People and Places -- August 2021

People and Places -- August 2021

Robinson is honored for leadership

Rise Nurse Care Coordinator Kelly Robinson has been a leader in efforts to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was recently presented with the DAISY Team Award by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

In January 2020 Robinson founded the Minnesota chapter of Black Nurses Rock, Inc., a national organization established in 2014 focused on supporting Black nurses.

When the pandemic began, Robinson knew that Black Nurses Rock’s mission to inspire, empower, and educate the community was more essential than ever. She and her team of nurses worked with the city of Minneapolis to pass out 4,000 masks and 500 bottles of hand sanitizer at community events. Events often occurred with little notice, but Black Nurses Rock was ready to meet the need.

Black Nurses Rock shifted its work from distributing masks and hand sanitizer to doing temperature checks at summer events. That work helped reduce the spread of COVID-19. In June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, Robinson and her team of nurses were the official “temperature takers” at the funeral.

Black Nurses Rock in the fall transitioned to assisting with the launch of community COVID-19 testing sites in partnership with state departments and community groups.

Always a champion for her community, Robinson connected with the state COVID-19 testing work group and advocated for more nurses of color to carry out the testing. Doing so was seen as a way to increase comfort and trust among community members coming out to get tested for COVID-19.

From August through December 2020, Black Nurses Rock and MHealth were the official COVID-19 testers for community testing events hosted by Stairstep Foundation, a trusted organization in the African American community. These events had a broad reach in the African American community.

Those efforts earned Robinson the DAISY Award. The award, created by The DAISY Foundation, a group that celebrates extraordinary nursing. The foundation applauds Robinson and her colleagues’ compassion and skills.

DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The DAISY Foundation was formed in November 1999, by the family of J. Patrick Barnes who died at age 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). The nursing care Barnes received when hospitalized profoundly touched his family.

Rise is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization which supports people who have disabilities and other barriers. Its programs are intended to assist the people in finding employment opportunities that fit their career objectives and skills. Rise also offers life enrichment programs and mental health support services, as well as programs assisting people in finding safe, affordable housing in some Central Minnesota counties.

Ogren retires after long career

Sally Ogren

It’s truly the end of an era as Sally Ogren, director of ProAct in Red Wing, retired on July 1. Ogren logged a remarkable 47 years’ working with people with disabilities with ProAct and its predecessors.

Ogren was with Interstate Rehabilitation Center (IRC) before its merger with Owobopte in Eagan. Owobopte was founded as a small organization providing training and work opportunities for people at what was then the Hastings State Hospital. It grew into a sizeable day training and habilitation center in Eagan.

IRC, located in Red Wing, proving services on both sides of the Mississippi River to Minnesota and Wisconsin clients.

The two service providers joined forces to form the larger ProAct organization in 2002.

Prior to joining IRC, Ogren worked for the State of Minnesota in what was then the Rehabilitation Services Division. She came to IRC with a great knowledge of the field. Over the years she was instrumental in developing community living opportunities, Dial-A Ride services and new educational programming and employment opportunities at the Red Wing facility.

Part of her director duties involved the oversight of the ProAct site in Zumbrota, It was the first to use the ProAct name after it opened in 1994. The Zumbrota facility was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and the decision was made to sell the building in 2021.

Ogren was a longtime surveyor for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

She has brought a level of commitment and dedication to ProAct in her years of employment. Ogren leaves as part of a group that shares notable longevity with ProAct, each with more than 30 years of service. ProAct’s Board of Directors, staff, participants, families and community members thanked her for her decades of service.

In retirement Ogren plans to spend more time with her husband, their sons and their families.

New board members at Wilderness Inquiry

Wilderness Inquiry has welcomed four new board members to its leadership team.

New board members are Mikisha Nation, executive director of Teach for America; Laura Forero, CEO of 1204 Consulting, LLC.; Jaime Stilson, partner at Dorsey & Whitney, and Dotun Obadina, partner at Jones Day.

Wilderness Inquiry provides opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to experience the great outdoors.

State appointments are announced

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have announced appointment to several aging and disability-focused boards, commissions and committees.

Rachel Dame, Minneapolis, was appointed to the Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy, replacing Jesse Winkler in a public member seat. The board regulates the practices of alcohol and drug counseling, professional counseling and professional clinical counseling in Minnesota. The board carries out its mission through effective licensure and enforcement of statutes and rules that ensure a standard of competent and ethical practice.

Katie McDermott, St. Paul, was appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (MNCDD) as a consumer member. McDermott replaces Stacey Nelson.

Two new parent or guardian representatives were appointed to MNCDD. Jennifer Santema, Milaca, was appointed, replacing Bonnie Jean Smith. Jenny Arndt, Waseca, replaces Sen. John Hoffman (DFL – Champlain). MNCDD works to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the necessary supports and services to achieve increased independence, productivity, self-determination, integration and inclusion in their community.

Commissioner Mandy Meisner, Anoka County, was appointed to the State Advisory Council on Mental Health as a county commissioner representative. She replaces Commissioner Jim McDonough, Ramsey County.

Eren Sutherland, Minneapolis. was also appointed to the council as representative of the Minnesota Disability Law Center. Sutherland replaces Patricia Siebert. The council is charged with making recommendations to the governor, legislature and state departments on mental health policies, programs and services.

Addyson Moore, Red Wing, was appointed to the State Rehabilitation Council as disability advocacy group representative. Moore replaces Dr. Kelly Nye-Lengerman. Delawoe Bahtuoh, Brooklyn Park, was reappointed as a current or former applicant for or recipient of VR Services. Lindsey Horowitz, Roseville, was appointed as Department of Education representative, replacing Susan Benolken. Jillian Nelson, St. Paul, was reappointed as a disability advocacy group representative.

The council’s duties include guiding decisions about Minnesota’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), coordinating between VRS and centers for independent living and other state councils with interest in issues pertaining to disability and employment. The council also reports to the governor and the U.S. Department of Education on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs.

Jessica Eggert, Eagan, was appointed to the Board of the Minnesota State Academies as a blind community member. Eggert replaces Jan Bailey. The board governs the state academies for the deaf and blind. It promotes academic standards based on high expectation and an assessment system to measure academic performance toward the achievement of those standards.

Judy Moe, Richfield, was appointed to the Council on Disability. Moe replaces Belo Cipriani. Saido Abdirashid, Minneapolis, was also appointed, replacing Muzamil Ibrahim. The council provides leadership to empower and strengthen the rights of Minnesotans with disabilities. The council collaborates with public and private sectors as a policy and technical resource advisor. The council also advises and aids the governor, state agencies, and the public on policy and the administration of programs and services for people with disabilities in Minnesota.

The Board of Executives for Long Term Services and Supports has new and returning appointees. Jane Pederson, Woodbury, was reappointed as a member engaged in the practice of medicine. Frederick Dawes, Minneapolis, replaces Marilyn Reierson as a public member. The board works to protect the public by regulating the practice of nursing home administrators and assisted living directors and investigating and resolving complaints against administrators, health services executives and assisted living directors.

Corbbmacc O’Connor, Minneapolis, was appointed to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind as the business, industry and labor representative, O’Connor replaces Yivien Wing Man Yip. The council’s duties include advising the Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development about programs of State Services for the Blind (SSB), coordinating between SSB and centers for independent living, and advising the governor on vocational rehabilitation programs.

Harmony Kuller, Minneapolis, was reappointed to the Minnesota Assistive Technology Advisory Council. The Minnesota STAR Program’s mission is to help all Minnesotans with disabilities gain access to and acquire the assistive technology they need to live, learn, work and play. The council provides the STAR program with consumer-responsive, consumer-driven advice for planning, implementing, and evaluating assistive technology activities.

The State Rehabilitation Council’s duties include guiding decisions about Minnesota’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), coordinating between VRS and centers for independent living and other state councils with interest in issues pertaining to disability and employment, and reporting to the governor and the U.S. Department of Education on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs.

Lance Fang, Woodbury, was appointed to the Minnesota Board on Aging, replacing Meghan Coleman. Jane Pederson, Woodbury, replaces Sonja Hayden Berg. Khadija Zeig, Cottage Grove, replaces Peg Lonnquist. Stephanie Klinzing, Elk River, was reappointed.

The board ) is the designated state agency on aging for Minnesota and administers federal and state funds to deliver a range of in-home and supportive services to older adults and their caregivers. Its two direct service programs are the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care and the Senior LinkAge Line. In addition, the board promotes state and local policies and programs to support older adults to age well and live well.

Mohamed Mohamed, East Grand Forks, was appointed as an advocate member of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. Mohamed replaces Krista Bahnsen. The council’s duties include advising the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development about programs of State Services for the Blind (SSB), coordinating between SSB and centers for independent living, and advising the governor on vocational rehabilitation programs.