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Julie Sjordal's 35th Anniversary


This year, we are honoring our CEO, fearless leader, and tireless champion, Julie Sjordal, for her lifetime of dedicated service to St. David’s Center – an astounding 35 years! 

Julie was in her mid-20s when she left a career in teaching – with growing understanding that her interests and passion were in what she describes today as “family work.” She saw an opportunity to serve as one of St. David’s Center’s first in-home support staff for families of children with special needs and knew that was how she wanted to make a difference in the world.  

Being present for, truly loving, and caring for people with disabilities was nothing new for Julie; her younger sister Angie has Down Syndrome. Their family found the support they needed in the early 1970s when they enrolled Angie in St. David’s Preschool, a small early learning center with a big mission to be alongside families of children of all abilities at a time when people with special needs were still institutionalized. Julie’s mom, Betty, even taught at St. David’s School in those years, as Angie started school and she realized she could give back to the place that meant so much to her and her family.  

In 1988, when Julie came to work for St. David’s, the organization was on the edge of a remarkable period of growth. With the entrepreneurial leadership of then Executive Director Eric Stevens, county contracts were put in place that established one of the first therapeutic preschool programs for children at high risk for abuse and neglect and some of our community’s earliest in-home support services for significantly distressed families of children with disabilities. Our preschool and pediatric therapies were growing as well.  

It wasn’t long before Julie caught Eric’s attention. Her leadership, her own entrepreneurial mindset, her ability to make thoughtful decisions quickly, her compassion for children and families, her relationships with colleagues – these were all gifts he saw in those early years of her service.  By the mid-90s, Julie and her husband Dan established their own family, adopting Luke first and then Ellie.  As those years passed, Julie was offered the right set of opportunities for her to continue to learn and grow in roles that challenged her and yet made it possible to right-size work around her parenting. As their children reached elementary and middle school, Julie took on more leadership responsibility, ultimately growing into the Director of Prevention and Early Intervention Services and then Managing Director of Programs.  

Julie continued to say yes to the next opportunity. She learned from, led, and invested in some of our best talent, she developed programs and services that met emerging needs in children and families, she gained the trust of community leaders, she built partnerships that have stood the test of time, and she continued to look to the horizon to see what was next for what she’s always called “this treasured community asset.”  

In fall 2009, Julie accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer. In the past 14 years, Julie has engaged dozens of board members, led thousands of staff members, built three visionary strategic plans, led through the renovation and expansion of our 60,000-square-foot campus in Minnetonka, served on Governor Pawlenty’s Early Learning Council, pursued a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a one-of-a-kind early intervention center downtown in partnership with Westminster Presbyterian Church, raised $38.4 million to lift the organization to the next level, built dozens of partnerships with schools, nonprofits, childcare centers, healthcare networks, advocacy groups, and community leaders, not only survived but thrived on the heels of a pandemic, and so much more – always diligently and passionately advocating for children, families, and individuals with enduring needs.  

Congratulations to you, Julie Sjordal, for 35 years of service!  We are incredibly grateful that you chose St. David’s Center in 1988 and incredibly fortunate you’ve continued to choose St. David’s Center each and every day since.  Thank you for bringing your whole authentic self to work each day, thank you for your vision, your drive, and your belief in what’s possible, and thank you for your profound and lasting commitment to the people we serve and the staff who serve them.

Please consider making a gift to honor this milestone of Julie’s amazing tenure, ensuring the important work of St. David’s Center continues.

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