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DHS leaders honored for new service design incentives that enhance quality of life for people with disabilities

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) recognized Marie Zimmerman and Alex Bartolic of the Minnesota Department of Human Services with the 2018 Movement of Hope Vision Award at a dinner gathering with the organization’s Board of Directors in March.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has presented the award annually, since 2007, to community leaders with exceptional public leadership that have brought to life the LSS vision that all people have the opportunity to live and work in community with full and abundant lives.   

Three years ago, Marie Zimmerman, State Medicaid Director, and Alex Bartolic, Minnesota Department of Human Services Director of Disability Services, teamed up to create incentives to integrate healthcare and social services in ways that enhance lives for people with disabilities. The incentive plan they developed now plays a key role in the success of the Altair Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in Minnesota, made up of nine social service providers including Lutheran Social Service and one health care provider.


Through the Altair ACO, a life-planning tool shared by providers integrates decisions around housing, employment, wellness and community health services that promote quality of life for people with disabilities. These providers have used their life-planning tool to support people with disabilities to live in integrated settings in the community and to work in jobs in the mainstream economy. 

“What these two leaders helped us create is an innovative, nation-leading model that is now being implemented across Minnesota,” explained Jodi Harpstead, CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “We applaud them both for their unrelenting dedication to improving the lives of people with disabilities. I am pleased to honor each of them with this award.”

Statewide, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota supports over 2,000 people with disabilities through a variety of services they choose to shape their quality of life and empower them to live the life they imagine for themselves. Services include individualized plans, care coordination, housing options, employment support and fiscal services for individuals with self-directed care plans.  

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,300 employees and 8,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service helps one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community. Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, visit