People and Places – July 2018

Bottinger honored with award The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has awarded Kate Bottiger its 2018 Transformational Leader Award. Bottiger has […]

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Bottinger honored with award

Kate BottingerThe Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has awarded Kate Bottiger its 2018 Transformational Leader Award. Bottiger has been the executive director at Reach for Resources since August 2014 and was secretly nominated by a group of Reach staff and board members.

The council oversees a membership of more than 2,100 nonprofits and 230 businesses. The award was presented at a June luncheon.

As the Transformational Leader Award recipient, Bottiger has the opportunity to become a 2018-2019 Executive Leadership Fellow at the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. The center is focused on research, learning and discussion to catalyze intersector and other boundary-crossing collaboration for social impact. It is a university-wide initiative specifically affiliated with the Humphrey School of Public Policy, the Carlson School of Management, the Law School, the College of Education and Human Development, and the School of Public Health.

Bottiger has spent her entire 27-year career in nonprofit work, beginning with 22 years at Hammer Residences. At Hammer she ascended to the post of director of advocacy and volunteer resources. She then served one year as the executive director at Rein in Sarcoma before moving to lead Reach for Resources and the National Neutropenia Network.

The nomination highlighted Bottiger’s innovation in advancing Reach’s mission, her partnership with other nonprofits, and the trust and collaboration she practices with her staff. She was recognized for championing the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as her leadership at Reach for Resources and beyond.

The nomination also emphasized Bottiger’s humility, capturing how she even regularly takes home and washes dirty dishes used by staff, since the office break room does not have a sink. Reach’s Board Chairperson Nico Montoya stated, “One thing I’d like to highlight is how much Kate cares about not just the people she serves, but the people who work for us. It comes across very clearly that she feels empathy toward everyone in the organization and is willing to make personal sacrifices to make their jobs more sustainable.”

“I am humbled and greatly honored to have been nominated for the Transformational Leader Award from my colleagues at Reach, who provide inspiration to me and those around them every day. Thank you,” said Bottiger. “I would also not be where I am today if it was not for those who supported me throughout my career … Thank you for instilling in me the passion I have for the work we do, the hard lessons learned along the way, and the support and trust you have provided to me.”


Anniversary is celebrated

UCare’s Northland office turned one year old in June, on Grandma’s Marathon weekend. The office in Duluth offers a comfortable setting for members of the community to visit with questions, discuss coverage needs and compare UCare plans. Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer Ghita Worcester, and a Duluth native, said, “Our welcoming space in the Northland allows local folks to connect with our people powered service and get accurate information about UCare plans, especially our regional EssentiaCare Medicare product.”

The office offers information on coverage as well as Medicare basics meetings, product sales meetings, navigator trainings, community meetings and social events. It is staffed by Medicare Sales Specialists Ellen Anderson and Leann Frestedt, Sales Manager Nicolle Olness and Sales and Operations Specialist Kristy Herubin.


Accessibility Grants

ADA Access Improvement Grants will help 10 Minnesota nonprofits make arts programs more accessible for people with disabilities. VSA Minnesota announced the awards totaling $114,256, in June.

The Arts’ Nest, Minneapolis, received $15,000 to provide audio description and ASL services for every group renting its Phoenix facility for a multiple performance run. Arts’ Nest will also install an augmented hearing assistance system and offer biannual trainings for front of house staff and rental groups.

Art Shanty Projects, Minneapolis, received $5,400 to improve access to and outreach for its annual festival, and On-Ice Program. The festival is held on the frozen surface of Lake Harriet.

Cow Tipping Press, Minneapolis, received $7,500 to expand the impact and accessibility of its creative writing program for adults with developmental disabilities.


In 2018-2019 costs of classes will be reduced for four new partner organizations.

Friends of the Lakeville Area Arts Center, Lakeville, received $7,681 to assist with accessibility improvements including a sidewalk ramp, added accessible parking spaces and other site improvements. The work is part of a larger arts center renovation project.

Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis, received $15,000 to support its continued efforts to meet the needs of theater patrons from diverse disability communities. Funding will help ensure accessibility of shows.

Nimbus, Minneapolis, received $15,000 to complete construction of two new accessible restrooms and renovate existing facilities to meet ADA compliance at the Crane Theater.

Simply ArtAble, Minneapolis, received $15,000 to provide free painting classes to older adults and residents with disabilities in public housing and assisted living facilities including Presbyterian Homes, Heritage House and Mt. Olivet Homes.

Threads Dance Project, Golden Valley, received $11,175 to create and premiere a new dance work geared specifically toward blurring the boundaries between the Twin Cities’ deaf/hard of hearing community and the hearing community. Threads will tour excerpts of the show and teach dance workshops to schools with deaf/hard of hearing programs and students.

Upstream Arts, Minneapolis, received $15,000 toward a series of specialized trainings and curriculum development sessions, led by experts from the disability and arts community. The intent is to increase the capacity of its teaching artists to use and make poetry and music more accessible to individuals with disabilities.


Another focus is on grief and loss-related arts programming.

Young Dance, Minneapolis, received $7,500 for Intersect, an investigation of the crossroads of music and dance through improvisation, choreography and performance led by artists Gaelynn Lea and Angelique Lele.


Applications were scored by a panel of persons active in arts and disability communities; VSA Minnesota’s board approved the panel’s recommendations. The next grant application deadline is anticipated to be in late 2018.


First of its kind service dog graduates

The Orono Police Department graduated from Can Do Canines in June with Xerxes, Minnesota’s first community service dog. Xerxes will have the important role of comforting and connecting with individuals impacted by trauma or experiencing a mental health crisis in the community.

“Having a K-9 partner introduced into those situations can have a calming effect,” said Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok. Graduation was held at the Can Do Canines facility in New Hope.

The ceremony represented the culmination of a long journey for Xerxes and 12 assistance dogs and their human partners. Before the pair go through team training together, the assistance dog has experienced months of training with volunteers, prison inmates, and staff. Each dog has been touched by numerous selfless volunteers who donate their time, energy, and love to raise and train a dog for someone with a disability.

It costs more than $25,000 to raise and train each dog, but they are provided free of charge to clients thanks to generous contributors.


From the showcase to a “cold” case

Artists often find work outside the performing arena in order to support their pursuit of dance, theatre, singing, storytelling and other fields. St. Louis Park dancer Mike Cohn, a Sage award recipient and an Emerging Artist grantee from VSA Minnesota, just opened Cohnnies Ice Cream Treats to provide refreshments for dancers and
students who take classes and rehearse at the Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts in downtown Minneapolis. Cohn, who has worked with Young Dance, Off-Leash Area and other companies, won’t be giving up dance, however. The same week he opened his ice cream and frozen treats sales case, Cohn also was part of the 16 Feet: Splashes of Dance choreographers showcase.



Youth win state tournament titles

Spring is a busy time for Minnesota prep athletes, as champions were crowned in adapted softball, bowling and track and field meet. The tournaments wrapped up the 2017-2018 sports season for the Minnesota State High School League adapted athletics program.

At the State Track and Field Meet at Hamline University in St. Paul, wheelchair athletes took the spotlight.

In Class A boys’ competition, defending champion and state record holder Peyton Gunnarson of Lewiston-Altura defended his 2017 state titles in the 100 and 201-meter wheelchair dashes. Aiden Gravelle of LCWMNicollet placed second and James Hagen of Sleepy Eye Unified placed third in both races. In the discus, Luke Johnson of Medford, Gravelle and Ben Bode of St. Peter won the top three spots.

Defending state champion Lilly Stiernagle, Maple River, reclaimed her discus throw crown. In Class AA competition, Ben Mathiowetz, New Ulm, won the discus throw.

In other tournaments, athletes compete in the CI division for cognitive disabilities and in the PI division for physical disabilities. The exception is bowling, where athletes on the autism spectrum also have their own division.

The winner’s circle had a familiar look at the end of the state softball tournament at Coon Rapids High School, with repeat champions. Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka recorded a 4-1 victory over Anoka-Hennepin for the PI crown. It was the second consecutive title for the Robins and their eighth since 2009. The Robins are the most successful adapted sports program in the state.

Dakota United took third place with a 10-8 victory over Rochester. In the consolation final, Mounds View/ Irondale/Roseville won a 5-4 victory over St. Paul Humboldt. Other teams in the tournament were Osseo and Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville/New Prague.

Members of the Wells Fargo All-Tournament PI Team are St. Paul Humboldt: Ana Yonkers-Zimmerman; Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville: Grant Drew; Dakota United: Riley Wisniewski and Samuel Gerten; Rochester: Blake Hillman and Julian Stacy; Anoka-Hennepin: Tyler Ezell, Cole Andrzcyzak and Garmen Neal; and Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka: Hayley Engebretson, Calvin Gerdt and Vincent Luu.

St. Cloud Area won the state CI championship for the second consecutive season with an 8-6 victory in an eight-inning, come from behind victory over Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee in the championship game. In the CI tournament, South Washington County raced to a 22-10 victory over North Suburban for third place.

In the consolation final, Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville recorded a 19-8 victory over South Suburban in six innings. Other teams in the tournament were New Prague and Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville.

Members of the Wells Fargo All-Tournament CI Team are South Suburban: Isaac Honold; Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville: Natalya Rawley; North Suburban: Kevin Beaupre and Austin Motzko; South Washington County: Bryce Smith and Katie Sexton; Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee: Tyler Johnson, Teejon Gilliam and Austin Moore; and St. Cloud Area: Brian Jones, Dayton Wientjes and Jordan Williams.

The bowling tournament, held at Bowlero in Brooklyn Park, ended with 12 champions. This tournament draws dozens of athletes and is very popular. Hopkins won the CI title, North St. Paul topped the PI field and Alexandria won the ASD crown.

The Hopkins Royals squad of Sam Roles, Holden Frasee, Cole Knoploh and Charles Strozinsky rolled a combined score of 1,788 to capture the CI team crown. Fellow Royals took second and North St. Paul was third. North St. Paul captured the PI team championship thanks to a Polars squad of Max LeMay, Andrew Peabody, Christian Sellie and Debie Morales-Campos. The team tallied 1,625 pins. Alexandria took second and Albany placed third.

Alexandria Area won the team title in the ASD Division with a score of 1,685 to narrowly defeat Mankato West by just four pins. The champions are Brendan Fuoss, Ty Burg, Joe Mello and Marcus Decker. Wayzata/Minnetonka finished third.

Ten individual titles were won as well, including two by Simley’s Emily Rettinger. She earned a state title in the girls’ singles of the PI Division and then teamed with Brianna Richter to win the PI doubles title.

In PI girls’ singles, Rettinger won over teammate Richter. St. Paul Central’s Emma Fuller was third. Crystal Krohnfeldt, Alexandria Area, won the gold medal in CI singles. St. Michael-Albertville’s Brieanna Brennan placed second and Mahtomedi’s Phoebe Taylor was third.

In the ASD Singles Division, Anoka-Hennepin’s Hanna Naffziger won the gold medal. Albany’s Tristyn Gienger was runner-up. Princeton’s Victoria Greenway placed third.

In CI boys’ singles, Princeton’s Dylan Glammeier topped St. Michael-Albertville’s Derek Vetsch to win the gold medal by two pins. St. Paul Johnson’s Marcus Flockencier was third.

In PI boys’ singles, Simley’s Dallas Filek won top honors. St. Paul Como Park’s Two Thousand placed second and Simley’s Thomas Juneau was third.

In the ASD Division, St. Paul Highland Park’s Titus Natala captured the boys’ singles championship. Princeton’s Ryan Hoeft was second and Anoka-Hennepin’s Owen McKinney placed third.

It was a battle between St. Paul City Conference teams in CI doubles. Harding’s Trinity Smith and Cortney Bryant defeated Como Park’s Sar Lay Htoo and Heh Ku Htoo.

In the PI doubles event, Simley’s Richter and Rettinger recorded a 10-pin victory over teammates Dallas Filek and Thomas Juneau.

In the ASD Division of the doubles tournament, St. Paul Highland Park’s Hagop Mekaterian and Bao Nguyen cruised to victory. North Branch eighth-graders Matthew Fox and Aiden Black were runners-up.


Anderson ends long career

Mary Anderson has devoted more than 40 years working with people with disabilities. Her July 2 retirement marks the end of an era. For the past five years, Anderson served as director of Rise’s CIP Coon Rapids Day Training and Habilitation and Supported Employment Services in Anoka County.

The North Dakota native was inspired by her younger brother Mark, who has Down’s syndrome. Anderson came to the Twin Cities after graduating from North Dakota State University.

Her career has included many years with Community Connection Partnership (CCP), where she became executive director and led the organization for 21 years. Anderson then joined Rise, Inc.

“I wanted to come work for Rise because it has such a great reputation statewide and nationally and is known for being at the forefront of progressive program development and delivery,” she said. “I have enjoyed my time here.” She described Rise as a “very positive, collaborative environment.”

In 2011, Rise recognized Anderson as its “Outstanding Community Partner of the Year,” honoring her 15 years’ service as a volunteer on Rise’s Human Rights Committee, of which she served as chair. CCP worked collaboratively with Rise in the development of services for some of the last individuals to leave the regional treatment centers in the mid-1990s.

“I have known and worked with Mary on state and local issues for many years,” said Rise President Lynn Noren. “I have always admired her professional, compassionate dedication to people facing challenges and her ability to look at ‘big pictures’ and develop realtime solutions leading to positive changes. She is well-respected across the state and I was so happy when she came to work for Rise five years ago. Our DTH team members and the people we serve have benefited greatly from her experience and expertise.”

In retirement, Anderson plans to spend more time on her family’s North Dakota farm. She also hopes to work with her brother on his art projects. She will continue to serve on boards and committees, offering professional expertise to improve the lives of people with disabilities throughout the state of Minnesota.



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