Understanding Our Differences Names Director of Development

Melissa Grossman
October 7, 2017 — Understanding Our Differences, a Newton-based nonprofit providing disability awareness education in the elementary school setting, recently announced that Melissa Grossman has been appointed director of development.

“As our organization’s first development hire, we are fortunate that Melissa has the background, expertise and personal qualities to help us grow our philanthropic capacity,” said Rebecca Lubens, executive director of Understanding Our Differences (UOD).

Grossman joins UOD as it begins a new initiative in its 40-year history. UOD fosters an inclusive culture, and combats intolerance and bullying in the schools and communities it serves currently. To meet the demand for the program and the needs of 21st century learners, UOD plans to move its disability awareness educational offerings to a digital platform and use educational technology to scale the program nationwide.

“I am very pleased to be joining Understanding Our Differences at this exciting time. UOD has program a forty-year track record helping students, parents and teachers understand those living with a variety of different abilities. I look forward to working with our leadership and supporters to help move UOD to the next level, and bring their exceptional curriculum to schools throughout the country,” said Grossman.

Grossman has more than 20 years of nonprofit development and programming experience with organizations of all sizes. Most recently, she worked at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, where she developed a fundraising campaign to celebrate the Institute's 20th anniversary and directed a national book and author program.

In addition to her professional experience, she is on the board of two organizations, Families First and Mediagirls.

Grossman is a graduate of Brandeis University and received her Master of Social Work degree from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University.

Founded in 1978 by parents of children with disabilities, UOD provides a broad-based educational program covering 10 disabilities and chronic medical conditions, presented to elementary school students by teachers and trained adult volunteers. Each two-hour presentation includes background information, interactive small-group activities and discussions, and a guest speaker with the disability who shares his or her story and answers students’ questions.

The organization’s goal is to transform schools and communities into places where differences are valued, students with disabilities are understood and respected, and all children are included.

For the year ending June 30, 2015, UOD reported $254,000 in revenue, of which $245,000 came from contributions and grants, and $167,000 in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.