People and Places

Autism Society of Minnesota announces hiring of executive director The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM), has announced the selection of […]

Generic Article graphic with Access Press emblem

Autism Society of Minnesota announces hiring of executive director

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM), has announced the selection of Ellie Wilson as its new executive director.

“Ellie brings diverse strengths and experiences to AuSM,” said Jean Bender, AuSM’s Board of Directors president. “Her passion for the Minnesota autism community is evidenced by the great work she has done to support those affected by autism, and her drive and dedication will continue to propel AuSM’s programs and services forward.”

No stranger to AuSM and well known in the autism community, Wilson spent two years as AuSM’s director of education and training before becoming an education research and project training center coordinator for the University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration. In addition to having led more than 200 professional development trainings in autism awareness and supportive strategies, Wilson has worked in home, recreational, clinical and educational settings with children, teens and adults with autism.

Wilson has pursued masters-level course work in public health administration and policy at the University of Minnesota. There she became a fellow of two major programs, Fellowship for Leadership and Education in Neuro Developmental Disabilities, and Education and Policy Fellowship for the Institute of Educational Leadership. She also has served as a board member for the Down Syndrome Foundation.

“It is a privilege to re-join the AuSM team and to be a resource and voice for the amazing Minnesota autism community, the organization has been serving the local autism community since 1971. I look forward to listening to the needs of the community and to collaborating with individuals with autism, families, educators, professionals, and community partners to increase autism awareness, acceptance, and appreciation, all of which are essential and well deserved by our community,” said Wilson.

She will join the AuSM staff on October 16.



Guild Inc. names new board members

Three new people have joined the board of directors at the nonprofit Guild, Incorporation. The nonprofit is based in St. Paul and serves people who have a mental illness.

New board member Melissa Scanlan-Duncan is the clinic manager and leader of North Suburban Family Physicians. She has an educational and professional background in hospital social work, private practice, and primary care. After being introduced to Guild by a current board member, Scanlan-Duncan knew joining the board meant she could “further the organization’s mission and ensure a wide range of health professionals could be introduced to their work.”

Ross Eggers works for a technology startup company based in Silicon Valley. Eggers recalls feeling a connection to Guild while attending Bash4Guild. The passion for the mission is personal for him as his father suffers from mental illness. Eggers looks forward to helping “spread the message of hope Guild brings to the stigmatized and forgotten.”

Bill Marzolf, President, and CEO of Andodyne, Inc., has also joined the board. Marzolf has more than 35 years of experience in the distribution of medical equipment, possesses a broad knowledge of third party reimbursement issues, and has established relationships with payers in the upper Midwest. After being introduced to Guild’s work by a friend, he became a volunteer ambassador.

But, he wanted to do something more. “What I am most looking forward to is providing support to the people who are doing the heavy lifting within the organization,” Marzolf said.



New website, new name for state council

Everything is new at the Minnesota State Council on Disability. The council has a new name – the Minnesota Council on Disability or MCD.

The council is also rolling out a new website, designed from the ground up to better serve Minnesotans with disabilities. The council’s goal is to be everyone’s first stop for disability information. Developed alongside the State of Minnesota’s rebranding efforts, the new website contains new features to help users quickly find needed information.

Featured is a mobile-responsive design, so that the site will look great and function consistently across all devices, from smartphones to tablets to desktop computers. A persistent navigation menu will aid in searches, as will a simplified organizational structure easily traversable by “breadcrumbs” that let users know where they are on the site.

A simplified page layout is also featured as is a commitment to having a website that is as accessible as it can be.

Over the next couple months watch for the roll-out of the new agency name, communications and materials. While the logos, documents, and email signatures will change, the commitment to serving Minnesotans with disabilities remains the same.

Until all of our materials have been updated to reflect the new design, users may come across references to the prior name, Minnesota State Council on Disability or MSCOD.

For more information, visit


Grants for artists, arts access are now available

VSA Minnesota, the statewide organization for arts and disability, has announced grants for artists and for arts accessibility improvements. December 1 is the deadline for Minnesota emerging artists with disabilities to apply for grants.

Six grants of $2,000 each will be awarded in early 2018 to writers, performers, composers, visual or multi-media artists. Grant money can be used for whatever will help the artist create new work – art supplies, classes, mentors, computers, cameras, time to do research, festival entry fees, etc.

Artists submit a basic application including samples of recent work, an artistic resume, list of exhibits or other accomplishments, and a statement of their approach to art and what they are considering next. A panel of artists and administrators reviews the applications and determine the recipients by March 2018. Applicants are also considered for other exhibits, publications, performances, and opportunities.

The Jerome Foundation and VSA Minnesota have been offering these annual grants since 1996. Guidelines are available at or can be requested in several formats at 612-332-3888, 800-801-3883, or [email protected].

Two funding opportunities are upcoming for Twin Cities metropolitan nonprofit arts organizations, to help make arts facilities, programming and activities more accessible to people with disabilities. ADA Access Improvement Grants of up to $15,000 are available in the seven-county Twin Cities area.

Application deadlines are December 8 and May 1, 2018. Grant information meetings and workshops on accessibility subjects will be offered. Contact VSA Minnesota at 612-332-3888 or [email protected]. Grant guidelines can be downloaded at their website.

The grants are intended to make significant or long-term improvements with the potential to involve more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs. The grants are administered by VSA Minnesota, the state organization on arts and disability, for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

Projects have included improvements to facilities, communication, programming, and staff and volunteer training. Over the past eight years, more than $1.4 million in grants has been awarded to 126 projects.





  • Struggling with Long COVID? Get support. Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Struggling with Long COVID? Get support. Talk to your healthcare provider.

DON'T LOSE IT! • Keep your Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare active • Fill out and return your renewal forms Watch your mail and go online NOW