People and Places – November 2011

Johnson named to MS Society post Daniel S. Johnson has joined the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upper Midwest Chapter as […]

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Johnson named to MS Society post

Daniel S. Johnson has joined the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upper Midwest Chapter as Vice President of Public Policy and Mission Advancement. In this role, he leads advocacy and political engagement, client programs and services, and professional outreach and education. The chapter represents more than 17,000 people living with MS in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and several counties in western Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Johnson’s background is in health policy and program leadership experience. Previously, he worked as an independent nonprofit consultant, as Vice President of Social Responsibility for UnitedHealth Group where he led the transformation of the social responsibility culture to focus on chronic disease, and as Executive Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Early in his career, he supervised and provided direct care to people with chronic illnesses, including MS.

Johnson serves on the boards of ClearWay Minnesota and the Charities Review Council. He is past chair of the Minnesota Council of Foundations. He has a Master of Education with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin— LaCrosse. He and his wife, Rev. Sally Howell Johnson, have two sons and live in West St. Paul.


Awards given at statewide conference (people & places)

The Arc Minnesota annually honors outstanding individuals and agencies for their work to create a better world for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Recipients are selected from nominations submitted from across Minnesota. The 2011 award winners were recognized Nov. 5 at The Arc Minnesota Awards Banquet, during the organization’s state conference at Breezy Point.

One new award honors the late Tim Nelson, leader of Hammer and former chair of The Arc Minnesota Board of Directors. The Tim Nelson Unity Award was given to posthumously recognize Nelson for his passion and commitment to strengthening The Arc movement and increasing the unity among chapters of The Arc in Minnesota. Nelson died this summer. This will become an annual award.

Allie Henley, Abby Hirsch, and Tim Strom of Plymouth won the Andrew R. Richardson Advocacy Award. As high school students, these three self-advocates led a successful campaign to get their classmates to sign pledges to stop using defamatory language to describe people with disabilities.

Chet and Gladys Tollefson of Anoka were presented the Betty Hubbard Family Advocacy Award for their leadership and vision in creating Rise, Inc., which has helped expand employment opportunities for Minnesotans with disabilities. Rise, Inc. just celebrated its 40th anniversary.

David Spragg of Golden Valley was given the Bill Sackter Citizenship Award. This self-advocate works and lives independently in the community. Spragg donates his time to organizations working with people in poverty or who have disabilities, to his church, and to political activities involving elections and legislation.

Coach Tom Sohrweide and the White Bear Lake Youth Football Association received the Boggs Mitchell Award for Inclusive Recreation. He and the team were honored for fully including a White Bear Lake student with Down syndrome in their youth football league.

Nancy Carlson of Bloomington and Joanne Miller of Apple Valley were given the Community Innovator Award. These women donated generously of their time and talent to The Arc Greater Twin Cities. They were instrumental in creating an online learning program for families to gain crucial information in a means convenient and accessible to them.

The Community Media Excellence Award was given to Bill Hanley and Steve Spenser of TPT-TV, for their production of the documentary Institutions to Independence, which was broadcast on TPT stations across Minnesota.

The Resource Center, West Central Industries in Willmar, was given the Distinguished Community Service Award. The Center has several programs to increase acceptance of and decrease stigmas about people with disabilities, provide connections and information to parents and siblings, and fund activities and services to increase community inclusion.

Paulbeck’s County Market in Aitkin won the Employer of the Year Award for its long-time commitment of providing inclusive, competitive employment for people with disabilities.

The Frances Klas Johnson Spirit of Giving Award went to Hammer in Wayzata, for its generous and long-standing support for The Arc Minnesota’s programs and activities.

The Government Partner Award was given to the Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, State of Minnesota, for exposing the abuse of people with developmental disabilities occurring at the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options Program (METO) through the report Just Plain Wrong.

Lisa Willey from Carefree Cottages of Maplewood was given the Inclusive Housing Award for her assistance in finding accessible and affordable housing for women with disabilities who moved from a nursing home to the community.

Maureen Rosacker of Partnership Resources, Inc. in St. Louis Park and Jan Hopper of Hammer in Wayzata shared the Irving Martin Professional of the Year. The outstanding service of these women in community-based services has increased the independence of people with developmental disabilities and helped them develop their capabilities and gifts.

The Luther Granquist Systems Change Award was given to Judge Donovan Frank, a federal district court judge in St. Paul who has educated his colleagues about the rights of people with disabilities and disability law. He also personally intervened to protect the jobs of custodial workers with disabilities working in his building when their positions were in jeopardy.

The Outstanding Achievement by a Local Chapter Award was given to The Arc Greater Twin Cities, for creating its Get Set! for Work Program. This innovative program is a partnership with Opportunity Partners and Dunwoody Institute and combines formal education with a chance for people with developmental disabilities to be employed in retail businesses.

Deb Williamson of the Metro Educational Cooperative Service Unit in St. Anthony was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award. As a statewide specialist, Williamson is the primary provider of supports to Minnesota teachers working with students who have physical disabilities and/or brain injury.

Carl, Connie, and Jennifer Deobald of Rochester shared the The Arc Family Award, for more than 20 years of volunteer service and leadership with The Arc Southeastern Minnesota.


Volunteers of the Year honors went to two longtime activists. Jean Bender of St. Paul and Les Bauer of Richfield, volunteer coordinators of The Arc Minnesota’s efforts to train, engage, and activate its members for public policy campaigns and activities, were saluted for their work.

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