Culminating 40-plus years of working with people who have disabilities, Melinda Dannley retires from Rise on June 1, as the director of Rise’s Community Integration and Life Enrichment programs.
“I’ve had a wonderful career,” Melinda said. “I have enjoyed building relationships with the people we serve, their families and supporters, as well as my Rise co-workers over the years. I am proud of the programs we provide and have come to truly love the people we serve.”
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Melinda graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield with a degree in sociology and religion. Even as a child, Melinda has always wanted to work with people who faced challenges and difficulties.
She started her career by working for 20 years in a large intermediate care facility. She came to Rise in July 2000 to head Creative Partnerships South, a day training and habilitation program for people with intellectual and physical disabilities and related conditions.
“Melinda is considered to be, not only a caring professional, but someone who is eager to mentor others and assist people in developing their skills and careers,” said Rise’s Chief Program Officer Tim Dickie.
“People are naturally comfortable with her; team members seem to thrive in the close-knit and fun working environment Melinda has helped create at Rise’s Bloomington site.”
“Working here at Rise is more than earning a paycheck,” Melinda noted. “I have always wanted people to feel that they are coming here to work hard, but at the same time, that we are all connected in a real way. I want people to feel good about their efforts and foster meaningful relationships with the people we serve and their Rise co-workers.”
Melinda says that although it will be tough to walk out the door on June 1, she knows she will keep in touch and come back to visit.
“I will really miss everyone, but I am confident these programs are in capable hands.”
Melinda looks forward to having more time for her stitchery projects, reading, gardening, cooking, and health and recreational activities. She and her husband Bob are also excited for more travelling adventures.
“All of us at Rise send our sincere best wishes to Melinda in her retirement,” said President Lynn Noren. “We extend to her our heartfelt thanks for the many important contributions she has made to Rise and the people we serve over the past 18 years. Her good work will be reflected for many, many years to come.”