Two new board members named for MCIL

The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) has named to new members to its board of directors. Mai Thor and Joan […]

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The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) has named to new members to its board of directors. Mai Thor and Joan Willshire will join current board members, providing strategic guidance, valued perspective and expertise in oversight of the non-profit organization. 

Having advocated for disability rights for more than 20 years, Thor brings a deep-seated commitment to justice, equity, and inclusion. As a person living with a disability and a leader who has helped design more accessible and inclusive systems for people with disabilities, she has brought meaningful change to the community. 

Thor is a 2021 recipient of a Bush Fellowship and was awarded a residency with the College of Liberal Arts Engagement Hub at the University of Minnesota. She is working to develop a community-informed disability justice framework to incorporate into social justice systems throughout Minnesota. 

She received her B.A. from Augsburg University and a master’s degree in nonprofit and public administration from Metropolitan State University. She has worked with the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and non-profit agencies to advocate and advance disability community concerns and engagement. 

With a passion and mission to advance disability inclusion and equity, Willshire brings a depth of personal and professional experiences to her work. From disability rights, autonomous vehicles, transportation, healthcare, and emergency preparedness, she has deep knowledge of the issues impacting the disability community. She served as executive director of the Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) for 15 years and brings a thorough understanding of navigating complex public policies across multiple state agencies, legislators, committees, and governors’ administrations. 

Willshire has championed disability rights and worked to transform policies and practices across Minnesota. As president of Willshire Consulting, she currently works with businesses and organizations to help them to embrace an intersectional, equity-driven approach to disability inclusion, citing how diversity and inclusion drive innovation, collaboration and success. 

“We welcome this ‘dynamic duo’ to the MCIL Board of Directors,” said MCIL Board Chair Beth Fondell. “Mai Thor and Joan Willshire bring impressive backgrounds, proven leadership, and deep commitments to the causes and concerns of the disability community. We are so pleased to have them join us in our continued work. I look forward to their contributions in advancing MCIL’s mission of removing barriers, promoting choices, in assisting individuals with disabilities to live their most independent lives.” 

MCIL Executive Director Jesse Bethke Gomez, said, “MCIL is honored that Mai Thor and Joan Willshire have joined our distinguished board of directors. The MCIL board is deeply dedicated, and I welcome the addition of these two extraordinary individuals and all they bring to complement our current board. Their combined experiences and advocacy are inspiring, and their input will be pivotal in supporting the board’s work and our mission. We are profoundly grateful for such a wealth of expertise and guidance to help position MCIL for a promising and productive future.” 

Guided by its mission to advance the independent living of people with disabilities by removing barriers and promoting choices, MCIL has assisted people with disabilities in living their most independent lives for more than 40 years. Serving the seven-county metro area through a wide range of services, programs, resources, partnerships, and advocacy, MCIL is among the largest centers for independent living in Minnesota.

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