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Farewell to the Community from Mary Hartnett

Speech from Mary's September 3, 2019 Celebration

9/11/2019 12:32:26 PM

Woman onstage with microphone in hand. Two sign language interpreters are also onstage.

I am the luckiest person in the world. For 19 years I got to be part of this great organization and work with you all to make the changes you wanted to see.

Every day I have learned from you and it’s made me a better person. There are so many people to thank today. We have created a web of networks together. It is a web that has been woven from different communities and allies. Deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. Visual language, spoken language, tactile language. Legislators, researchers, attorneys, judges, state agencies, teachers, physicians, interpreters, captionists, deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind and parent and citizen advocates using their collective power to advance communication equity for children and adults.

Nothing is more energizing than successfully solving problems together. And we have been able to do it time and time again. By working together we have made the voting process, the legislature, the courts, technology, the education, health and human service and the campaign process more accessible and equitable.

I am grateful to the legislators who became our champions. And the staff at the capitol who supported us along the way. And became friends.

I am grateful for the close relationships we’ve developed with the Minnesota DeafBlind Association, the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, the Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community, Black Deaf Advocates, Hearing Loss Association of America and Minnesota Hands and Voices.

I want to thank my co-workers for the great work they do and their commitment to engaging the community and having the community vision guide the way. I want to thank the board for their courageous leadership. The Disability Agency Forum for the cross-disability work we have done to create a more equitable world. I want to thank every person that testified at the capitol and were willing to share their stories. And to the consultants who provided us the community expertise and technical expertise we needed to achieve our goals.

And I want to thank my family and friends for always being there. I especially want to thank my husband Joe and my daughter Rose for giving me the time to do work that I love. It has been a dream to work here. To work with people that I have so much respect for. I am excited for my next chapter. I am going to take a break for a few months, get reacquainted with family and friends and figure out my next steps.

It's bittersweet to leave a workplace you've enjoyed. I realize I have been very fortunate. This place, this work, and its people have meant so much to me. I am proud to have been a member of the team here. I am going to miss you all. You've been part of my journey for a long time. I've already packed memories of fun, collaboration, consultation, and friendship into my heart to take with me. I look forward to seeing what happens next and the great work you will do together. Those of you that have attended the beginning of our work groups. Know that I start them by saying “ If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together. “ There is so much more work to be done. The board and community have worked hard on their search for a new Executive Director. The best and the brightest have applied and a final offer and decision will soon be made. With your continued commitment to work together, there is no limit to what you can do.

Special Thanks from Mary

Thanks to everyone who came. This includes Gallaudet University President Bobbi Cordano and our elected officials, Senator Dave Senjem, Senator, Ann Rest, Senator John Hoffman, and Representative Diane Loeffler. There were many community and state leaders who attended, too many to name. All have a special place in my heart.

Additional information

For additional information about the MNCDHH Board's process and decision-making about the next Executive Director, visit "Today's Board Meeting Decision."


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