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The Arc Mission of the Year Awards


At the annual meeting in May, 2018, The Arc Minnesota recognized seven individuals and organizations with the agency’s Leader of the Year Awards.  These honors recognize contributions that further The Arc Minnesota’s mission of supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families and advocating for their human rights.


Karen Powell of Edina, Minnesota received Arc’s Value Village Volunteer of the Year award, which recognizes a person who demonstrates an ongoing commitment to supporting the mission of The Arc through service at its Value Village thrift stories.  Powell was recognized for being a tireless volunteer at Arc’s Value Village store in Richfield, Minnesota, volunteering more than one shift in a day on many occasions.  Arc’s Value Village stores generate substantial revenue to support The Arc Minnesota; they have raised more than $26 million since 1982.


The Pioneer Endicott Building in St. Paul was honored as Arc’s Value Village Thrift Partner of the Year.  This award recognizes an organization that has shown exceptional commitment to supporting The Arc Minnesota and Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores through volunteerism or donations.  Pioneer Endicott Building residents have donated 50,000 pounds of goods to the thrift stores, making a profound impact on The Arc Minnesota.


The Arc Minnesota Intern Leader of the Year honor was presented to Cassie Dong of Woodbury, Minnesota.  Dong was recognized as an individual who has participated in experiential learning with The Arc Minnesota or one of its regional offices, which could include a field placement, internship, or a student consulting project.  During her tenure, she set design standards and implemented a consistent brand look and feel across The Arc Minnesota’s communications materials.


The Arc Minnesota Public Policy Leader of the Year Award was given to This Is Medicaid.  This award recognizes an individual or organizations that work toward system change to promote and protect the human rights of people with I/DD and their families.  This Is Medicaid is a working coalition of more than 50 organizations that share the belief that Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance in Minnesota, must be protected and preserved for people with disabilities and individuals with low-incomes.


Jonathon Wolner of Fairmont, Minnesota was this year’s recipient of The Arc Minnesota Self-Advocacy Leader of the Year.  This honor recognizes an outstanding self-advocate who speaks up for themselves and others.  Wolner is a leader in the self-advocacy movement in Southwest Minnesota.  He serves on the Board of the area People First group, is President of the local Aktion Club, and is an active participant in the Olmstead Academy.


The Arc Minnesota Mission Leader of the Year award goes to both an organization and an individual.   Special Olympics Minnesota received the honor for an organization, given to a community or corporate partner who has made significant impact in promoting human rights and community inclusion – the core of The Arc Minnesota’s mission.  Special Olympics Minnesota was recognized for its statewide leadership in creating opportunities for inclusion


The Mission Leader of the Year award given to an individual or family who has made a significant impact to further The Arc Minnesota’s mission was presented to Debbi Harris of Eagan, Minnesota.  She has been active as a Board member of The Arc Minnesota and serves on its Public Policy Committee.  She is a regular host of home visits with elected officials, where people with disabilities and their families share their stories, discuss disability program and policy issues, and offer solutions to challenges they face with current services and/or policies.


See photos of all The Arc Minnesota Leader of the Year recipients on our Facebook page.