People and Places - July 2016

NAMI honors two

Two University of Minnesota psychiatrists, Judith Kashtan and Gary Christenson, have been selected by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to receive 2016 Exemplary Psychiatrist awards. The awards go to psychiatrists who go the extra mile for mental health care and who actively support NAMI at the local or state level. Both psychiatrists were nominated by NAMI Minnesota.

Kashtan is a Harvard trained, board certified psychiatrist, rated one of the top doctors in the Twin Cities by Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine and a top doctor for women by Minnesota Monthly magazine. She has been in solo private practice in downtown Minneapolis for more than 25 years and is a clinical professor at the University of Minnesota.

Christenson is the chief medical officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota, and an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry. He has been an incredible advocate for improving access to mental health services to students. For several years he has held a Cirque de Stress event on campus to help students deal with stress. NAMI Minnesota has always been a part of this event and has seen firsthand how beneficial it is to students. More than 3,000 students and faculty attend every year.

 

VSA Minnesota awards access grants

Eight Twin Cities arts organizations have been awarded ADA Access Improvement Grants by VSA Minnesota. Grants totaling $100,705 will help make arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities.

Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis, will hire and retain a supertitle operator and a staff member to organize its disability advisory committee, and provide improved supertitle and audio description equipment. The grant award is $15,000.

The Somali Museum, Minneapolis, will address its limited visual and auditory accessibility by creating a digital museum tour featuring video content with audio description and subtitling/ transcripts for 24 pieces in its collection, as well as installing wall-mounted artifact labels. The grant award is $10,833.

Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, will support its service to deaf and hard of hearing patrons by making several improvements. One is to purchase equipment for open captioning. Another is to create welcome signs and videos to affirm and inform those using access services. Park Square will also retrofit the proscenium lobby to show video and continue training front-of-house staff in basic American Sign Language (ASL) signs to supplement use of volunteer ASL ushers. The grant award is $15,000.

After a year in its new St. Paul Midway facility and surveying their artists with disabilities to assess needs to better serve their physical-space experiences in creating art, Interact Center for the Arts will install automatic door opener panels on the restroom doors, as well as sound dampening panels in its studio and backstage areas. The grant award is $11,415.

Midway Contemporary Art will install an accessible/family bathroom and make other accessibility improvements, including fixing surfaces at its entrance and library and acoustics in its Minneapolis public presentation space. The grant award is $15,000.

Upstream Arts, Minneapolis, will hold specialized trainings and curriculum development sessions, led by experts from the disability community. This will allow Upstream Arts to increase its organizational capacity and the capacity of its teaching artists to provide accessible instruction to individuals with disabilities in the shifting contexts in which they receive education and social services, and to address the diversity of individuals with disabilities in these contexts. The grant award is $15,000.

Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, will format its remaining 2016 titles, its 2017 titles, and select backlist for use with screen reading software. They will be added to the 80 titles already released online for readers with vision loss. They will collect feedback on reader experience, deepen community relationships, improve the project as it moves forward, and hold trainings for the board and staff. The grant is $4,288.

Springboard for the Arts, St. Paul, will adapt and expand its 12-part Work of Art professional development tool kit to be accessible to deaf artists. They will work with artists in the deaf community to assess, adapt and expand the workshops and video components to address learning styles specific to the deaf community. Artists and examples will feature artists with disabilities. The completed tool kit will be available in digital, print and Braille formats. The grant is $15,000.

Since 2010, 115 projects by 65 different organizations have been funded, totaling $1,343,744. VSA Minnesota has administered the ADA Access Improvement Grant program for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Funds come from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The purpose is to enable nonprofit arts organizations in the seven-county Twin Cities area to improve their programs, projects, equipment, or facilities in ways that have the potential for significant or long-term impact in involving more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs.

Applications were read, discussed and scored by a panel of persons active in arts and disability communities. VSA Minnesota’s board then approved the panel’s recommendations. Panelists were Julia Anderson, Walker Art Center coordinator of education and public programs; Kathleen Conroy, Z Puppets Rosenschnoz managing director, caption operator; Stephanie Cunningham, accessibility consultant, past VSA MN board member; Scottie Hall, Ted Mann Concert Hall staff, audio describer; Dana Munson, Cowles Center for Dance marketing director; Christian Novak, American Craft Council membership director, VSA MN board member; Ken Rodgers, Minnesota Department of Transportation Disability Programs Coordinator, American Council for the Blind Minnesota board and Minneapolis Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities chairman; and Susan Warner, Courage Kenny staff and past VSA MN board member. The next application deadlines will be in late 2016 and spring 2017.

 

Holland ends leadership role

Minnesota Radio Talking Book Manager Stuart Holland has completed a four-year term as president of the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS). The association works to promote equal access to all forms of information available to the general public. Members serve people with visual, physical or cognitive disabilities.

IAAIS is a volunteer-driven membership organization of services that turn text into speech for people who cannot see, hold or comprehend the printed word and who may be unable to access information due to a disability or health condition. It was founded in 1977. IAAIS currently represents about 140 services. Member services can be found throughout the United States and in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa. Many IAAIS members in the United States are associated with public radio stations, colleges, universities or libraries.

Holland will continue to promote IAAIS and its work as the organization’s international outreach coordinator, after steeping down in June as president.

 

Wilson will lead Community Supports Administration

A mental health advocate with two decades of experience in public policy and related issues will lead the Community Supports Administration at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Commissioner Emily Piper has appointed Claire E. Wilson to the position of assistant commissioner. Wilson’s first day at DHS was June 13.

Most recently Wilson served as executive director of the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs. In that role she provided strategic and administrative leadership, creating coalitions of stakeholders to advance improvements in mental health. She has also served in a leadership role for the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, where her work included outreach to underserved communities.

“Claire’s expertise will be especially valuable as we work to improve the mental health system in Minnesota through Gov. Mark Dayton’s new task force, as we continue to address growing issues around prescription medications and heroin, and as we work to advance Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan for people with disabilities,” Piper said. “Progress on each of these issues will require the consensus building skills Claire is known for.”

The Community Supports Administration develops statewide policy direction for mental health, disability services, alcohol and drug abuse, housing and support services, and deaf and hard of hearing services

 

Service providers are honored

The Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR), which represents more than 100 provider organizations across the state, has honored five top professionals of 2016. Mike Burke, president of MOHR, and Lynne Megan, chair of the awards committee, presented the honors at a recent ceremony.

Two honored support professionals, Sue Krause and Ebony Johnson, are from Rise, Inc., Rise has 26 locations in the greater Twin Cities area. Colleagues from Rise, Inc. turned out to applaud the two women.

Other award winners include Julie Clarke of the Polk County Development Achievement Center, Crookston and East Grand Forks; Ashley Nordlie of Functional Industries, Buffalo and Nancy Grayson of Opportunity Partners, Eden Prairie.