Feb 5, 2020
The past six years have been a welcomed whirlwind for Sheila Ritter.
She began working for Rise as an intern in 2014. And after three job promotions, Sheila is now the program manager for Minnesota Employment Center (MEC) where she leads the one-of-a-kind program serving people who are Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard-of-Hearing throughout the state of Minnesota.
“I’m so fortunate to have been placed with MEC for my internship,” says Sheila. “Rise is an awesome employer, and landing here has positively impacted the course of my life and career.”
MEC provides comprehensive employment and job placement services which enable people to achieve their goals, increase their self-sufficiency, and lead self-determined lives in the community. The program began in 1993 serving the Twin Cities metro and expanded to outstate Minnesota in 2016 with the addition of four offices in Duluth, Faribault, Moorhead, and St. Cloud. The program is offered in collaboration with Rise, Lifetrack, Minnesota Rehabilitation Services, and VECTOR/School District 287. In 2019, MEC served 204 people in the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing communities.
Sheila led the charge for the expansion to greater Minnesota with courage and passion. She was instrumental in getting MEC established in each community by setting up all of the offices and hiring staff. Additionally, she built relationships in each area critical to creating supports and executing the MEC mission.
“It was challenging at times, but good,” adds Sheila. “Our program is the only one like it in the nation, and we’re now offering it throughout Minnesota, which is exciting!”
As each office has become more settled, Sheila finds herself on the road less than she once was. Her main responsibilities include supervising 13 MEC team members, managing program referrals, community relations on behalf of the program, and more.
Sheila’s path to MEC program manager began when she took a night class in American Sign Language (ASL) as a college student several years ago.
“I originally went to college to be a speech pathologist. It wasn’t a fit, so I took the ASL class. And that’s when I thought, ‘This is it. This is what I should do.’ It just clicked. I knew I wanted to work within the Deaf community.”
When asked about Rise, Sheila says she has had a great experience.
“Everyone is supportive. My ideas and thoughts are heard and my input is valued. It starts with the top down; the leadership is outstanding. We wouldn’t have been able to spread these services without their support.”
Away from MEC, Sheila loves to travel. Her favorite trip thus far has been to beautiful Portugal.
Thank you, Sheila, for serving the Deaf community with such passion!
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