Ann and Brad, 2022.

Our DSP this week is Ann, sometimes called Annie at work. As one of our longest-term employees—clocking in at 46 years as of October 24—it is safe to say she is an expert at what she does. For reference as to just how amazing her tenure is, Living Well opened in 1972 and we celebrated our 50th anniversary last year. It is hard to believe the organization has been in business just four years longer than Ann has been employed here.

Ann and Brad back when she first started and they were 17 and 13!

Ann first started as a volunteer at the tender age of 13. Technically, her mom was the volunteer and she tagged along, but that is what got her interested in our mission and being of service to others. Ann tried a few other jobs along the way, but in her senior year of high school she started working at Dakota’s Children (the original name of the company), and the rest is history.

Program Manager, Adolphus Kesseh, started working for Living Well in 1996 and started as a float which gave him the advantage of working in several locations and with different staff. He transitioned to the Upper 55th house about nine years ago, which gave him the opportunity to work with Ann on an extensive basis. Adolphus says, “I have yet to meet someone as hardworking as she is. She is not just hard working but cares about the individuals we serve. She is a system driven work horse. With the multiple hats she wears every day, I can’t imagine her drive to work every morning. I trust her and cannot not wait to present her with questions I have or a suggestions I want her input on. Ann has managed the morning shift like a well-oiled machine. Working on the schedule, setting up and attending medical appointments, ordering groceries, supplies, and running the Upper 55th barber shop are a few of the gifts in her repertoire.”

The Dream Team … Ann and Adolphus at our Employee Recognition party!

Adolphus points out that Ann has exceptional relationships with all the families, which makes for easy communication. Family members often rely on input for decisions concerning the individuals at the house, and Ann is very approachable and willing to talk about anything and everything with them. Michael Kast, Sr. is one of those family members. He says, “Thank you Ann for being a mentor and an inspiration to everyone around you. Me and my son are better because of your personality. You make us shine!” Rod Carlson, COO, agrees with Adolphus and Michael, saying, “Ann has always prioritized relationships with the people served, families and staff. And she always displays true compassion for others. You can teach work skills, but it is impossible to teach what Ann has, and what she has brought to work with her for 40 plus years.”

Ann is a valuable piece of the Upper 55th puzzle and when she is on vacation, her absence is felt deeply. Adolphus says with deep gratitude, “I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to Ann for always having my back. We remain indebted to you for your invaluable service. Thank you!”

Congrats, Ann, we are grateful for your many decades of service, kindness, and dedication. Thank you for all you do, we appreciate you!





Number of years/months with Living Well: 46 years

Hobbies/Interests: I like hiking, kayaking, fishing, and reading. I love hiking in state parks and enjoy detective novels—John Stanford novels are my favorites.

Education: I have an associate degree through St. Cloud.

Job Experience/History: I worked as a store clerk, a pharmacy assistant, and of course, in health services.

Favorite part of the job: My favorite parts of the work I do are making meaningful connections with people and advocating with professionals on their behalf.

Favorite or craziest work story: I once pulled off a great April Fool’s joke on Rod, involving a mouse, “hickory dickory dock, Rod.” He will get what this means.

What is your motivation for coming to work: The relationships with all people I have known and supported, their families, coworkers, and outside professionals.

What made you apply: When I was 13 my mom started volunteering at the original Marie Avenue location, and I would help her. Around 14 or 15 I started volunteering myself. And then when I was a senior in high school I applied and started working here.

What makes you stay: It’s the same as my motivation—the people. I have great relationships with everyone. Some families are around often, and we have become close over the years.

What would you tell people interested in joining the team: For me, I would say that the relationships formed and the work we do here keeps me grounded in what is important in life.

Do you volunteer in your community or school: I sometimes volunteer for therapeutic horseback riding sessions. For safety purposes two volunteers are needed to walk by the side of the horse and rider, and I sign up to do that.



Want to nominate a DSP? Please email to nominate a Living Well DSP. Special thanks to Miles and Cheri Cohen for their support of DSP of Week. Want to join them in underwriting our DSP Shoutout Program? Please contact Devan Heinsen for sponsorship opportunities.