a more structured environment. Ms. Mandel also runs a New York State RMR (Recreation for the Mentally Retarded) program at 92Y through which developmentally disabled adults received education about Jewish life and rituals; facilitates the mainstreaming of youngsters with special needs into 92Y's 92Y After-School, and directs Camp Mini Tova, 92Y's summer camp for children with special needs.
Before joining 92Y, Ms. Mandel supervised the Leisure Trax travel program at the National Institute for People with Disabilities, known as YAI, coordinating escorted recreation and vacation opportunities for both adults able to travel and manage their finances independently and those requiring assistance. She has also coordinated scouting for the handicapped for the Boy Scouts of America and managed recreation activities for the Supportive Advocacy Network. Ms. Mandel is an active member of The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH), an educational organization representing travelers with disabilities, and the New York State Special Olympics, which has recognized her for her 15 years of volunteer work.
Ms. Mandel received degrees in travel for special populations from Empire College and marketing and merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She lives in New York.