MELANIE PERKINS MCLAUGHLIN - UNITED STATES

Filmmaker, USA

Melanie Perkins McLaughlin is a documentary filmmaker, a disability rights advocate, public speaker and the mother of three children, the youngest of whom has Down syndrome.

In 2007 she independently produced film, "Have You Seen Andy?", the personal story of the search for answers to the disappearance of her childhood friend, broadcast on HBO winning a National Emmy Award for Best Investigative Journalism. That same year Perkins McLaughlin received a prenatal diagnosis: her third child had Trisomy 21 and a congenital heart defect.

Since her daughter’s birth Perkins-McLaughlin has become a public spokesperson on disability and civil rights issues. She has been interviewed nationally by TIME magazine, CBS News, USA Today, HBO, ABC, Japanese Public Broadcasting (NHK), National Public Radio, Fox News and the BBC.  She has presented on prenatal ethics and disability awareness issues with Harvard University Medical School, Tufts Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine and Brandeis University.

She is currently a First Call parent volunteer with the Mass Down Syndrome Congress where she offers a unique and non-judgmental perspective on prenatal diagnosis. She was the inaugural Allen C. Crocker Family Fellow with the Institute for Community Inclusion and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. And she recently produced a series of short films for the National Down Syndrome Society’s “My Great Story” public awareness campaign. She is the co-chair of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Special Advisory Committee, a family faculty member of Boston Children’s Hospital Institute for Professional Ethics and a family faculty member for The Arc of MA Operation House Call. In the Spring of 2016 McLaughlin will begin a graduate program in Human Development and Psychology (Child Advocacy) at Harvard University.