State council marks 40 years of advocacy, service

Forty years of service were celebrated October 17 by the Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD). The state council held its annual awardsBrian Ahlber, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, was a guest at the event. event in St. Paul, with more than 140 people on hand. Attendees enjoyed speakers and a video of MSCOD’s history, “Forty Years of Service and Counting,” presented by Joan Willshire, executive director of MSCOD.

The video included footage of past MSCOD executive directors and staff and some of the major accomplishments benefitting the disability community, including the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President George H.W. Bush and the construction of the Twins Stadium.

MSCOD’s major accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work from past and present staff and council members. Many were at the event, including Margot Imdieke Cross, who has been with MSCOD for 28 years. A special tribute (which turned into a roast with lots of laughs) was given to Imdieke Cross or, as most know her as just Margot, at the event. Several colleagues including Anne Henry, Curt Wiehle and Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, spoke about their most memorable moments working with her over the years. Marty said, “When you worked with Margot, sometimes you would get the feeling that you work for her and that she was the boss.”

Margot Imdieke Cross was feted for 28 years of advocacy.Imdieke Cross’ accomplishments include building code, ADA enforcement, disability parking, elections, housing and more recently, emergency preparedness. To this last point, Willshire joked, “For years, Margot has fought for us to get into buildings and now she is fighting for us to get out of buildings.”

Former State Rep. John Kriesel was keynote speaker. The longtime Minnesota National Guard member was struck by a roadside bomb in Iraq, causing him to lose both of his legs. He gave a compelling and inspiring speech about the experience of his injury and how he regained his mobility and independence as a double amputee.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie received the highest honor, the Minnesota Award. “It was a tremendous honor to be recognized, and it was a meaningful experience to have the opportunity to share the stage at the council’s award ceremony with so many incredible people who are making a difference across our state to help those with disabilities.

I look forward to working with the council to further support accessibility at the polling place,” he said. Ritchie’s award was presented by Brian Ahlberg, chief of staff for Iowa U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin. Harkin, one of the original authors of the ADA and a tireless advocate and supporter of disability issues and civil rights, offered his congratulations to MSCOD via video at the event.Former State Rep. John Kriesel greeted MSCOD Executive

For a complete list of this year’s award recipients, visit MSCOD’s website at www.disability.state.mn.us