Jodi Sandfort is professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and chair of the school's Leadership & Management Area. Her work focuses on improving the implementation of social policy, particularly those policies designed to support low-income children and their families.
Sandfort is a Family Self-Sufficiency Scholar funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is the founder and academic director of the Future Services Institute, an applied research and training center focused on public service redesign in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, county government, nonprofit service providers, and private foundations. For six years she directed the human services program at the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, where she managed a portfolio of $20 million in annual giving. She is also the academic director of the Hubert Project, a global initiative promoting interactive teaching and learning through use of multimedia learning materials.
She recently completed a book Effective Implementation in Practice: Integrating Public Policy and Management (Jossey-Bass, 2015) with Stephanie Moulton (The Ohio State University). Her current research and practice projects include: the Learning Network, a capacity-building project in the Minnesota Department of Human Services, tribal governments, and counties; program evaluations of innovative integrative service projects; and peer learning as a strategy for workforce development services capacity building. This work is laying the foundation for a more robust approach to government-funded technical assistance.
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. She is currently on the editorial boards of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, American Review of Public Administration, and the Journal of Public Affairs Education. 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. She also has explored civic engagement processes, specifically the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter, and has edited an e-book with others about how this work influenced all types of operations at the University of Minnesota.
Sandfort also was a senior fellow at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits where she developed and implemented their statewide 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, DC, and as an assistant professor of public administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She worked as a consultant with national and statewide 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, Wisconsin, Sandfort lives with her husband and two sons in St. Paul, Minnesota where she gardens, rollerblades, and throws pottery.