As of this month, Access Press has a brand new Board of Directors. Two of the current three members Margot Imdieke Cross and Steve Kuntz will be staying on the Board. The third member, Bill Dessert, is taking his leave after more than four years of dedicated service (We say goodbye to Bill in the adjoining article.) In this article, the five new board members introduce themselves to our readers.
I am the Manager of the Advocacy Department at The Metropolitan Center For Independent Living. I have been an advocate for people with disabilities for over 20 years. My experience with different aspects of disability public policy is diverse.
I currently serve on a number of committees and boards, many of which relate to Work Incentives, media, and transit issues. I have been a guest speaker for a portion of a course on “Leadership For The Common Good,” focusing on people with disabilities and the public policy change cycle at The Humphrey Institute. I have also worked as a private consultant doing diversity training with The Terry Group in a program called “Crossing Bridges,” which I helped to create.
My previous service includes work with The Minnesota State Council On Disability and on The U.S. WEST Motion/Vision/Speech Consumer Advisory Panel.
I have coordinated and written a monthly column on disability culture in Access Press. I have also acted as occasional host of the weekly radio show, “Disabled & Proud, It’s Not An Oxymoron.”
I am a graduate of The College Of Saint Catherine with a Bachelor’s in social work, and a second major in radio and TV production. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in public affairs, with a focus in nonprofit management, at The Humphrey Institute.
Mary Kay Kennedy
Access Press plays an important role in promoting disability as a civil rights issue. Social change work requires connecting people across issues and communities. Access Press has helped self-advocates at Advocating Change Together (ACT) take a rightful and equal place in the larger disability rights movement. Charlie was a leader in helping cross-disability groups see that our struggles and victories are all connected. Tim is clearly carrying on this important role. As a new board member I will have the opportunity to work with the Access Press team to maintain and strengthen the paper’s long tradition of keeping the disability community informed and connected.
My work at ACT has given me some valuable insights about how nonprofit/social change organizations operate. A big part of my job has been the behind-the-scenes stuff necessary to do the real, mission work. I have learned a lot over the years about building organizational supports and structures that allow the values and mission to shine through.
I look forward to sharing with Access Press what I have learned through my successes and flops at ACT. I know it will be fun and rewarding to work with Tim and the other talented and committed folks at Access Press.
I will do my best to make a meaningful contribution to a paper that means so much to so many.
Due to my past intimate connection with Access Press, I am passionately interested in being part of its future. The founding and growth of Access Press over the past eleven years has been an awesome evolution. I am honored to take part in helping AP continue its mission. Being Charlie Smith’s sister, my family and I got to know many good people whom Charlie had befriended over time.
My experience is largely that of living with, being concerned about, and loving a person with a disability and being part of a family that expected every member to live fully in society. I’ve grown up expecting to find ways into places while being aware of how inaccessible places can be for people in wheelchairs. I’ve witnessed firsthand the prejudice a person with a disability can face. I am eager to help inform and empower all who are in and around the disabled community.
My skills and knowledge regarding the public assistance system, and many of the programs, may also be useful to the paper and the Board of Directors.
I have been employed by the Social Security Administration for 16 years and currently serve as a Work Incentive Specialist in the PASS (Plan for Achieving Self Support) program in the St. Paul District Office.
In my capacity as PASS Specialist, I provide support, services, and training to clients and advocates in Minnesota and Wisconsin. On a national level in 2000, I served as a speaker at the Maryland SSA public forum, representing SSA as a PASS expert. I also served as a presenter at the national Native American Conference in Nevada, showcasing my assistance to Native American clients. I have been actively involved in the University of Minnesota Transitional projects, and have been successful in highlighting my clients’ success stories in SSA publications and the SSA website.
I hold a BS in psychology from Michigan State University and worked there as a research assistant in the Department of Psychology. I also have five years of experience at U.S. West Direct as an advertising consultant.
I am a strong and vocal advocate for the disabled and work incentives. I will bring two primary skills to the Access Press Board: one, a positive and energetic attitude; and two, an extensive knowledge of work incentives (including the Ticket to Work legislation) that will benefit the community served by Access Press.
I am currently working as a Policy Specialist in the Community Quality Initiatives division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services Continuing Care Administration for People with Disabilities. My previous positions have included work at the University of Minnesota’s Diversity Institute and Disability Services offices, Courage Center, and the Minnesota State Council on Disability.
I have taught classes on disability and human relations. I have a Master’s degree in counseling psychology with a rehabilitation emphasis. I have also been active in many community organizations including the Hopkins Human Rights Commission, the Metro Center for Independent Living (Board Chair), the Disability Institute (Board Chair), and Sojourner Domestic Abuse Project Board.
I look forward to contributing to Access Press in any way I can, as I think it is such an important resource for our community of people with disabilities. I want to be a part of carrying out the vision that Charlie had of raising the awareness of our issues to create a better society for those of us with disabilities, our families, friends, and allies.