Jodi Sandfort Receives Gary C. Cornia Lecturer Award

PROVO, Utah – Dec 19, 2019 – Jodi Sandfort, professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, exemplified gratitude and humility as she accepted the Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series award on 5 December 2019 for her innovative leadership in the field of social policy implementation and public administration.

The Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series Award is given yearly by the BYU Marriott School of Business’ Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics to someone who exemplifies the legacy of the former BYU Marriott dean Gary C. Cornia by being active not only in research and teaching but in citizenship as well. “We are looking for people who are changemakers,” says Lori Wadsworth, director of the Romney Institute, who presented the award. “We are looking for people who are making a significant impact through their research and across the public service field and Jodi is doing just that.”

Dr. Sandfort is a Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, where she is the founder and Academic Director of the Future Services Institute. She has focused her career on working with families and thinking about how public services can support them as a whole. “Parents and children should be treated and helped together, as part of their families and communities,” she says.

“The work the Future Services Institute does is about making changes to help organizations and institutions work better for the world,” Sandfort continues. “We need to look at social programs and make sure they are taking their experiences and crafting interventions that matter.”

A key part of Sandfort’s work focuses on taking data and using it to redesign social policy. “Everything—phones, televisions, even ketchup bottles—has been redesigned in the last thirty years,” she says. “But we haven’t done enough redesign work in public institutions, and the citizenry wants something more from us.”

She hopes her work will encourage public institutions to use empathy in policy creation and implementation and using prototyping as well as structured experiments to make police changes more successful. Sandfort even co-wrote a book about this process, Effective Implementation in Practice, with Stephanie Moulton of The Ohio State University, and is currently working on another book about public organization and services redesign.

Her Future Services Institute focuses on implementing value- and empathy-centric approaches to institutional redesign in Minnesota’s public programs. In addition to being this year’s Cornia Lecture award recipient, Sandfort holds the honor of being an elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration and will be representing the United States as a Fulbright Fellow in Denmark starting in 2020.

Currently residing in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their two sons, Sandfort enjoys gardening, rollerblading, and pottery, and is eager to work with BYU Marriott’s Romney Institute again in August 2020 on the Redesign for Whole Families Summit, which focuses on gathering policymakers and program leaders together to learn how to best serve families in need.  

Jodi Sandfort Smiles. She is wearing a blue shirt and her short hair is brushed back behind her ears.
Jodi Sandfort
Two women hold a photo of delicate arch
Jodi Sandfort (left), was given a framed photo of Delicate Arch as a token of appreciation by Lori Wadsworth (right). Photo courtesy of Vicki Okerlund
A group of six women, Jodi Sandfort center, and one man smile for a photo.
Jodi Sandfort poses with BYU Marriott MPA students interested in pursuing doctorate degrees in the field. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Okerlund)

Writer: Anne Wallace