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Awards at the Minnesota Odyssey Conference

At the two-day Age & Disabilities Odyssey conference, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Board on Aging recognizes organizations and people who have made significant differences in the lives of people who are aging or who have disabilities.

  • The nomination period for the 2019 Odyssey Conference awards closed on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Over 30 individuals or organizations were nominated.
  • All selected recipients and their nominators were notified mid-April by phone and email
  • 2019 Award recipients to be announced at the conference

Past Award Recipients

The Odyssey conference has recognized over 40 individuals and organizations since 2005.

2017 Odyssey Award winners

At the 2017 Age & Disabilities Odyssey, four individuals and one organization were recognized for effecting change in different ways that have improved the health and lives of all persons who need services to live, work and engage in their community.

Francis Harris

St. Paul
Co-founder, Urban Partnership Community Development Center

Harris Co-Founded the Urban Partnership in 1999. The community-based organization that serves disadvantaged African-Americans in St. Paul has a mission to “enhance the soul of our community through connecting senior citizens to each other and to living assistance services.” While Harris was executive at the organization, Urban Partnership developed programs to help more than 400 older adults and their caregivers with issues such as overcoming social isolation, working wile caregiving and accessing social services and supports. In her retirement, Harris volunteers, helping children improve their reading skills.

Margot Imdieke Cross

St. Paul
Accessibility Specialist with the Minnesota County on Disability

Margot has been working for three decades to make the state more accessible to people with disabilities, including ensuring disability parking stalls are large enough to accommodate accessible vans and increasing accessible restrooms, curb cuts, buses and building entrances. She has also provided technical assistance and training to people on a range of significant building projects, including the state Capitol renovations, U.S. Bank Stadium and the St. Paul Saints ballpark, and has worked with Homeland Security on emergency preparedness.

Jodi Kritzeck

Recreational Therapist at the Minnesota Veterans Home Adult Day Center

Kritzeck co-developed a program called “Operation: Sight and Sound” with songwriter Charlie Maguire to connect veterans’ photographs (sight) and words through song (sound) in performances the veterans give in their communities. The participating veterans, who range in age from late-60s to mid-90s, often face a variety of age-related challenges such as dementia and Parkinson’s. The program encourages them to express themselves through their art, helping them share their talents and enrich their communities. It also offers assistance; Kritzeck will bring the veterans to the place they would like to write about and photograph.

Phil Norrgard

Cloquet, Minnesota
Retired Human Services Director Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe

During his 37 years working with the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe in northeastern Minnesota, Norrgard was key in building a comprehensive health and human services delivery system. The human services division tripled under his leadership, and developed an array of services for people with disabilities and older adults. Norgaard has shared his experiences as a speaker and consultant to the governor’s office and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as well as serving as a MNsure board member.

White Earth Nation Health Division

Long-Term Care Consultation program 

The White Earth Nation, Gaa-waabaabiganikaag, Health Division is a leader in tribal services for older adults and people with disabilities. It was the first tribal nation in Minnesota to offer waiver services and personal care assistance to its community, which  includes three counties in northwestern Minnesota. White Earth Nation Health Division has focused on building the capacity to provide people with disabilities and older adults with culturally based care. The tribal Health Division Long-Term Care Consultation group provides a familiar and accessible way for tribal members to get the necessary home and community-based services.

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