People & Places – March 2022

Chrestomathy is on the move to new quarters  Longtime disability services provider Chrestomathy has opened a new day services facility […]

Chrestomathy participants are enjoying a new space.

Chrestomathy is on the move to new quarters 

Longtime disability services provider Chrestomathy has opened a new day services facility in Minnetonka. The move marks the end of an era, as the nonprofit left its longtime Minneapolis location. Chrestomathy began in Minneapolis in 1985. 

It serves individuals with complex needs and various levels of intellectual disabilities. Many clients have challenging behaviors. 

“We’re bringing back as many of our pre-COVID participants as we can and also dedicating a few openings to others, notably those who are isolated at home with their parents and/or close matches with existing participants,” said Executive Director Linda Moore. 

“The last two years have been difficult for everyone in society, but particularly difficult for people with intellectual disabilities and comorbid conditions,” said Moore. “They can’t see the big picture. Their lives were disrupted, their relationships disrupted, and their health was disrupted.” 

The new location is in a former call center in the Opus Business Park. Chrestomathy serves 22 individuals with disabilities and is licensed by the state to work with up to 50. 

Rather than having a large room environment, Chrestomathy uses a pod system with cohorts or smaller groups of people engaging in programming. 

“There are beautiful views, the Minnetonka trail system, restaurants and coffee shops, and a few of our clients work nearby at one of the high rises for UnitedHealthcare,” said Moore.  

Individuals with disabilities each have an office cubicle to decorate with personal items and store their things. Program Director Nathan Fryett said the cubicles have a stabilizing effect on many of the participants, much like having one’s own desk. 

Cooking, karaoke, in-house work, and in-community employment are among Chrestomathy’s offerings. Clients range in age from 20s to late 60s, with some being involved since Chrestomathy’s beginning. 

Demand for such services is high. Moore said a great challenge is finding additional quality staff to assist these individuals and this is holding back the resumption of services. Some participants have been isolated at home for nearly two years and have lost ground both physically and socially. 

Klaber wins award 

The Council of Administrators of Special Education has awarded John Klaber the Harrie M. Selznick Distinguished Service award. Klaber is executive director for the Minnesota Administrators for Special Education (MASE). 

MASE is organized to promote professional leadership, provide the opportunity for study of problems common to its members, and to communicate, through discussion and publications, information that will develop improved services for exceptional children. Its purpose is to foster high quality programs of professional development for members, to make studies of selected programs that relate to services to children with disabilities, improving the leadership of administrators for special education and to be active in the legislative process. 

Klaber’s service to the field of education spans over four decades. He began his career in 1975 as a high school teacher and varsity basketball coach. He then moved through various roles including school psychologist, school administrator, director of human resources, and director of special education.  

In addition to being a career-long leader in the field of special education, Klaber has also made significant contributions on a state and national levels. He has led MASE since 2013. 

Klaber has an unwavering commitment to the field of special education and the immense support of special educators and administrators. His calm and graceful approach has helped MASE build partnerships with legislators, superintendents, business managers, and parent advocates.  

During his tenure as the MASE executive director, the organization has grown by more than 20 percent. He was instrumental in establishing the MASE Business Partnership Program, which supports professional development throughout the state while also providing consistent annual revenue. As the Face of MASE, he has created a collaborative relationship with the Minnesota Department of Education.  

Klaber’s dedication to the field of special education and his history of service has led to other awards, including the 2018 MASE Distinguished Service Award and the 2021 MASE Legacy Award. 

NAMI Minnesota announces board officers 

New officers have taken the helm at NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota), NAMI Minnesota is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families through its programs of education, support and advocacy. It is the largest grassroots advocacy organization of its kind in the state. 

The 2022 slate of board officers will work to support NAMI’s mission and improve accessibility and inclusivity throughout the organization and to improve public and professional understanding of mental illnesses for all communities. 

President Mariah Owens is owner of Nawe Partners, a communications company that specializes in corporate and non-profit communications. She has family members with mental illness. Owens is NAMI Minnesota’s first African-American board president.  

First Vice President Jessica Gourneau, PhD, is a psychologist and clinical director at the American Indian Family Center. She has worked for more than 23 years providing mental health services to the American Indian community.  

Second Vice President Susan Holter is chief development officer at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. She is the parent of a college-age child with mental illness. 

Board Treasurer Kevin Hanstad is a retired marketing research executive and volunteer. He has a family member living with a mental illness. 

Board Secretary Beatric Officer is a supervisor in the Dakota County Community Corrections System and has years of experience in creating alternatives for juveniles. She is a parent of a young adult with mental illnesses. 

Executive Member-at-large Kristi Fox is chief human resources officer of Securian Financial. She views advocacy for mental health awareness and benefits as critical for employers who commit to being an inclusive workplace for all. 

Startups receive funding 

Launch Minnesota has awarded nearly $440,000 in matching grants to 17 local startups who were competitively awarded more than $8 million in federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer funding. Of the 17 grantees, 10 are BIPOC or woman-owned businesses and/or are located in Greater Minnesota. The grants were announced by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). 

The startups in the funding round received support from a designated state resource, which delivers free, hands-on expertise and technical assistance to startups and small businesses to access funding. The Accelerator provides this assistance through funding provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration, DEED and other private and academic partnerships. 

Launch Minnesota continues to cultivate partnerships with to help grow its innovation ecosystem, leverage federal grants, and accelerate the launch of new technologies, said Neela Mollgaard, executive director of Launch Minnesota. “Access to capital, connectivity and talent are critical in accelerating businesses.” 

Several grantees are at work on medical needs. Ability Interactive of Eagan is developing a novel computerized assessment tool to improve outcome measures in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s clinical trials. SuraMedical of Minneapolis is developing an innovative wound alert treatment monitoring system enabling real-time monitoring. 

GogyUp of Minneapolis is developing assistive reading technology to increase patients’ ability to understand, manage, and communicate information about chronic disease. Xanthos Health of St. Paul plans to develop and pilot a novel electronic health record-enabled standards-based mobile health information technology. 

Visit LaunchMinnesota.org to learn more, and see the full list of Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants.  

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