As most of you receiving this message know, Minnesota’s HMIS is in a period of rapid change. Since the release of a system assessment report and subsequent multi-stakeholder visioning session in early 2014, we have implemented a major database restructure and radically changed the oversight structure, with more changes yet to come. All of this change is building toward a “new and improved” approach to HMIS that is more responsive to informational needs at all levels. All of these changes are good.
Another change, not so good, is that Wilder Research is losing a long-time key leader on the HMIS staff. Since the start of Minnesota’s HMIS, Laura McLain has been a critical part of the HMIS team, mostly in the role of HMIS Project Manager. In her tenure, the system has grown from nothing to one that now includes over 200 service-providing organizations and 700 end-users throughout the state. Since HMIS is a federal requirement tied to the $20+ million in HUD homeless assistance funds that MN receives each year, it is not an exaggeration to say that Laura’s work over the past 12 years has helped to secure around one-quarter billion dollars; dollars that have been essential in helping to serve tens of thousands of our neighbors who are most in need.
Over her time on the project, it is safe to say that Laura has become the single most knowledgeable person about HMIS in Minnesota. Laura has touched virtually every aspect of Minnesota’s HMIS. From the nuances of the technology, to the state and federal reporting requirements, to the many personalities involved with the system at many levels – Laura knows it all. And throughout her tenure she has been tenacious in her efforts to make sure that HMIS meets all of the requirements essential to run a solid project. It is VERY difficult for us to see her move on.
Our loss, however, is the state’s gain. Laura is leaving Wilder Research for a position with the Minnesota Department of Health. Her last day of regular, full-time employment with us will be June 12th. Fortunately, she is willing to help out afterwards in a temporary, consulting role to help smooth the transition. Please join us in wishing Laura well in her new position, and thanking her for her great work on HMIS.
-Craig Helmstetter, Colleen O’Brien, and the HMIS Team at Wilder
P.S. Laura leaves big shoes to fill! We will soon be circulating a job ad, and asking for your help in sending good candidates our way.