Bridget Siljander – executive director
Bridget has been active in the disability community since 1997, serving as a personal care assistant, advocate, board chair, author, speaker, and trainer. YLF is the third nonprofit that she has helped build. She has a 16-year old daughter with cerebral palsy. And she earned a B.A. in psychology, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a 2013 Bush Foundation Fellowship Finalist. Some of her professional background includes: College of Direct Support, Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota, Direct Care Alliance, and the Minnesota Center for Twin & Family Research. She Is the 2013 recipient of the Minnesota State Council on Disability Mentorship Award. She serves on the Minneapolis Community Transition Interagency Committee (MCTIC) and its subcommittee on workforce access. Click here for her LinkedIn profile…
Board of Directors:
Pictured above: Melvin Haagenson, Idelle Longman, Mark Hughes, Bridget Siljander
Mark Hughes – director
Mark is the host of Disability Viewpoints, a show that is taped every month at CTV’s Roseville studio. It highlights local disabled-friendly businesses, services for people with disabilities and efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. Guests have included elected officials, entertainers, athletes and advocates for the disabled.
In 2011, Disability Viewpoints won a Hometown Video Award in the Access-Able Professional category. The award was presented at the Alliance for Community Media Conference in Tucson, Arizona on July 29, 2011. Disability Viewpoints also received Hometown Video Awards in 2010, 2009 and 2005. The Hometown Video Awards honors and promotes community media and local cable programs that are first distributed on public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access cable television channels.
In addition, Mark received the Rainbow of Hope Award at the Shriners Rainbow of Hope Awards Banquet in 2005. This award recognized Mark for his ability to manage physical limitations and to become a role model within the disability community. Mark was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Idelle Longman – director
Idelle Longman earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota where she majored in Anthropology and minored in Psychology. She is married with one son. She is retired from the travel business as a tour manager. Idelle has served as a board member on the Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health and as a member on the Hennepin County Local Advisory Council for Children’s Mental Health. She was both chair of the Edina Public Health Committee and vice-chair of the Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission. Idelle was appointed by Governor Dayton and serves as a member on the State Independent Living Council. She also serves on the Mental Health Education Project. To enhance her work in public service, Idelle attends many state and national conferences along with seminars on disability. She is a graduate of Leaders of Today and Tomorrow and Partners in Policymaking. Idelle is dedicated to closing the gaps in the current disability systems, taking pressure off of families by advocating for them and educating the public.
Melvin Haagenson – director
Melvin has a passion for self-advocacy and human rights. He has kept himself very busy ever since he attended South High School in Minneapolis as football manager, basketball manager and participated in floor hockey, swimming and every morning he started out doing laundry for the school. Senior year he became part of the homecoming committee as well. In 1986 he officially became a member of the alumni association, during the 27 years as a member, Melvin has only missed 12 meetings!
After High School he started looking for work. His first job was at Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI) in St. Paul and has now worked for CCP for over 24 years! Melvin is currently a clerk/receptionist at Restart, Inc. where he answers telephone calls, transfers calls, files, sorts and shreds paper.
Another area that keeps Melvin busy is volunteering. He has participated with the following organizations over the years and continues to volunteer at many of them: Arc Minnesota, Arc Greater Twin Cities, People First of Minnesota, Advocating Change Together, Remembering With Dignity, Self-Advocates Minnesota, the Minnesota Self-Advocacy Conference Planning Committee. He is also involved in a few self-advocacy groups, including Self-Advocate Aces, and Believers of Self-Advocacy. Through his volunteering he has been able to travel to Anchorage, Alaska; Southern Orange County, California; Oklahoma; Missouri and places in between, plus he travels all over the state of Minnesota helping self-advocacy groups across the state get started and grow, and doing leadership training.
One last area he is involved with is the state legislature. So if you are looking for someone to help with self-advocacy training, information about the legislature, starting a self-advocacy group or anything connected to self-advocacy, Melvin is your man!
Alyssa is a recent high school graduate, who has spina bifida. She is a two-time winner of the Pageant of Hope, a beauty pageant for girls with disabilities and volunteers at Mercy Hospital. In her role, Alyssa supports youth participation in community activities, providing individualized mentoring and assistance, with an emphasis on virtual coaching.
Aaron is a musician and radio show engineer with KFAI Radio and “Democracy NOW!” and has participated in a leadership program called Partners in Policymaking. He has been active as a national leader, as well. He demonstrates that you can be nonverbal and work in radio, and do anything you wish in life. In his role, Aaron supports youth participation in community activities, providing individualized mentoring and assistance, with an emphasis on in-person meetings.
Youth Advisory Council:
Brian has a passion for uplifting and motivating others, and serves on the youth board at the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH). He uses his experience with Asperger’s as a gift to empower youth. He would like to go to college and become a teacher one day. In his free time, he enjoys writing, performing, and producing rap music, as well as motivational speaking.
Kim has a passion for world history, cultural awareness, and community activism. She would like to go to college and become a special education teacher. She has autism, and thinks that people should not be labeled or excluded on the basis of disability. She enjoys volunteering in her community and making a difference. She loves opera and is a fan of Andrea Bocelli.
Imani has cerebral palsy and is a freshman in high school. She is the teen cohost for a show called Disability Viewpoints, which is a community access forum for disability issues and topics. She has participating in adapted softball, her school play, a school service learning club, church service activities since middle school, and went on a mission trip in June 2013 to West Virginia to work with children and do house painting, and raised funds to pay for it. She went on another mission trip in June 2014, to a farm that donates all of its crop to a food shelf. She is starting college full-time in fall 2014, during her junior year of high school, as a post-secondary enrollment options (PSEO) student; this is a program that allows high schools students the opportunity to earn college credit during high school.
Elle Olson – lead peer mentor
Viv Henry – social media, photography, video
Debra Mikkola – human resources
Anna Hinkle – volunteer coordination
Nick Frandsen – youth technical advisor
Tori Peterson – development
Roberta Blomster – public policy
Jeanette Eastman – general
Lance Hegland – program development
Kurt Rutzen – general
Tisha Sherdan – career counseling
Andy Edgar – arts
Jay Wilson – resources
Ron P. Wacks – general
Joseph Dillard – finance
Luke Siljander – mentoring and fundraising
Crissa Knott – career
Sontiana Leigh Brandts