Martin Luther King said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” In reality, I think the arc of the moral universe is more like a roller coaster but hopefully, in the end, it will bend towards justice. When it does bend here Minnesota, we have Anne Henry to thank.
When I think of Anne, I think of another adjective—dogged—but not in a canine way. Well, maybe in a bulldog way. Whenever a moral dilemma presents itself, Anne is like a dog with a bone, she will not stop until she decides, and it’s finished and problem solved. Whether it’s taking on the tangle of Department of Human Services policies and procedures, the maze of legislation, and the data diving into the large legislative bill, or the advocacy for children, families, and who may be or may be, one of the vulnerable, Anne Henry is the champion. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to work with her, ask yourself how many times you’ve relied on her counsel, insights, and details to better inform others, your constituents about public policy and disability law? Ask yourself, who else is the fountain of this knowledge, and I doubt you could name another. Anne is the Wikipedia of disability issues in Minnesota.
Anne Henry is well respected and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Anne has the vision to recognize and add the tiny verbiage to a bill that makes all the difference, to catch the little phrase or a whole paragraph that would be the poison pill from legislation to new policy. She can bring forth from memory the sources that will inform our deliberations—and all the while keeping in mind who it is we are working to assist, and to empower in the community. Finally, I believe everyone is in awe of her courage, her willingness to speak the moral truth to those in power. As the Cowardly Lion says in the Wizard of Oz —who puts the ape in apricot—courage. Now that she is “retiring”, we have a challenge ahead of us who will take up the slack that her retirement will inevitably present itself to us. It has been an honor for all of us who have had the opportunity to know her and to work at her side.
Editor’s note: The tributes to Anne Henry and Steve Larson were written by MN-CCD Board Chairman Randall Bachman.