Jodi Sandfort is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota and Chair of the school's Leadership & Management Area. She also is the academic director of the international collection of Public Affairs multi-media teaching tools, the Hubert project, focused on promoting interactive teaching and learning. Her own research, teaching, and practice focus on improving the implementation of social policy, particularly those policies designed to support low-income children and their families. As a result, she works with and studies the leaders, organizations, and networks of public, private, and philanthropic organizations that develop and deliver social programs. Jodi received her PhD from a multi-disciplinary program (University of Michigan, Political Science and Social Work) and has taken time away from the academy to build skills as a practitioner and develop firsthand knowledge of how foundations and other nonprofits operate.
Her current research and practice projects include: the Results Initiative, a project done in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and focused on improving the effectiveness of the state’s welfare system, analysis of citizen participation community engagement practices, and the role technology is playing in professional education. She recently completed a book Effective Implementation in Practice: Integrating Public Policy and Management (Jossey-Bass, 2015) with Stephanie Moulton (The Ohio State University).
Sandfort is the author of numerous academic articles, book chapters, and reports for policymakers and practitioners about nonprofit management, social welfare system design, organizational effectiveness, early childhood education, welfare reform, and research methodology. Her dissertation was an in-depth examination of how front-line organizations in Michigan's welfare system implemented public policy. This study was followed by research on about local implementation of welfare reform and, in another study, early childhood programs blending childcare, Head Start, and state-sponsored preschool programs. She also conducted research on two networks of human service organizations providing safety net programs to low-income Minnesotans.
Sandfort came to the School from the McKnight Foundation, where, as the Director of the Children & Families program, she managed a portfolio of $20 million in annual giving directed to Minnesota’s human service fields. For a number of years, she also was a Senior Fellow at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits where she developed and implemented their state-wide Leadership Institute, and Senior Program Consultant at the Bush Foundation where she developed the InCommons project. Jodi also worked as a case manager for the AIDS Care Connection in Detroit, as a program assistant at the Children's Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., and as an assistant professor of public administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She worked as a consultant with national and state-wide foundations, think-tanks, and other nonprofit human service organizations. She has provided leadership coaching, executive development, and organizational development services to nonprofit, philanthropic, and public organizations. She also has accepted academic appointments solely in professional schools because they are promising sites for scholar-practitioner dialogue.
Originally from Menomonie, WI, Sandfort lives with her husband and two sons in St. Paul, Minnesota where she gardens, rollerblades, and throws pottery.