The “Tip of the Spear” describes the first to rise to the challenge, take meaningful action and persist in accomplishing the objective. MOHR’s 2020 Tip of the Spear Award goes to the organization’s president, Julie Johnson.
Serving as MOHR’s president for the last two years, little could she have known what COVID-19 would bring to an industry that was already facing substantial challenges. Service suspensions and ongoing constraints have placed immense financial challenges on MOHR members.
“Julie’s advocacy efforts on behalf of all disability service providers throughout the state have been nothing short of heroic,” her nomination stated. Interviewing with local media, writing countless letters to legislators, the governor and the Department of Human Services as well as the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Johnson fought for emergency grant funding to maintain the disability service infrastructure during the pandemic.
She was praised for her tenacity, dedication, compassion and strong leadership.
Robin Harkonen, director of East Range DAC and a Tip of the Spear judge, said Johnson is amazing in everything she does. “When asked- Is this a good time? – she always says yes. She is always available.”
Johnson said MOHR’s work is a group effort to keep up with member questions and requests, and that she thrives on being busy. “We have a core group of volunteers who work very hard to do that work,” she said. “It could not be done by one person, for sure. You couldn’t do it. This year, there’s no way we could have done it.”
She said MOHR members are unique, so she listens and takes everyone’s perspective into account. “That makes us all better,” she said. Each member has ways of providing services that others can learn from. There’s a need to maintain relationships to better support members.
“Minnesota does a good job of supporting, understanding and including people with disabilities,” said Johnson. “And valuing their contributions.” While financial challenges are always there, her tendency is to stay hopeful. “You have to continue to drive toward the end result you’re looking for.”