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In Memory of Betty Hansen



The St. David’s Center community lost a dear friend and longtime champion on February 24, and our CEO and beloved leader, Julie Sjordal, lost her biggest fan. Her mother, Betty Hansen, passed away surrounded by her loved ones, after living a life dedicated to her family, her faith, and her favorite nonprofit.

With the birth of Betty and Roy’s daughter, Angie, the last of six children, they came to realize their path as a family would broaden and wind in new ways, leading them to the front door of St. David’s School in 1971—one of the only places in the Twin Cities a preschool child with special needs and her family would feel welcome. Their sense of what Angie needed and what could be possible for her with the right beginning made them pioneers in our eyes.

Several years later, with Angie then in elementary school, Betty was hired as a teacher at St. David’s School. Her love for the mission of (what would become) St. David’s Center only grew, as did her relationships across the organization. Remembering her loving presence with children, one former colleague shared, “She would gather the children in her class like a hen gathers her chicks, some sitting on her lap or leaning against her, others lounging on the floor, and then she’d read them a story. Such a sweet lady. I so admired her.”

She taught for 15 years before Julie was hired as a home visitor in a brand new program launched in 1988. Thirty-three years later, the organization she believed in as Angie’s mom, committed to as a teacher, and supported so generously, has grown beyond what she ever imagined.

Betty’s handprint is visible in Julie every day: her steadiness, her clarity, her resilience and strength, her playfulness, her deep devotion to family, her respect for those who give their lives and their careers to make a difference, and her abiding love for people with unique needs. For that, on behalf of our board, nearly 500 employees, and tens of thousands of children and families who’ve benefited, we are profoundly grateful.

Please consider making a gift in her memory, a gift that honors her life’s work as a mother, a dreamer, a teacher, and Julie’s biggest fan.

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