The Brain Injury Association of Minnesota Board of Directors voted unanimously to name Ardis Sandstrom, MS, LICSW, CRC, as its new Executive Director, ending an extensive national search. She succeeds Thomas C. Gode who previously held the position for eleven years. Sandstrom is the third executive director in the Association’s 21 year history.
“It’s an exceptional privilege to have someone with the hands-on experience and personal knowledge of our organization. She’s prepared to step in with an immediate understanding of how we operate,” said Russ Philstrom, board chair. The Association has seen an explosion of growth in the past three years and the board expressed a desire for continuity in leadership to assure the organ-ization’s continued success.
For the past seven years, Sandstrom served as Associate Director or deputy to the Executive Director. In that role, she developed several programs that have served as national models for success in the traumatic brain injury (TBI) field including Resource Facilitation and Multicultural Outreach. She also introduced two fee-for-service programs, the Education Department and waiver Case Management. Previous to her tenure at the Association she served as Director of Residential Programs at Mary T. Inc, Program Supervisor at Courage Center, and Program Coordinator for Direct Connections TBI program in St. Cloud. Sandstrom was recently appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to the Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council. She has spoken nationally on topics related to brain injury.
A passionate advocate for disability services, Sandstrom knows first hand what life is like for persons with disabilities. An injury as a small child severed part of all her fingers on both hands. “In the grand scheme of things, the challenges I face with my disability are fairly small. But some of the stories I could share about how I was treated growing up are pretty horrific. What I experienced opened my eyes, not only to the need for systemic change, but the critical need for community awareness and understanding. From the time I was very young, I knew I would have to do something to impact change,” she said.
Celebrating over 20 years of service, The Brain Injury Association of Minnesota is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the 94,000 Minnesotans who live with brain injury, their loved ones, and the professionals who work with them. The mission of the Association is to enhance the quality of life and bring the promise of a better tomorrow for all people affected by brain injury. For more information about The Brain Injury Association, call 1-800-669-6442, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Web site: www.braininjurymn.org.