The 2023 Minnesota Gathering for Person-Centered Practices

The 2023 Minnesota Gathering for Person-Centered Practices

Logo of the 2023 Minnesota Gathering for Person-Centered Practices. The 2023 Gathering is sponsored by the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, with parters The ARC Northland, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and The Learning Community.


On behalf of the Gathering Committee, we want to welcome and thank you for bringing your knowledge and experiences to share with the community. The last year was challenging, but it gave us an opportunity to learn more about our work and the people we serve. Your perseverance, resilience, dedication, and deep understanding of what is important to people is a beacon to others. Well, done Minnesota! As Alvin often says over our morning coffee, “Keep up the good.”

A big thank you to all the Gathering Committee Members!

From the North: Melissa Cekalla, Billie Hendrickson, Josh Howie, Beth Johnson, Becky Lambert, Betsy Gadbois, Mark Olson, Stacy Danov, Tanya Misgen

From the South: Tina Hassing, Megan Zeilinger, LeAnn Bieber, Janine Brady, Kerri Leucuta, Marta Miliken, Brittany Wood, Megan Zeilinger

From the ICI: Claire Benway, Nicole Duchelle, Nik Fernholtz, Mark Olson

Special thanks to our parters:

The Arc Northland, The Arc Minnesota, Dakota County Habilitative Services Inc, Mains'l, Minnesota Depeartment of Human Services, Olmstead County, Regional Quality Council, Residential Services Inc, St. Louis County, Trillium The learning Community for person Centered Practices

Day 1 - North • Cloquet • Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Opening plenary session • 8:30–10:30 a.m.

8:30-9:00 a.m.

Welcome and logistics from your Program Committee.

The Auditorium

Your Gathering Committee

9:00–9:15 a.m.

Welcome from the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota.

The Auditorium

9:30–10:30 a.m.

Living My Good Life. Derek and Brenda tell how person-centered planning helped Derek create a good life that includes what’s important to him as well as gives him meaning and purpose. They’ll share how they identified resources and leveraged them to support Derek’s daily life. Derek’s family is key to his support. Families often have many roles and some come with a reputation. Of course, they faced challenges as they tried to be person-centered in an oftentimes system-centered world.

The Auditorium

Derek and Brenda Smith

Session 1 • 10:45–11:45 a.m.

Yes, I'm a Professional AND a Person with Multiple Disabilities. In this session, Meredith shares how she is both a successful professional and a person with multiple disabilities, along with what influenced and taught her. She speaks briefly about disability history and some of the many barriers people with disabilities face in society. She talks about the importance of being person-centered and how to be an ally for all.

The Auditorium

Meredith J. Kujala

Person-Centered Readiness for Work. Do you know how to be a great employee? This training helps you learn the soft skills needed for a job, such as getting to work on time, having a positive attitude, having good communication, and resolving challenges. Through activities and discussion, learn to be the best CEO of your life.

Stein Conference Room

Dan Carlson and Seth Bowers

Adaptable Overview of Person-Centered Practices. The Arrowhead Regional Quality Council (ARQC) has short, adaptable, accessible overviews of person-centered practices for people with disabilities, DSPs, building managers, apartment caretakers, and transportation workers. These overviews are free of charge to these groups.

Meeting Room

Becky Lambert and Beth Johnson

Graphic Recording: Tips and Tricks. Watch how to do graphic recording when doing a person-centered plan such as a PATH. See some of the tips and tricks we have learned over the years, and practice during hands-on activities. Ask questions and learn from each other.


Melissa Weber and Kim Rowe

Learning Marketplace • 12:00–1:00 p.m.

Open Marketplace. To publish a link for your own room, please email your information to for it to be published here.

Session 2 • 1:15–2:15 p.m.

Sex Ed for EVERYONE! Statistics show that people with disabilities often do not receive education on sexual health and relationships while in school. These individuals then grow into adulthood, often without this knowledge. However, like most adults, they still want a healthy relationship. But due to their lack of knowledge, people with disabilities often get confused and are more likely to fall into unhealthy relationships and become victims of sexual assault. In this session, Meredith tells why people with disabilities aren't provided this education, how she advocates for students to make sure they get this education, and how she helps those who did not get this education. She customizes sex education curricula for people with disabilities. She also emphasizes educating and training caregivers/guardians, community providers, and society. Everyone is a sexual being so everyone should be entitled to this education.


Meredith J. Kujala

Navigating Life as a DSP. The Employee Resource program and specialist position is funded by a MN Innovations grant. It was implemented to help retain direct support professionals at RSI. The program aims to help employees keep their jobs by navigating through personal issues and instability such as mental health, child care, transportation, and housing. Staff turnover in the direct support field is high, so we must invest in our employees. The presentation will go over what has been implemented in the Employee Resource program and how it has benefitted staff at RSI.

The Classroom

Emmalie Beavens

The Power of Community Connections: Stories of Inspiration. This workshop features the unique services of Community Connections and their impact on individual lives. We introduce the history and process of Community Connections, followed by stories of success and connection. This shift of belief and inclusion will be the theme of this presentation. In 2018, the Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded RSI a two-year innovation grant to develop tools and processes to build integrated community connections by matching the people we serve with people from communities across the state. We believe these connections can become powerful relationships that benefit the people we support and the people they meet. We understand that, as advocates, we must honor the people we support and share their amazing abilities to benefit the larger community. We hope to create a culture of inclusion and kinship where the gifts and abilities of each person become visible and the human heart creates lasting friendships.

Stein Conference Room

Jeff Mortimore, Darin Burke, Javid Spaulding and Sarah Mangan

Person-Centered Planning: Mission Possible. How to make person-centered planning work in small towns. Getting people out into a community with limited options.

Meeting Room

Tim Stanoch

Better Together: Building Stronger Teams. As teams become stronger, the people you support begin to enjoy the lives they want! In this session, get tools that are proven to build stronger teams. Some of the areas covered are: staff conflict, choosing outcomes for your teams, hiring the right staff, and positive feedback for your teams. We spend so much time redirecting staff. Now is the time to build teams and support the people we serve.


Tom Wildes

Session 3 • 2:30–3:30 p.m.

The Power of Belonging. We live and work in a world where all too often, it is "us vs. them." Come and discuss how we can create environments where everyone belongs.

The Auditorium

Betsy Gadbois

Pathway of Hope. The Salvation Army in Duluth has a new initiative called Pathway of Hope. It aims to create a path out of poverty. This initiative will provide targeted services to families with children under the age of 18 who want to break the cycle of crisis. These families may be traditional and non-traditional structures. Through case management, we focus on a family's capabilities and raise hope by empowering them to overcome barriers on the path to stability. Families set their own goals, and we partner with them to provide the resources needed to accomplish each one. There are no income requirements to join the program. Each family is assigned a case manager who partners with them to set and accomplish goals. Families receive personalized support to fit their needs.

Jenny's Journey. Jenny has had an amazing journey from having an appointed guardian to becoming her own guardian. This inspiring story helps show who truly needs guardianship and what a guardian can and cannot do. When faced with a newly-appointed guardian who tried to go against Jenny's wishes, she and Melissa were forced to seek assistance with the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making (CEDSM.) After a small setback, Jenny successfully petitioned to restore capacity.

Stein Conference Room

Melissa Weber and Jennifer Nemeth

Create Positive Change with the People we Support. How to use tools, and the positive impacts that tools can make, when supporting people to realize their best lives.

Meeting Room

Sandra Donohue and Angela Strasser

The Benefits of having PCT Coaches within Organizations. Learn the benefits of PCT coaching on all levels of organizations. Through storytelling and examples, providers who use and train PCT coaches share their learning and celebrate the successes it has brought to their agencies. This session is for anyone interested in learning more about PCT coaching and how it can improve all parts of an organization.


Jennifer Steger, Brandon Hendrickson, and Billie Hendrickson

Closing Session • 3:45–4:30 p.m.

Regional World Café: Like, Learn, Change. Join regional leaders in a facilitated Like, Learn, Change session about the North region and person-centered practices. This session starts as a small-group discussion, then asks each group to come up with a solution for the North region. Each person comes out of the session with one action step they will continue after today.

The Auditorium

Billie Hendrickson and the North Gathering Committee Team

Day 1 - South • Rochester • Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Opening Plenary Session • 8:30–10:30 a.m.

8:30-9:00 a.m.

Welcome and logistics from your Program Committee.

9:00-10:00 a.m.

Social Change: The Missing Piece of the Person-Centered Puzzle. To understand the present, and make good decisions for the future, we must understand the past. This is especially true for understanding person-centered thinking, planning, and practices. The person-centered approach began as part of a larger social change/community change movement of people with disabilities and their allies. Sadly, the social change/community change work of the person-centered approach was pushed aside. Today, people from a broad sector of historically-oppressed communities are calling out the inequities and injustices that have kept people poor, marginalized, and often invisible. We can no longer ignore the social change/community change roots of the person-centered approach. Disability Justice now demands cross-movement solidarity and collective liberation. There are lessons to learn from person-centered pioneers to apply to our collective work to support people with disabilities as they pursue an everyday life as visible, engaged, and valued community members and leaders.

Oak Room

The South Gathering Committee Members


Oak Room

Nancy M. Fitzsimmons

Session 1 • 10:15–11:15 a.m.

Employment for People With Disabilities: Highlights from Olmsted County - . This session highlights two initiatives: (1) a successful attempt at strategically removing barriers to hiring individuals with diverse abilities, and (2) the creation of a Diverse Abilities Alliance Group.

Oak Room

Emily Hagstrom, Marcia Vettel, Sarah Welper, Sue Stanek, and Lisa Morris-Helmstetler

The Power of Person-Centered Thinking. Person-centered thinking is important when caring for older adults and others. This session explores the value of decision making and establishing relationships that help individuals become engaged and respected in their communities.

Spruce Room

Laurie Brownell and Marie Hlava

Peer Mentoring to Support CIE. Minnesotans with intellectual and developmental disabilities are educating others on the rights and opportunities to work in competitive integrated employment.

Maple Room

Olivia Lape and Dupree Edwards

Unpacking the Principles of Disability Justice. This session provides an overview of this framework and inspires attendees to incorporate disability justice principles into their work and daily lives.

Learning Marketplace • 12:00–1:00 p.m.

Session 2 • 1:15–2:15 p.m.

SEMCIL's Assistive Technology Program. Assistive technology can improve or maintain an individual’s independence in their home, workplace, educational setting, or community. This session discusses and defines assistive technology, showcases devices, and shares information about SEMCIL's services.

Oak Room

Chanell Calhoun

Creating a Person-Centered Transportation Community. The Region 10 Quality Council is exploring the development of a Regional Transportation Coordination Committee (RTCC) in southeast Minnesota. Panelists explain what an RTCC is and how it could improve transportation for everyone. Transportation barriers can impact people socially, economically, and health-wise. Participate in a brainstorming activity on transportation barriers in southeast Minnesota and work toward solutions.

Maple Room

Elijah Gray, Tom Gottfried, Erickson Schafer, Shelly Rohe, and Melanie Brennan

Charting the Life Course: Exploring Decision Making Supports. The Exploring Decision Making Supports tool from Charting the Life Course helps family members, trusted supporters, professionals, and individuals reflect on supporting people as they make decisions for themselves. This session will help people learn how to use the tool and to consider supports for making decisions.

Willow Room

Nora Ulseth

PCT Tool Refresher. This session is a refresher on PCT skills and tools, as well as a conversation on how to readily use them. Participants will also look at scenario examples and decide which tools work best, or consider whether a full person-centered planning session makes more sense.

Spruce Room

LeAnn Bieber

Session 3 • 2:30–3:30 p.m.

Connecting People with Disabilities to Employment. Learn how a reverse job fair places the job seeker first and allows businesses to focus on individual job seeker skills. Connect with others working to develop inclusive workplace cultures that attract and retain people with disabilities. Maxabilities' mission is maximizing career success for people with disabilities as the trusted resource network for regional businesses.

Oak Room

Dawn Swiers and Laurie Ackerman

Applying Person-Centered Practices in a Community Physical Rehabilitation and Specialized Wellness Program. Traditional physical rehabilitation practices often use a medical model of patient engagement, which includes expert recommendations within patient-expressed goals for health improvement. Care is often defined by the medical diagnosis and the disability; personal preferences or ideas are often ignored in the overall plan of care. This expert-over-patient interaction model often undermines the relationship between therapist and patient.

EA Therapeutic Health has used person-centered practice—known as the EA Way—for more than 10 years. The EA Way works with people of all ages who seek to improve their health and independence in the setting of physical, medical, or intellectual challenges. Rehabilitation therapists and exercise specialists at EA Way create an environment where participants choose their own person-centered health goals, and these goals drive their plan.

EA Therapeutic Health staff discuss the successes and challenges of incorporating person-centered practice in a program where people living with a wide variety of disabilities look to EA Way staff to be the experts who guide the program plan. EA Way staff also guide the process, using evidence-based practice due to payor relations with health insurance and government agencies. There is often a pull back to the expert/patient model that requires procedures and policies to keep the person in the center of care planning.

Maple Room

Melanie Brennan, PT, DPT

My Self-Advocacy Journey. A self-advocate recalls her journey and how it made her the person she is today. Her story may help other people learn how to self-direct their own lives.

Willow Room

Karli Harguth

Crisis Response in Olmsted County. The Community Outreach Team responds in-person or by phone to law enforcement-dispatched calls involving a person experiencing a behavioral health-related crisis. A primary goal is to help divert individuals experiencing a mental health-related crisis from going to jail or the emergency department when either option may not be the most appropriate. Alternatively, the Community Outreach Team helps direct individuals to community resources by reducing barriers and identifying ongoing supports to mitigate future safety risk. This session provides information to anyone who may come into contact with people of any age experiencing a crisis.

Spruce Room

Chandra Dennison and Teri Dose

Regional World Café: Like, Learn, Change. Join regional leaders in a facilitated Like, Learn, Change session about the South region and person-centered practices. This session starts as a small-group discussion, then asks each group to come up with a solution for the South region. Each person comes out of the session with one action step they will continue after today.

Oak Room

Janine Brady and the South MN Gathering Committee

Closing Session • 3:45–4:30 p.m.

Day 2 - Virtual • Thursday, October 26, 2023

Learning Marketplace • 8:00–8:45 a.m.

Open Marketplace. To publish a link for your own room, please email your information to for it to be published here.

An Update from the Board and The New Curriculum: Questions and Answers. The Learning Community for person Centered Practices. (TLCPCP) Board update. And MN Trainers Session.

In Claire's Zoom Room

Yolanda Green - Board Member TLCPCP

Presentation Materials/Powerpoint

Minnesota Mentors

Plenary Session Day 2 • 9:00 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

9:00–9:15 a.m.

Welcome back and logistics.

Main Zoom Room

Program Committee

9:15–9:30 a.m.

Welcome from Minnesota Department of Human Services.

9:30 -9:45 a.m.

Welcome from the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Stewards of Humanity. The clash between the system and the soul is real; people with disabilities and their loved ones arrive to the adult world of human services dreaming of a life of joy, opportunity, safety and the supports they need. Too often, they discover that none of these are on the agenda. Advocates press for person-centered planning, person-centered delivery models and best practices. Too often, the term “person-centered” is added to service descriptions with no thought or intention; thrown around as a marketing label because it sounds good. It’s up to caregivers and individuals to find ways to insert the person into the plan. Success begins by approaching the challenge with intention as well as the strength that comes from authentic relationships built and stewarded before they reach adulthood.

What we will discuss:

  • The contrasts between the languages of service providers and recipients that contribute to the chasm of understanding. • The machination of systems delivery that has contributed to the loss of humanity in human services, and the core tenets of change that will be necessary to affect better outcomes.
  • The strategies that can be useful to individuals and their supporters in approaching services, including person-centered planning, building Circles of Support, skill building earlier in life, and caregiver preparation for the emotional rollercoaster that can impact relationships with providers.

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

World Café. As a group we will explore the challenges in providing services and supports to better understand how person centered practices can help us as state to move to the next level of sustainability and the continued journey of person centered supports in Minnesota

Question 1:

We all face challenges providing services and supports effectively (a big challenge being the staffing shortage), how are we using person centered practices to address or overcome those challenges?

Question 2:

what does keeping person centered practices alive, look like, down the road?

Question 3:

How can we support sustainability of person centered practice in Minnesota?

Main Zoom Room

Facilitated by Brittany Wood and your Gathering Committee Members

Google Form for Questions linked here

Thank you for participating in a wonderful World Café! Please use this Google Form to provide responses

Lunch Mini-Marketplaces • 12:45–1:30 p.m.

Mini-Marketplaces begin immediately after World Café. Enter when you can, during lunch.

Disability Hub MN: A Partner in Navigating Systems. Disability Hub MN is a partner in navigating the complexities of services and benefits often encountered within the disability community. This session provides an in-depth introduction to Disability Hub MN— who "The Hub" is; its virtual tools and resources; and how it supports individuals, professionals, and families in putting the pieces together so all people can live their best life, their way.

Positive Supports and Person-Centered Statewide Sustainability. The University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration and the Minnesota Department of Human Services work together to support the statewide sustainability of positive supports and person-centered practices. This session focuses on efforts supporting this initiative, including, but not limited to: sustainability plans for organizations that are already in the cohort model, sustainability training, supporting counties, Regional Quality Council mentoring and collaboration, the creation of cohort 5, and integrating new positive support models. Join us to learn more!

Open Marketplace. To publish a link for your own room, please email your information to for it to be published here.

Session 2 • 1:30–2:30 p.m.

Community of Practice: Staying Strong. Most of us joined a Community of Practice thinking this one will be different than the rest. "This group will create change and not be just a place to gripe," we thought. "This will be a place to learn and grow." How do we build a Community of Practice that actually supports growth and accomplishes the group's mission?

Never Too Early, Never Too Late: A Family’s Evolution Towards Person-Centered Planning. Join us to discuss person-centered planning from the family perspective. Jamie O’Conner is a parent who has been evolving her person-centered thinking and practices for the past 12 years while raising a child who was born with a disability. Jamie is the Outreach Coordinator for Family Voices of MN and a Charting the LifeCourse® Ambassador, Presenter, and Good Life Group Facilitator.

Charting the LifeCourse® is a framework that is about having different conversations, a different way of thinking, encouraging high expectations, having life experiences to move the trajectory in the desired direction, integrating multiple types of support, and the understanding that individuals and their families are the experts in their own lives. It’s never too early—or too late—to engage with person-centered planning and thinking. Let’s talk together about how families can lean into their expertise at all ages and stages to dream, plan, problem-solve, and articulate what a “good life” looks like for them.

The Processes, Benefits, and Challenges of Integrating Technology Resources into Services and Supports. Technology supports are an important part of person-centered planning in Minnesota for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Technology can noticeably increase self-reliance and independence by helping someone to do more for themselves as they live full lives in the community. Given the critical workforce shortage, home closures, and limited resources, people with disabilities and their families are starting to plan differently in order to meet needs. Technology offers a chance to address current and future staffing issues and at the same time encourages a new level of safe independence. This session is about the processes, benefits, and challenges of integrating technology resources into services and supports.

In Mark's Zoom Room

Kathy Nesheim-Larson and Alaina Gallagher

Your Best Life, Your Way: Using Disability Hub Vault Activities at Any Life Stage. Disability Hub MN Vault is a unique way to store and share information securely, as well as activities from Charting the LifeCourse to support person centered-planning at any life stage. The activities invite and support conversations surrounding work and community connection. Individuals, families, and professionals can access the Vault for collaborative person-centered planning, regardless of their experience level. This is an excellent introduction to those new to person-centered practices as the activities provide guiding questions each step of the way. Join us for a guided tour of these activities.

In Nicoles's Zoom Room

Marcy Lacroix

Closing Remarks • 2:30–4:00 p.m.

Logistics and wrap up.

Thank you

The Main Zoom Room

Claire Benway and the Gathering Committee Team

Be a part of our Virtual Gallery Walk! This year, add your virtual poster to the MN Gathering YouTube page . A Gallery Walk is a visual representation you share at the Gathering that shows how you and/or your organization are putting your gifts, skills, interests, and dreams into action. Have fun recording with colleagues from your organization or individually at your home, walking us through what you have been doing during this time to put your dreams into action. Be creative and inventive. Record on Zoom, your cell phone, or another device. Then upload your recording to our YouTube page or send it to or Mark Olson at Entries are also accepted via Google Drive. The Gallery Walk Instructional Video on our YouTube Channel will help you get started. For questions or help, please email us at

Have something to submit to the Gallery Walk? Send videos to Mark Olson at:

Department of Human Services Gallery Walk Video Submissions

Family support organizations in Minnesota have been capturing how families of children with disabilities are using Charting the LifeCourse and their experience. We have 3 new Minnesota family videos that are 10 minutes and under. Can we please post these to the Gallery Walk? Thank you! Beth pairs her son's Integrated Supports Star with a daily schedule to illustrate what a "no camp" summer day looks like and how her family draws on its supports or resources throughout the day. Jamie walks us through how she used the Charting the Life Course Trajectory Tool with her kids to understand their wants for a "Good Life." Jamie shares one of the fundamental concepts to Charting the LifeCourse that each of us exist in the context of our family and community.

Learning Marketplace Information

A Learning Marketplace is an opportunity for everyone to contribute and learn in short, smaller, more intimate sessions. You decide what you would like to share or learn and post that in the marketplace. This year, you can post your topic in the Virtual Venue. These are meant to be opportunities to hear from other people at the Gathering. Support the community in the room to share and learn from each other.

Learning Marketplace Tutorial - What to look for in the Virtual Venue and how to submit.

Submit your Learning Marketplace Session by emailing and including: topic, short description, date/time, presenter's name and your video conferencing (Zoom, Webex, Google Meet, etc.) link.

Appreciation and Gratitudes

Click this link to post your Appreciations and Gratitudes

Feedback and Evaluation s

Thank you for attending. Please tell us about your experience at the Gathering.

Day 1 - Regional In Person Day - 2023 MN Gathering Feedback Form

Day 2 - Live Online Virtual Day - 2023 MN Gathering Feedback Form

Participation Certificate

Please access your certificate of attendance HERE .

More Resources

Mad Hatter Wellness

A Minnesota Resource for parents and teens to support conversations on growing up and supporting health and wellness.

Spark and Stich

We offer workshops, online classes, and free resources to help you better understand kids and teens so that you can focus on raising them.