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Friend of MTAM Award Recipients

Penny Wheeler, MD

Penny Wheeler, MD 2021 Friend of MTAM Award Recipient
Nominated by Jessica De Villers and Peter Meyer

Penny Wheeler, MD, is Chief Executive Officer of Allina Health, with responsibilities for setting the overall strategic direction for Allina Health, focusing on ensuring that the organization delivers exceptional care and supporting the health and well-being of all those served.

Under Dr. Wheeler’s leadership, Allina Health has sharpened its focus on serving those who have not always been well-served by the health care system, including individuals with disabilities through the creation of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute; those with mental illness and addiction issues through significant investments in Allina Health’s mental health capabilities, and those facing disparities through community-based efforts focused on addressing systemic inequities in care.

Dr. Wheeler serves on the board of Portico Healthnet, an organization dedicated to helping uninsured Minnesotans receive affordable health coverage and care, St. Thomas University, the University of Minnesota Foundation, and is the Chair of the American Hospital Association’s System Council. In addition, she was recently named to the Board of Cedar, an organization that eases the strain of financial billing for those served.

Modern Healthcare recognized Dr. Wheeler as one of the top 25 women in health care. In addition, she received an award as one of the 100 most influential people in health care and was recognized as one of the 50 most influential clinical executives.
Prior to her appointment as CEO in 2015, Dr. Wheeler served as President and Chief Clinical Officer of Allina Health, responsible for leading the organization’s quality and value agenda through alignment of the clinical and operational leadership to optimally benefit those served by Allina Health. A board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Wheeler served patients at Women’s Health Consultants in Minneapolis, was the president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s medical staff, chaired the Allina Health Quality Committee and served on the Allina Health Board of Directors.

Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate of medicine degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Under Dr. Wheeler’s leadership, Allina Health has sharpened its focus on serving those who have not always been well-served by the health care system. In an article for Health Leaders, Dr. Wheeler stated, “One of the things that I always say about leadership is that you just can never, ever forget who you serve and why.” This is illustrated in the following example which occurred about two years ago. Dr. Wheeler was in a parking ramp and was approached by a gentleman who works in environmental services at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. After a brief exchange, Dr. Wheeler asked about his favorite part of working at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. He stated participating in music therapy groups and he invited her to attend. Dr. Wheeler did and she participated in the group as well. Following group she took the time to introduce and get know both staff and patients. Pre-COVID, Dr. Wheeler has been an advocate for expanding music therapy services into the community. Additionally, Dr. Wheeler attended the AMTA national conference when it was in MN. We feel Dr. Wheeler has been an advocate for the music therapists throughout Allina Health and consequently throughout MN.

Inducted Spring 2017 —

Patricia Connors
From Nomination Letter
“Patricia Connors has worked in collaboration with Dr. Kagin at Augsburg to establish a consistent route for students at St. Kate’s to pursue majors in Music Therapy through the ACTC program. As a result of her dedication to helping her students succeed, students at St. Kate’s are able to more easily navigate between St. Kate’s and Augsburg in order to study music therapy. In addition to the support she has given students desiring degrees in music therapy, Dr. Connors has risen as an advocate to the profession of music therapy….Dr. Connors is a voice in the field of music education that recognizes and respects the expertise of Music Therapists and who is aware of and willing to advocate for our field as she is able.”

Inducted October 2016 —

Doug Schmitt of Schmitt Music
From Nomination letter
“For four generations, the Schmitt Family has been very influential in Minnesota. Doug Schmitt is the great-grandson of Paul A Schmitt, the first President of Schmitt Music Co. in 1958, there was a national Rotary conference in Minneapolis that featured founders in the field of music therapy (see program that includes Dr. E. Thayer Gaston). Schmitt Music offered to house our national office in Minneapolis at the time, but because of Dr. Gaston’s prominence at the University of Kansas, the home office was located in Lawrence, Kansas. Margaret Schmitt, Doug’s Grandmother, was a contempoary of Mrs. Louise Whitbeck Fraser, who founded the Fraser School in Richfield, which was based on music for learning for children with special needs. Mrs. Schmitt was also a friend of Lucretia Rogers Schroeder, who used music and physical therapy at Gillette Children’s Hospital.

Doug Schmitt’s Grandfather gave a land grant to the Univ. of MN to start the first program in music therapy back in the 1960s (I believe, or maybe earlier). I was aware of this because I taught one of the first classes in music therapy at the U of M in 1973, before starting the music therapy program at Augsburg College in 1974. Music therapy at the U of M can be traced back to the Schmitt family. In 1975, Doug’s grandfather, Robert Schmitt, was at the head table with me when we hosted the GLR conference in Minneapolis. I was the President of the GLR at the time, and the local program chair for the conference. Garrison Keillor was our keynote speaker.

Doug’s Grandfather started music therapy at Courage Center in Golden Valley, with a 3 year grant to provide seed money to hire a music therapist. Doug and his late father, Bob Schmitt, have been generous in supporting students at Augsburg College with scholarship money. It is because of Doug Schmitt that we have a Music Plaza in front of the music building at Augsburg. He also raised money through his Rotary Club for the Music Playground at Jackson Park outside of Edison High School, with a research project through the U of M.

Doug Schmitt has been present for many music therapy events in Minnesota, including the 40th anniversary celebration of music therapy at Augsburg in 2014. He also attended the GLR conference when it was held in Minneapolis recently. He frequently tells people about the history of music therapy in Minnesota, and helps to facilitate contacts. On Sept. 25 (Sunday) I attended the 75th gala celebration of the Minnesota Music Teachers, and Doug Schmitt and his wife Ellen were there, and Doug introduced the music teachers to me, and was making the connections between music therapists and music teachers. As a fourth generation executive of the Schmitt Music Co., Doug Schmitt is very worthy of this award. ”

Inducted May 2015 —

Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr. – Rep. Carlson of district 45A has been a supporter of music therapy licensure since our first steps in the journey in 2012 and has co-authored several of our bills. As a retired teacher, he knows the value of supporting kids in Minnesota.

Rep. Laurie Halverson – District 51B legislator, Rep. Halverson serves on the Health and Human Services Finance committee and signed on as a co-author for our HF849 (2013-2014) and HF2366 (2015) to grant licensure for music therapist in the state of MN.

Rep. Ben Lien – Rep. Lien of district 4A has been an support of music therapy licensure bill HF849 (2013-2014) and HF2366 (2015) as a co-author. He sits on the committee for High Education Policy and Finance.

Rep. Yvonne Selcer – Rep. Selcer served district 48A and supported music therapy licensure as a co-author on HF849 (2013-2014) and HF2366 (2015).

Rep. Jennifer Schultz – Rep. Schultz of district 7A authored bill HF2366 in 2015 and spoke up for music therapy licensure. She serves on the Health and Human Services Reform committee.

Sen. John Hoffman – Sen. Hoffmann, district 36, led the charge to add music therapists to the teachers bargaining unit in Minnesota which was signed into law on May 16, 2015 as well as authored SF2197 for licensure for music therapists in Minnesota. He is a strong advocate for our work!

Inducted May 2013

Sen. Julie Rosen
Sen. Julie Rosen represents Minnesota district 23 and authored SF404, a bill in -2013 for licensure for music therapists in our state. She was instrumental in getting hearings for the bill in the Senate Health and Human Services committee and helping our task force navigate through the legislative system. Her advocacy for not only music therapy but also care for our seniors is greatly appreciated by the Minnesota music therapy community.

Mickey Hart
Mickey is percussionist of the Mickey Hart Band and former drummer of The Grateful Dead. He is an advocate of music therapy and attended the AMTA national conference in Atlanta in 2011.