ACT is a member driven grass roots organization. We are focused on bringing groups or individuals together around the common goal of self-advocacy. ACT’s board serves two year terms and plays a critical role in keeping ACT self-advocate focused. Click to view Board Members here

ACT’s Staff

Mary Kay Kennedy
, Executive Director 651-641-0297 ext 11

Mary Kay joined ACT as director in 1987. Since that time, she has built ACT into a nationally respected figure in the self-advocacy movement. Under Kennedy’s leadership, ACT has built the state’s first and only organized structure for self-advocacy, Self-Advocates Minnesota (SAM) as well as:

– Trained hundreMary Kay - peopleds of self-advocates leaders to know and work for their rights through ACT’s various programs, including the ACT Olmstead Academy, a 12-month program building disability leadership through hands-on integration projects.

– Led a coalition of groups to restore state hospital cemeteries, marking over 9000 graves through its Remembering with Dignity program,

– Launched the innovative Disability Equality Training Series (DETS), a self-led curriculum of 12-session courses that give self-advocacy groups the tools for building a culture of disability equality. 

Mary Kay’s ability to see the big picture is the engine that powers ACT forward. Her equally great ability to lead participatory workshops that build self-advocate leaders is the secret of ACT’s success.

Patrick Mitchell, Agency Coordinator 651-641-0297

Patrick has a Bachelors degree in political science from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He came to ACT in 2014, after serving two terms with AmeriCorps VISTA. As agency coordinator, Patrick has a hand in most of ACT’s programs, and supports board members and other self-advocates to help lead those programs. Patrick works alongside self-advocate leaders to organize ACT’s statewide conference, manage ACT’s Disability Power program and the SAM networks metro region. 


ACT’s Consultants

bretBret Hesla,
Program Consultant / New Product Development 651-641-0297

Bret’s consulting work with ACT began as a music leader in ACT’s Common vision program, leading singing and songwriting as part of the work to build leaders for disability rights.  He continues that work in various programs, including the new Side by Side People’s Chorus. Bret also works to create and publish ACT’s training resources, currently being reorganized into a broad training curriculum for self-advocacy.



mary - peopleMary Fenske, Program Consultant 651-641-0297

Mary first connected with ACT as a field organizer for the SAM network. When she retired from that and other great things, ACT was able to lure her into the office to help organize many of its programs. Mary’s skill at relationship building, her endless contact list, and her mastery of detail and her people-person style make her the perfect liaison between ACT and all sorts of program participants.