People and Places – January 2013

New Rise Inc. president named Rise Incorporated, Chair Gene Merriam has announced that Lynn Noren has been named president of […]

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New Rise Inc. president named

Rise Incorporated, Chair Gene Merriam has announced that Lynn Noren has been named president of Rise Inc. She succeeds John Barrett who has led the nonprofit organization for 36 years. She takes the helm Jan. 1.


KeyStone Search, a prominent Twin Cities executive recruiting firm, led the search for the Rise Board of Directors. KeyStone’s nationwide outreach to identify qualified candidates resulted in more than 200 prospective candidates. 

“The Rise Board of Directors did a thorough job in considering a slate of strong candidates for this position,” said Marcia Ballinger, PhD, Principal at KeyStone Search. “Rise has a great reputation in this community which led to a large number of qualified applicants for the position.” Noren has been with Rise for more than thirty years and has served in increasingly responsible positions within Rise. Most recently, she was vice president/ chief operating officer.


“I am so excited to be selected as Rise’s president,” said Noren. “It is a great honor to follow the leadership of John Barrett who has served the organization for so many years. Rise has a rich history providing service excellence to people with disabilities and other barriers to full participation in the community. The work we do each day is led by a quality staff team who are committed to the organization’s mission. I look forward to leading the organization into a very bright future.” 

Noren earned a B.A. degree in human services administration from Metropolitan State University and holds an Executive Master’s degree in rehabilitation administration from the University of San Francisco.


She is an active and prominent leader in the community. Among many other activities, she is chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Minnesota Habilitation Coalition as well as a member of the Minnesota Department of Human Services Expert Partner Panel and the Long-Term Care Provider Coalition. She is a long-time CARF surveyor and has presented on accreditation issues at regional and international conferences and seminars.


New guests hosts for Disability Viewpoints


Mark Hughes, executive producer of the award-winning cable television show “Disability Viewpoints,” has added six guest co-hosts beginning with the show to be aired in February. Nikki Abramson, Mike Chevrette, Imani Cruzen, Nikki Villavicencio, Joan Willshire, and Nick Wilkie will co-host “Disability Viewpoints” with Hughes. 

“Disability Viewpoints” is co-produced by Hughes and Jo Ann Erbes. For 15 years, Hughes has hosted the show on North Suburban Access Communications CTV Channel 15. The show is also rebroadcast on Twin Cities Public Television. The producers are pleased to bring in a talented group of co-hosts.

 The focus of “Disability Viewpoints” is to give disability service organizations an opportunity to promote the programs and services they provide people with disabilities and/or health conditions. The new format of the show will also highlight the accomplishments of people with disabilities and provide information about public policy that affects people with disabilities and their families. 

Each co-host brings his or her own expertise and personality to the show, which will result in many interesting and unique episodes. Abramson brings a perspective on accessing health care for people with disabilities.


As an advocate for accessible travel, Chevrette will present information about interesting places to visit throughout Minnesota. Cruzen will provide insights for teens with disabilities.

Villavicencio, a familiar presence at the state capitol, will discuss advocacy skills by sharing her experiences. Willshire will enlighten and entertain viewers on a variety of topics. Willkie’s ability to laugh at himself will provide another interesting and comedic perspective on disability-related issues and points. 

The show will continue to feature a varied group of guests. During the legislative session the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Grassroots Committee will have its representatives provide updates on activities at the capitol.


“Disability Viewpoints” received the Hometown Media Award in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2003 and 2002. More information about “Disability Viewpoints” is available at The show also has its own Facebook page.

VSA Minnesota announces grants 

Seven Minnesota artists have been awarded grants of $1,500 each by VSA Minnesota. The 17th annual competitive grant, funded by the Jerome Foundation, recognizes excellence by emerging Minnesota artists with disabilities and encourages them to complete new work. Two grant winners are writers, poet Charmaine P. Donovan, Brainerd; and creative nonfiction writer Lindagail Roy, Minneapolis. The other winners are visual artists. Paul J. Flick, Minneapolis works with mixed media. Devra Goldstein, Plymouth, is a fiber artist and Saori weaver. Peter Hinze, Minneapolis, works with watercolors and pastels. Lydia Sponslier, Minnetonka, is a painter. Kinetic art is the specialty of Bridget Riversmith, Duluth.


Each grant was awarded following a jurying process conducted by a panel of individuals with extensive backgrounds in the written, visual and performing arts. They looked at samples of the artists’ work, resumes and artist statements. Forty-two applications were received. Members of the panels included Todd Boss, poet, North Oaks; Paulino Brener, performance artist, playwright, teacher, Minneapolis; Stanley Christopher, visual artist and writer, St. Paul; Deb Costandine, artist, writer, St. Paul; Christi Furnas, visual artist, Spectrum ArtWorks support specialist, Minneapolis; Tracy Gulliver, writer, Chisago City; Lawrence Hutera, retired arts administrator, Minneapolis; Shawnee Langworthy, stained glass artist, Northfield; Jeffrey Richman, cultural arts director, St. Paul Jewish Community Center; Mary Smith, ArtReach St. Croix literary chair, Stillwater; Kurt Wiger, Courage Center staff, former arts teacher, Plymouth and Halle O’Falvey, ACT Remembering with Dignity Project, arts instructor, costumer, St. Paul. Christopher, Costandine and Gulliver are past grant recipients.

Merrick, Inc. welcomes new trustees


Merrick, Inc., a Vadnais Heights-based nonprofit that helps adults with disabilities through vocational and social opportunities, introduced two new trustees at its Dec. 12 annual meeting. Donika Pentcheva and Dr. Tanmay Barman Roy join a group of 16 trustees who help lead the organization. Julie Manning, Ashley Wenger and Board Vice-President and longtime supporter Betsy Wuebker left the board. Wuebker is moving to Hawaii. 

Pentcheva is experienced in all aspects of intellectual property portfolio management, including preparation, litigation and enforcement. She graduated from the University of Saint Thomas where she developed modules and software for use with Mathematica®, MATLAB®, and Maple®, and also holds a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.


A physician MBA/MHA by background, Roy has more than 12 years of experience as a healthcare management consultant and as a practicing physician He has been a part of the management consulting practice at leading global consulting firms where he has helped more than 40 healthcare organizations including some of the leading hospitals, integrated health systems and health plans in the areas of business strategy, operations, clinical care delivery and new product/service launch.

Opportunity Partners wins Wolves grant

Opportunity Partners, a Twin Cities non-profit disability organization, received a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation for its work in successfully transitioning students with disabilities into life after high school graduation. The grant’s theme is “New Season, New Beginnings,” focusing on offering Minnesota youth a new direction or opportunity.

Opportunity Partners’ Youth Transition Services prepares young people with disabilities to transition out of the special education system and into adulthood by partnering with school districts and assisting the students in making future plans. The organization strives to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to lead rewarding, productive lives full of purpose and meaning. 

The grant will be used for an outdoor basketball court at Opportunity Partners-Koch Campus. Funds will pay for the hoop, foundation work for the goal post and concrete work for the court. Opportunity Partners was presented with the check at a Minnesota Timberwolves game in November 2012.

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