Wed Sep 14 2016
Cliff Poetz inside the Minnesota State Capitol.

Access Press, Minnesota’s disability news source, has named ICI’s Cliff Poetz as the Charlie Smith Award recipient for 2016. He will be the guest of honor at the awards banquet on November 4, when the award will be presented to him. “I’m humbled and grateful for the award,” says Poetz, who knew Smith (see below). Poetz is the second ICI staff member to receive this award; John Smith was the recipient in 2006. This event is open to the public.

A tireless self-advocate and organizer, Poetz serves on boards and committees and advocates with public officials at all levels, in addition to his duties as a community liaison at ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living. Since the early 1970s, he has spent his adult life advocating for disability rights. “My biggest accomplishment has been bringing other self-advocates to the state capitol; our presence has changed legislators’ minds,” Poetz says. But he does not want them to stop there. “There is a need for community engagement, like bringing legislators out to group homes during the summer when they have time to really listen and aren’t under the pressure of budget negotiations,” he says.

To learn more about Poetz’s personal story in his own words, read his 2014 Impact interview PDF and view video clips of Poetz talking about the Americans with Disabilities Act on ICI’s Self-Advocacy Online project.

The Charlie Smith Award is named in honor of the late Charlie Smith, founding editor of Access Press. This annual awards ceremony has been held since 2003, offering an opportunity to bring together many individuals and organizations to celebrate accomplishments within Minnesota’s disability community, as well as an opportunity to discuss the community’s future goals and needs.