For the past 40-plus years, Mary Anderson has devoted her professional career supporting people with disabilities. In her many different positions in Minnesota organizations, she has developed exemplary program services, advocated for systems change, served on local and statewide organizational boards and committees, and mentored many men and women.
In short, Mary has done outstanding work and left her mark on the disability field!
For the past five years, until her retirement on July 2, Mary served as the director of Rise’s CIP Coon Rapids Day Training and Habilitation (DTH) and Supported Employment Services in Anoka County.
“I wanted to come work for Rise because it has such a great reputation statewide and nationally and is known for being at the forefront of progressive program development and delivery,” said Mary. “I have enjoyed my time here! It has been amazing to work in a very positive, collaborative environment and experience the outstanding leadership of Lynn Noren and Tim Dickie.”
A proud graduate of North Dakota State University, Mary grew up on a farm in “bison country.” Her younger brother, Mark, was born with Down’s syndrome and inspired Mary to study special education before switching to child development and family relations.
She moved to the Twin Cities after college graduation to begin her career working in residential services for people with disabilities in direct support positions. “I especially enjoyed working as recreation director,” remembers Mary. “I started a softball team, took people camping in the north woods, and even toured Florida.” Many of the people she supported had never been on an airplane or even stayed in a motel.
After a brief stint in business and personnel administration work, Mary went to work for CCP (Community Connection Partnership), a nonprofit organization in the Twin Cities providing skill development, employment, community, healthy lifestyle, and recreational supports to people with disabilities. She served as CCP’s executive director for 21 years.
Rise Vice President Tim Dickie, too, has known and worked with Mary for many years before she came to Rise. “She has such a tremendous knowledge base, as well as a great business sense and effective management skills,” said Tim. “But most importantly, Mary cares about each and every person with whom she interacts with and brings such an energized, positive approach to everything she does. People respond in kind and everyone benefits from the tone she sets.”
In 2011, Rise recognized Mary as its “Outstanding Community Partner of the Year,” honoring her 15 years serving as a volunteer on Rise’s Human Rights Committee, of which she served as chair. Mary‘s organization (CCP) worked collaboratively with Rise in the development of services for some of the last individuals to leave the regional treatment centers in the mid-nineties. Our Creative Partnerships North and South programs which were specifically designed for people leaving Minnesota’s Regional Treatment Centers and moving back to their home communities.
“I have known and worked with Mary on state and local issues for many years,” said Rise President Lynn Noren. “I have always admired her professional, compassionate dedication to people facing challenges and her ability to look at ‘big pictures’ and develop real-time solutions leading to positive changes. She is well-respected across the state and I was so happy when she came to work for Rise five years ago. Our DTH team members and the people we serve have benefitted greatly from her experience and expertise.”
Mary plans to spend more time on her family farm in North Dakota and working with her brother on his art projects. She continues to serve on boards and committees where she offers her professional expertise to improve the lives of people with disabilities throughout the state of Minnesota.
All of us at Rise offer our sincere thanks to Mary for her exemplary work and congratulate her on her retirement!
Rise is hosting an open house on Thursday, June 28 from 2 – 4 p.m. at Rise North. We hope you can join us in wishing Mary well!