Melissa Bacon is an experienced policy professional with more than 25 years in state government, legislative and executive, working on state and federal issues. As Deputy Director for the Bureau of Behavioral Health Policy, Bacon works with the Director and OhioMHAS leadership team to formulate the policies, strategies, procedures, and administrative rules necessary for defining agency goals and objectives, as well as develop policy papers to communicate key positions and initiatives.
Most recently, Bacon served as the director of Policy & Advocacy at Groundwork Ohio where she helped to advance research and data-driven policies to support the health and early education of Ohio’s youngest children and their families. As a member of the Groundwork Ohio team, she worked collaboratively through building and leveraging relationships in the legislative and executive branches of state government, as well as with health and human services partners also committed to improving the lives of young children. Before joining Groundwork Ohio, Bacon worked as the director of Government Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement for OCALI, a nonpartisan organization advancing policies that improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. During her tenure, she co-led the OCALI Office of Policy and the Interagency Workgroup on Autism, focusing on developing relationships with members of the General Assembly and the Administration as well as other policy advocacy organizations. While at OCALI, she advanced issues such as social emotional education, early intervention, Medicaid managed care and waiver services, state scholarship programs for the education of children with disabilities, ending custody relinquishment for families in need of crisis services for their child, and leveraging technology to advance independence for individuals with disabilities.
Prior to OCALI, Bacon worked in several health and human services state agencies as a member of leadership teams during the Kasich Administration. She served as the Chief of Policy and Communications for the Ohio Department of Health; Assistant Policy Director for Health and Human Services for Governor Kasich; and Director of Government Affairs for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. From this work she learned the value of cross agency systems work, strong stakeholder relations, and shared policy agenda setting. In addition, Bacon worked as the director of Policy and Stakeholder Engagement for the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University and began her career as a Page and Legislative Aide for the Ohio Senate. Bacon lives with her partner in Columbus and is the proud mother of three young women ages 22, 20 and 17. When her oldest daughter was diagnosed at an early age with Autism Spectrum Disorder, she became a passionate advocate for policies to advance early screening and diagnosis for children with developmental delays, access to necessary interventions and supports for children and families, and policies that meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and support for their families across the lifespan.