People and Places – October 2011

Kugler to lead The Arc Minnesota Larry Kugler of Eden Prairie has been appointed President of The Arc Minnesota. Kugler […]

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Kugler to lead The Arc Minnesota

Larry Kugler of Eden Prairie has been appointed President of The Arc Minnesota. Kugler succeeds President Tim Nelson, who died this summer.

Kugler said, “I am committed to continuing the priorities that Tim promoted as President. He worked tirelessly for a strong presence of The Arc across the State of Minnesota and to advance the vision that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should live lives of dignity and respect. We will continue our work to enhance our presence statewide and to realize that vision.”

Kugler has served on The Arc Minnesota board since 2006. Before his appointment as president, he served as treasurer and then as first vice president. Hechairs the agency’s Public Policy Committee; serves on its Finance Committee; and is a strong advocate for improved public policies at the county, state, and federal level for people with disabilities and their families.

Before his service with The Arc Minnesota, Kugler served on the Board of Directors of the Arc of Hennepin and Carver Counties. Outside of The Arc Minnesota, he is Human Resources Manager for Olsen Thielen Certified Public Accountant & Consultants of Roseville. He and his wife Susan have two children, one of whom has autism.

“We are grateful that Larry has agreed to lead our organization during this difficult transition,” said Pat Mellenthin, The Arc Minnesota’s Chief Executive Officer. “Tim Nelson was a superb leader for The Arc Minnesota and an exceptional human being.”

“Larry’s experience and the expertise he has provided our board and the board at our local affiliate, The Arc Greater Twin Cities, are a great reassurance to us that our work will go forward.” The Arc Minnesota is a non-profit organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.


UCare, CaringBridge are partners

UCare and CaringBridge have formed a partnership to help UCare’s members and others experiencing a significant health challenge get and stay connected with their family and friends.

CaringBridge is a nonprofit organization providing free websites that help people easily share health news and receive support during health challenges of all kinds, ranging from cancer and premature birth, to serious injury.

“CaringBridge is a wonderful resource for people experiencing difficult health issues,” said Ghita Worcester, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Marketing, UCare. “CaringBridge offers a convenient, one-stop site that allows news, personal messages, and contact information to be quickly shared with others who want to support a person or family coping with illness or other health concerns. UCare’s Customer and Clinical Services staff will inform our members about this helpful and accessible service.”

“We are thrilled to align with UCare,” said Sona Mehring, founder and CEO, CaringBridge. “UCare employees touch the lives of so many people during a health journey. By recommending services available through CaringBridge, UCare can help make the health journey easier for its members and their families and friends.”

Personal CaringBridge web sites save time and emotional energy by centralizing communication and simplifying the task of updating everyone during a health challenge. Each CaringBridge site is unique. Authors select their web site design and add health updates and photos about their story. In turn, visitors can leave messages in the guestbook, creating a network of support.


Disability a focus for arts grantees

Organizations that serve artists with disabilities were among recipients of Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) grants. The council gave $515,707 in Arts Activities Support Grants to 56 organizations this fall. This was the first round of its FY 2011-2012 Arts Activities Support grant program. The organizations and projects chosen demonstrate both strong artistic quality and a connection to a community. This round’s funded projects include: photography workshops; puppetry; choral, orchestral, and jazz music; theater performances; film festivals; traditional and ethnic dance; outdoor concerts and more.

In Hennepin County, among the groups funded is Angel Foundation,  A grant of $5,561 will help 10 to 15 teens who have a parent with cancer to participate in a photography workshop under the direction of photographer Scott Streble. The workshop will begin in January 2012.

Another Hennepin County grantee is Ascension Place, An $8,000 grant will provide a multidisciplinary arts program for residents of Ascension Place-a transitional housing program serving women struggling with mental illness and chemical dependency. The 2011 – 2012 program will include creative writing, sewing, and soul art groups, in addition to hosting six artists-in-residence.

Ramsey County recipients include the Artsy Aging Project, which received $5,266 for six months of arts programming for seniors. Programming will take place at senior homes in the seven-county metro area. 

The Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health,, received $10,000 for Beyond Fidgety Fairy Tales: The Fourth Mental Health Musical, a 40-minute performance using familiar fairy tales to illustrate symptoms of children’s common mental health disorders. Twelve performances will take place throughout the metro area in April 2012.

A third Ramsey County-based recipient is Veterans in the Arts,  This group will use $9,150 for six introductory art classes for military veterans from September 2011 through June 2012. Classes will take place at the Veteran’s Resource Center in New Brighton and travel to six partnering arts centers.

A suburban Hennepin County group awarded a grant of $8,295 is Partnership Resources, Inc. This group will present Subject: Impressionism, a series of art classes introducing the works of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists to adults with developmental disabilities. The activities will take place between October 2011 and February 2012 and culminate in a public exhibition of student work.

Also out of suburban Hennepin County, Reach for Resources, Inc.,, will use a $2,000 grant for a four-part workshop introducing teens and adults with developmental disabilities to a variety of fine art forms. Workshops will take place at the Brooklyn Center Community Center in October and November 2011 and culminate in an art exhibition at the Minnetonka Community Center in December.


Park Square names associates

Downtown St. Paul’s Park Square Theater has announced four new artistic associates. Artistic Director Richard Cook said this “creative quartet” will work with him to expand Park Square’s play selection and community reach in preparation for the opening of the Thrust Stage in 2013.

“I’m hungry for the insights and perspectives from up-and-coming artists,” said Cook. “My goal with the Artistic Associates is to widen the circle of people who come to me with ideas and open up Park Square to new points of view. I feel this team will serve as a bridge to what is new and different in theatre in the region and nation, and expand our reach to a broader segment of the community.” 

The four artists, who are playwrights, directors, producers and actors, have careers in the Twin Cities as well as in other communities nationwide. Each has signed on for a three-year commitment. They are Brian Balcom, director and producer; Aditi Kapil, playwright, director and actor; Carson Kreitzer, playwright and James A. Williams, director, actor and teacher.

Kapil’s current project is indicative of the insights Cook is seeking from the Artistic Associates: she is directing Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries at Mixed Blood Theatre which will open in November. The play features deaf performers Nic Zapko and Alexandria Wailes and will be entirely in American Sign Language (ALS) with super-titles.


Hiring of employees with disabilities in spotlight

The advantages of hiring workers with disabilities will be shared with 350 area business leaders at “Celebrate Opportunity—An Executive Networking and Business Recognition Luncheon,” co-hosted by nonprofit Opportunity Partners and the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. 

The luncheon is 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Doubletree Park Place, St. Louis Park. Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased at

The event features keynote speaker Randy Lewis, Walgreens’ Senior Vice President-Supply Chain Management. Walgreens promotes inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce, marketplace and supplier chain.

The company has a goal to fill 20 percent of its distribution center jobs with people who have disabilities. Lewis will share how the multi-million dollar company benefits in countless ways by seeing the “ability” in everyone.

Attendees will enjoy an executive networking session followed by a three-course lunch and an educational presentation emceed by WCCO 4 News anchor Frank Vascellaro. Opportunity Partners will recognize General Mills, Graco, Lunds and Byerly’s, and Whole Foods Market at the event for advancing work opportunities for people with disabilities.

Among the business people in attendance will be Diane Duguay, Director of Employee Relations and Diversity at Kraus-Anderson Construction Co.  Duguay began working with Opportunity Partners in 2006 when Kraus-Anderson hired a young man with Down Syndrome to join their team providing office/clerical support.“If employers understood the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and the wonderful relationship they can have with organizations like Opportunity Partners, more people would do it. That message needs to continue to be shared with employers, because until we actually embarked on it, we didn’t know how awesome it really was,” Duguay said.

Duguay originally connected with Opportunity Partners as her company sought ways to diversity its workforce. This happened after she was approached by a colleague about hiring workers with disabilities.

The partnership with that first hire was so successful, Kraus-Anderson has since gone on to hire several other individuals with disabilities including Down Syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Duguay has taken her passion a step further and now speaks publicly about hiring people with disabilities. “One of my missions is to continue to share with other employers about the advantages of hiring workers with disabilities. I think that if employers really understood the benefits, they too would get more involved and actively look for ways to provide opportunities. It is a choice that you can make to can truly make a difference in someone’s life in a very positive way,” she said.

Kraus-Anderson is a sponsor of the Nov. 1 event. Other supporters include Linked Minnesota, Wells Fargo, General Mills, Walgreens, Graybow Communications Group, Midwest Staffing, and Thiel, Campbell, Gunderson, Anderson & Levine, P.L.L.P. To learn more about this event or to become a sponsor, email [email protected] or call 952-912-2494. Tickets are available at  Opportunity Partners is a nonprofit organization serving 1,700 people with disabilities annually through employment, training and residential programs.

The TwinWest Chamber of Commerce’s 1,000 members represent a variety of businesses and industries, ranging from national and internationally renowned corporations and industrially driven manufacturers, to home-based businesses and companies involved in the service and professional sectors. Most chamber members are from the western and northwestern Minneapolis suburbs. For more information, go to


Electronic medical records practical for many reasons

The current administration has done its job incentivizing physicians and hospitals to transition from a paper-based system to electronic health records through meaningful use. However, patients have yet to claim their role as the new focus of healthcare and suggest—or even demand—that their physicians adopt electronic technology and offer them greater ownership of their care and records. Betty Otter-Nickerson, president of Sage Healthcare, listed 10 reasons why patients should start asking their doctors to go electronic.

1) In the wake of natural disasters, electronic medical records are much more secure when kept electronically. Recent floods and tornados are proof that paper medical records are at great risk of being destroyed during any disaster, natural or man-made.

2) Patients want access to their own records anytime and anywhere, regardless of their doctor’s office hours. Medical records and test results should be available at all times to patients from any web-connected portal, as is the case with electronic systems currently and readily available.

3) Patients who strive to be environmentally responsible can do their part by supporting the transition from paper records to electronic. A study published in the May 2011 issue of Health Affairs reflected that electronic records not only save thousands of tons of paper, but the technology also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by replacing face-to-face visits for virtual visits and by allowing patients to fill prescriptions online.

4) What patient doesn’t want a doctor who is up on the latest technology? Perceptually, a physician’s use of an electronic record-keeping system signals that the doctor is up to date on their medical methodologies for treating patients. There is something innovative to be said for physicians who embrace technology and updated approaches to running their practice.

5) When patients travel locally or abroad, they want to know that, if they get sick, whomever is treating them will have access to their latest medical procedures, medication and any care instructions their physician may have included in their record. This increases the chances they will get appropriate care, regardless of where they are in the world.

6) If a patient has a medical directive in their will, medical records can show what the next of kin should do based on a patient’s records and conversations they have had with their doctor. Electronic records eliminate the need to read through reams of paper and simplify the next of kin’s already difficult task of making decisions for their loved one.

7) Electronic records allow family members to share records for historical medical factors that can affect the care of a patient in the future.

8.) Data portability is an important factor when moving or switching physicians. A patient that owns their records can move location or even physicians more easily than patients that have to request a copy of their medical records.

9) Just as important as it is to check your credit history annually, consumers need to be educated and aware that it is equally important to verify the accuracy of their medical records regularly (as this can impact insurance, disability and other rates).

10) Doctors who use electronic records have fewer transcription errors; patients should demand that their doctors do everything in their power to avoid mistakes. In addition to avoiding mistakes, electronic records have been proven to equal fewer redundant tests, saving patients time, money and in some cases discomfort.

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