FYI, the Institute on Community Integration Staff Newsletter

September 2014

ICI Fall Kickoff on October 9:
The Sky’s The Limit”

“The Sky’s The Limit” is the theme of the 2014 Institute on Community Integration (ICI) Fall Kickoff, which will be held on Thursday, October 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University’s McNamara Alumni Center. Mark Olson will emcee the event. “The Kickoff is an important way for all of us to spend some time together getting to know colleagues we don’t necessarily work with on a daily basis, learn more about what’s going on across ICI, and enjoy fun and good food,” says ICI director David R. Johnson. “I’d encourage all ICI staff to set aside this time and plan to attend.”

This year’s Kickoff will be held in the A.I. Johnson Great Room at the McNamara Center, and will explore how emphasizing strengths – within individual employees and across the Institute – can further ICI’s mission of serving people with disabilities and their families. In the next few weeks, all ICI staff members will have an opportunity (if they haven’t already) to take the StrengthsFinder assessment and discover their top five strengths. By doing this, they will learn how “signature strengths” help them grow and stay engaged in their careers. Before the event, Joe Timmons will connect individually with ICI staff with instructions for accessing the assessment. Then, at the Kickoff, Jeff Stafford from Orange Slice Training, will deliver an engaging, interactive session to interpret results and talk about how teams maximize strengths. This supports the University’s goal to become “a strengths-based campus” (see

In addition, Kickoff speakers from various parts of the Institute will highlight the strengths of their particular areas. Susan O’Nell will describe how the College of Direct Support grew from an idea into one of the nation’s most successful training tools for Direct Support Professionals. The Check & Connect training team will explain how the Institute developed Check & Connect to help schools, school districts, and states promote student engagement, reduce dropout, and increase school completion. Brian Abery, Renáta Tichá, and two Minnesota high-schoolers will describe their recent trip to Central America where, as part of the ICI project known as the American Youth Leadership Program: Learning to Serve...Serving to Learn, they joined others from Costa Rica and Minnesota to design and implement seven inclusive service learning projects about climate change.

Other Kickoff details are still being finalized, but the agenda so far also includes:

  • Comments by ICI director David R. Johnson.

  • Poster presentations (see Amanda Ryan’s September 10 e-mail for submissions).

  • Fun activities.

  • Introduction of new staff.

  • Award presentations (see Anab Gulaid for information and recognitions).

  • Lunch catered by D’Amico’s.

E-mail invitations for the Kickoff will be sent out September 18. The ICI program area with the most attendees will win a pizza party.

The Kickoff Planning Committee includes Anab, Amanda, Connie Burkhart (chair), Melissa Critchley, Mai Vang, and Joe Timmons. FFI about the Kickoff, please contact Joe at or (612) 624-5659.