People and Places – August 2017

Fraser breaks ground on new Woodbury mental health clinic Fraser, Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of autism services, has […]

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Fraser breaks ground on new Woodbury mental health clinic

Fraser, Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of autism services, has announced the expansion into the Twin Cities east metro, serving Washington, Ramsey and Dakota counties. Fraser broke ground on its seventh mental health clinic in July at 721 Commerce Dr., Woodbury. Fraser Woodbury will be a state-of-the-art mental health clinic. The anticipated opening for the clinic is summer 2018.

The new clinic addresses the needs of families. About 1,000 families are waiting for services in St. Paul and the surrounding communities. Using data from the Center for Disease Control combined with census projections, more than 6,500 east metro families may need this new, state-of-the-art mental health treatment clinic within the next decade.

Fraser Woodbury will offer comprehensive autism and mental health evaluations, diagnostic and treatment services; autism and mental health day treatment; case management; applied behavioral analysis; and speech, occupational and physical therapy. Unique to Fraser, families will have the benefit of receiving multiple complementary services in one building. Research shows that treatment outcomes drastically improve when all therapies happen in one place. This model allows children to spend more time in direct treatment, decreases medical and travel costs for families and improves treatment outcome


Joseph Haj, Guthrie are honored

The Guthrie Theater and Artistic Director Joseph Haj and the Guthrie Theater were awarded the Rosetta LeNoire Award from Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). Ten Thousand Things Theater is also honored as a co-recipient.

The LeNoire Award was established in 1988 and recognizes outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American theater. The award is given to an individual, theater or producing organization with an exemplary record in the hiring or promotion of minorities, female actors and actors with disabilities through non-traditional and inclusive casting.

“I’ve been a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association for 30 years, and I have personal experience with the challenges that professional actors of color face,” said Haj. “For the last dozen years I have been in the position of leading organizations where we have developed expressed goals of being maximally inclusive to ensure opportunities for artists of color, women, and those with disabilities.”


Dayton announces appointees

Gov. Mark Dayton has announced appointments to several state boards, commissions and committees, including groups that serve Minnesotans with disabilities.

Four people were named to the state’s council on disability. Katherine MacDonald of Rochester replaces David Schwartzkopf. Joshua Melvin of Stillwater replaces Carlos Vasquez. Quinn Nystrom of Baxter replaces Nancy Rosemore.  Kathleen Peterson of Warren was reappointed.

Several new faces join returning members on the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. Lisa Emmert of Shakopee was appointed as a parent member, replacing Michael Stern. Sarah Mapellentz of West St. Paul was named Minnesota Department of Health representative, replacing Barbara Lundeen. Mary Martin of Hibbing was appointed as a parent member, replacing Katheyrn Ware. Noah McCourt was appointed as a self-advocate member, replacing Robbie Reedy. Randean Miller of Big Lake was appointed as a parent member, replacing Marisela Cantu. Jillian Nelson of Minneapolis was appointed as a self-advocate member, replacing Marrie Bottelson. Dan Reed of St. Paul was named private nonprofit representative, replacing Lynne Megan. Reid Scheller of Apple Valley was named self advocate member, replacing Mary Raasch. Lee Shervheim of Lino Lakes was appointed as a parent member, replacing Mary Hauffl.  Heather Tidd of Rosemount was appointed as a parent member, replacing Bonnie Jean Smith.

Michelle Albeck of Farmington was reappointed as a parent member. Ashley Bailey of Plymouth was reappointed as a self-advocate member. Alexandra Bartolic of Little Canada was reappointed as Minnesota Department of Human Services representative. Pamela Hoopes of Minneapolis was reappointed as the Minnesota Disability Law Center representative. David Johnson of Minneapolis was reappointed as the University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration representative. Eric Kloos of Roseville was reappointed as the Minnesota Department of Education representative. Carolyn Perron of Fridley was reappointed as the Board on Aging representative. James Lovold of St. Paul, was reappointed as a self-advocate member. Alan Wilensky of Minneapolis was reappointed as a parent member.

One appointee was announced for the Minnesota Assistive Technology Advisory Council. Abdi Matan of St. Peter replaces Sharie Hawkins as a public member.

Connie Lee Berg of Red Lake will be the new representative of the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Project on the State Rehabilitation Council. Berg replaces Gloria LaFriniere. Scott Berscheid of St. Michael replaces Brian Paulson as the council’s business, industry or labor representative. Chase Foreman of Minneapolis is also a business, labor or industry representative, replacing William Meyer.

Two people were appointed to the Commission of Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans. Rosanne Kath of Willmar is the new West Central representative, replacing Adrienne Haugen. Jamie Taylor of Maplewood was reappointed to an at-large seat.


Ombudsman volunteers honored for helping older Minnesotans

The Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, a program of the Minnesota Board on Aging, recognized 46 Certified Ombudsman Volunteers statewide at the recent Odyssey conference in Duluth.

“Our highly trained, dedicated volunteers donated a total of 4,092 hours this past year to help solve problems of people living in nursing homes and other long-term care settings and make a difference in these individuals’ lives,” said Cheryl Hennen, Minnesota’s state ombudsman for long-term care. “This is a critical service that helps to ensure that individual values, preferences, and rights are preserved throughout the health care continuum.”

Each regional ombudsman and volunteers work with consumers of long-term care. The ombudsman office helps to resolve disputes, complaints, and problems relating to the quality of care and services, quality of life, rights violations, access to services, service termination, discharge or eviction or public benefit programs.

Three communities had three honorees apiece. Cold Spring volunteers honored are Gary Hennen, Jo Hennen, and Betty Johnson. St. Cloud honorees are Donald Matakis, Lois Meiners, and Tom Oven. St. Paul volunteers are Sue Halverson, Halle O’Falvey, Neil Peterson and Barb Spears.

Other volunteers honored include Jim Sowles and Louise Sowles, Aitkin; Charlotte Hanson, Alexandria; Teia Koopmeiners, Avon; Edith Hoyum, Bemidji; Norma Macdonald-Ockwig, Bloomington; Kelli Turcotte, Brainerd; Chris Marcotte, Deer River; Marg France and Susan Spaeth, Duluth; RoseAnn Hansmeyer, Eagan; Yolanda Williams, Eden Prairie; (Suzanne) Mary Wright, Fridley; Marion Jacobson, Lake Park; Patricia McCormick, Merrifield; Larry Clausen, and Barb Risken, Minneapolis; Betty Clark, Moorhead; Dorothy Chizek, and Barbara McGinnis, Morris; Joy Meisa, and Audrey Wiita, Mountain Iron; Fred Simon, New Prague; Pat Loban, Pine River; Gloria Alexander and Ronna Locketz, Plymouth; Pat Westman, Roseau; Kathy Konstant, St. James; Virda Hall, Saginaw; Patricia Olson, Superior; Lois Tyrrell, Wadena; Gloria Cory, Wheaton, and David Odabashian, White Bear Lake.


AccessAbility, Inc. celebrates groundbreaking

AccessAbility, Inc. hosted a large group of its staff, board of directors, supporters, local community leaders and dignitaries at its July 14 groundbreaking ceremony.

The event at 360 Hoover St. NE, Minneapolis is the next step in the successful AbleTo Campaign. The AbleTo Campaign was launched in 2016 with the goal of raising $2 million for facility expansion and renovation to meet the changing needs of individuals served.

“As the demographic needs of our community change, so must our programs and our facilities,” said Barbara Arnold, President, and CEO of AccessAbility. “Not only is there an increased need for transitional employment and training for young adults entering the workforce, but people with disabilities are also living longer and need to be enhanced services and supports to successfully maintain their self-sufficiency.”

Facility improvements will address the need for larger spaces for programming, including improved wheelchair access, expanded and reconfigured entry space, additional restrooms, an expanded nursing station, and a better life skills training area. AccessAbility continues to seek donations to cover the full cost of the project. The AbleTo building project is expected to be completed by December 2017.

The Groves Foundation, a long-time champion of AccessAbility’s work, provided a cornerstone gift of $280,000 for the project. Mortenson Construction and their transformative Community Builders program, along with other generous community supporters made the groundbreaking possible. The Community Builders is comprised of a wide network of construction vendors committed to the philanthropic and material support of projects that advance the public good.

“AccessAbility provides person-centered services to people with barriers to employment no matter what stage of their life. We offer a continuum of vocational, social, and recreational programs from which people can choose. The AbleTo investment to renovate and upgrade our Hoover Street facility will enable AccessAbility to better meet both the current and future needs of so many people in our community,” said Arnold.

AccessAbility, Inc.’s mission is to provide opportunities for self-sufficiency to people with barriers to employment and community inclusion. To learn more about AccessAbility, go to


Lupus Link makes debut

Minnesotans who live with lupus have a new resource. Lupus Link has launched its new website and newsletter. Earlier this year the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota announced that it would give its resources to Lupus Link Minnesota. The foundation opted to dissolve in the face of increasingly unsustainable economic circumstances and announced that decision in January. Lupus Link Minnesota will use the foundation’s assets, including the endowment that will continue to fund lupus research.

The Link, the new newsletter, includes updates and information from Tharan Leopold, Lupus Link’s executive director. The newsletter describes the work done to make the transition to Lupus Link and provides information and resources. Learn more and sign up for the newsletter at


Weinberg steps down at AuSM

After four years Jonah Weinberg has stepped down as executive director of the Autism Society of Minnesota or AuSM. Weinberg and his husband are returning home to California to be closer to family.

“My time at AuSM has been extremely rewarding and educational,” Weinberg said. “Although I began my career as a teacher, and then moved on to work in social services, autism was a new area for me. At AuSM, I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated and knowledgeable team of individuals on the spectrum, parents, family members of people with autism spectrum disorder, and other professionals who have worked in autism programs for many years; their insights and guidance helped me better understand the breadth and depth of the spectrum. And while I would never claim to be an autism ‘expert’, I met many experts among the AuSM staff and our members, many of whom I’ve turned to for guidance over the years.”

Weinberg also said he is proud of the growth seen in AuSM’s programming and services across Minnesota. “Historically, offering programming outside the Twin Cities metro region has been a challenge for AuSM, but this is our fourth year of summer social skills classes for families in and around Duluth, and we now bring workshops and training to dozens of under-served communities across the state.”

AuSM was recently awarded a grant to offer live, interactive webinars and classes, which will reduce barriers to participation by people living in harder-to-reach communities.

An event to honor Weinberg was held August 10.


MNsure awards navigator grants

MNsure has announced recipients for its 2017-2018 navigator grants. The 23 grants totaled $4.2 million and will fund 53 organizations across the state to help enroll Minnesotans in health care coverage. Grants are awarded to organizations that offer free in-person application and enrollment assistance to Minnesotans throughout the year. Over the last year, more than 45,000 Minnesotans found coverage with the help of a navigator from one of MNsure’s grantee organizations.

“When Minnesotans have health care coverage our state is healthier and our economy stronger,” said MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole. “Minnesota’s best-in-class navigator network provides a crucial service enrolling people in coverage across the state.”

Grantees work to assist communities with all aspects of the application and enrollment process and utilize established relationships with populations facing barriers to coverage.

The grants are split into two funding areas: Network Grants and Enrollment Grants. The Navigator Network Grants total $3.2 million. The focus is on building statewide access to enrollment assistance and sustaining a network of navigator organizations working closely with MNsure on strategies to reach, enroll and renew consumers in health coverage. Recipients are Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Inc., Virginia; Briva Health, Minneapolis; Community Resource Connections, Bemidji, Generations Health Care Initiatives, Duluth; Health Access Minnesota, St. Paul; Hmong American Partnership, St. Paul; Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, St. Cloud; Portico Healthnet, St. Paul; and United Community Action Partnership (formerly Heartland Community Action), Marshall and Willmar.

Navigator Enrollment Grants total $1 million. The grants support navigator enrollment capacity or staff within organizations that can demonstrate an ability to reach populations where many people need insurance. Recipients are African Community Senior Services, Minneapolis; C.A.R.E. Clinic, Red Wing; Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio, Inc. (CLUES), St. Paul; Face to Face Health and Counseling Service, St. Paul; HealthFinders Collaborative, Inc, Faribault; Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA), Rochester; Minnesota AIDS Project, Minneapolis; Native American Community Clinic, Minneapolis; Neighborhood HealthSource, Minneapolis; North Point Health & Wellness Center, Inc., Minneapolis; Northwest Community Action, Inc., Badger; Pillsbury United Communities (PUC), Minneapolis, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, St. Paul; and Southside Community Health Services, Inc., Minneapolis.

Ninety-six percent of Minnesotans have health coverage. That is the highest percentage in state history. In the plan year 2017, more than 500,000 Minnesotans have found health coverage through MNsure.




  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.
  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!

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