People & Places – September 2017

Calvit is Pollen honoree Jeanne Calvit, founder, creative director and executive director of Interact Center for Visual and Performing Acts […]

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Calvit is Pollen honoree

Jeanne Calvit, founder, creative director and executive director of Interact Center for Visual and Performing Acts is one of the 2017 50 Over 50 honorees. For the second year,

AARP Minnesota and Pollen Midwest are honoring 50 Minnesotans over the age of 50. The honorees are saluted for their impact in the arts, business, community building, and the nonprofit sector. The group is also saluted for its work that disputes commonly held myths about aging and taking risks. Calvit and her fellow nominees will be recognized at the 50 Over 50 event Tuesday, October 17 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Calvit has used the improv rule of thumb of “Yes, but …” to guide her work. She has been helping change perceptions of disability for more than two decades. Because of Calvit’s vocal insistence that artists with disabilities can—and do— create high-quality, professional work, Interact has received critical acclaim nationally and locally. Interact has also won two Ivey Awards for originality and best original music theater score, groundbreaking accomplishments for artists whose work historically never reaches the public eye.

Calvit draws her inspiration from Interact’s diverse, multi-generational ensemble. Artists blossom and shine under her direction. Her uncompromising vision of “radical inclusion” dissolves ideas of who can and who cannot, and unites a wide spectrum of talented artists with and without disabilities from both marginalized and mainstream communities.


Estrem is ARRM board leader

John Estrem, CEO of Hammer Residences, Inc. is the new board president for ARRM, an association representing more than 200 direct care providers and supporting service providers for people with disabilities in Minnesota.

Estrem has served as CEO of Hammer for five years, and is in his second term on the ARRM board, most recently serving as its treasurer. He brings more than 20 years of non-profit and social service experience to ARRM’s leadership team, serving as executive director of Episcopal Community Services and CEO of Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and St. Paul before joining Hammer.

On the board, he takes over from John Kehr, regional special projects director at Dungarvin, Inc.

“I am humbled to have been elected to this important role by my fellow Board Members and am excited to take on a new leadership role in the association that represents our industry,” said Estrem. “We are at a critical juncture in Minnesota to ensure that support services for people with disabilities continue to be able to empower people to live their best lives, and I look forward to seeing that ARRM remains a leader in this advocacy.”

Estrem is a leading advocate for people with disabilities and the organizations and staff that provide supportive services. He has been a key voice for the This Is Medicaid campaign, a group educating the public and lawmakers about the importance of Medicaid, and has been a strong representative at the capitol on a range of social service issues.


Way to Work Program wins award

Way to Work, a Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services program in partnership with ProAct, Inc. in Eagan, county and state level human service agencies was given a 2017 Minnesota State Government Innovation Award. The program helped to place people with disabilities in competitive jobs.

“Our employment specialists were dedicated and passionate about this pilot project,” said ProAct Employment Manager Heather Deutschlaender. “We are excited as we continue to place more people in jobs and help them reach their goals.”

The unique arrangement brought vocational rehabilitation services counselors in-house at ProAct for intensified efforts to find employment for individuals with disabilities. ProAct employment specialists and vocational specialists worked to rapidly engage people in job searches that best matched their interests.

Way to Work assisted 94 such people at ProAct, placing 32 in competitive jobs. Thirty-two others are actively engaged in community-based job searches. Another 21 are developing their career plans.

Wages range from $9.50 to $11 per hour. “The best part about this project is that it is a win-win for employers and our individuals,” said Deutschlaender.

Way to Work accepted applicants at ProAct through June. But the nonprofit’s leaders said that the best practices learned through the program are expected to continue here, and through the statewide service delivery system.


Poetz wins national award

Cliff Poetz of the University of Minnesota’s Regional Training Center on Community Living has been selected to receive the Leadership in Advocacy Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. The association will honor him and other award winners at its conference in November in Washington, D.C.

The Leadership in Advocacy Award is presented to an outstanding individual or family member who has exhibited exceptional leadership and self-advocacy skills in the area of developmental disabilities. Poetz, who has been a self-advocate and activist for decades, was nominated for his leadership and self-advocacy skills. His years of involvement span housing, employment and other disability rights issues. He has been a fixture at the state capitol, and is a skilled lobbyist.

Poetz was the 2016 winner of the Access Press Charlie Smith Award, given for outstanding service to Minnesota’s disability community.

The conference theme this year is Raise Your Voice, underscoring the critical importance that communication and advocacy, both collective and personal, have in the lives of people with disabilities.


McKinney leads Radio Talking Book

Scott McKinney is the new supervisor at the State Services for the Blind’s Radio Talking Book program. He takes over from Stuart Holland, who has retired.

McKinney has vast experience in broadcasting, journalism and community services. A graduate of Augustana College, McKinney also has leadership experience as a station manager and as an agency planner. He most recently edited the Braham Journal and has authored a blog. McKinney also has research and grant writing experience with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

He has a history of becoming involved in diverse communities and developing effective community relationships. Every year he travels to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia to participate as a site manager in a Celtic music festival called Celtic Colors.


Albright joins UCare

UCare has hired David Albright as the not-for-profit health plan’s new vice president and chief information officer. Prior to joining UCare, he was vice president of information technology at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, where he led all aspects of the IT division for three years. He has also held senior-level data analytics and IT roles at Optum, Moneygram International, Inc. and Minnegasco. He has played a key role in the health care technology field and has served on a number of advisory councils.

In his new position, he provides vision and strategic direction for UCare’s technology staff and systems to enable the health plan to efficiently and effectively serve members and business partners. He oversees all areas of IT operations including architecture, infrastructure, applications, web, security, quality assurance, data and service. Albright is responsible for establishing and implementing UCare’s technology vision, strategy and roadmap in alignment with organizational strategies and priorities. Albright reports to UCare Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Hilary Marden-Resnik,

“Dave brings proven experience and leadership to the most senior IT role at UCare. He is expert at building strong partnerships, fostering engaged teams, enhancing processes and services, and implementing enterprise-wide technology efforts. What’s more, he has a passion for UCare’s mission and future success,” said Marden-Resnik.

Albright and his family live in St. Paul.


State council member named

Gov. Mark Dayton in August announced a new appointment to the State Rehabilitation Council. Lisa Parteh of Cambridge will serve as a community rehabilitation program provider representative. Her term expires in early 2019.

She replaces Clayton Liend.




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