In Memory: Sandi Cutler

“Sandi Cutler -- a graceful leader whose vision and compassion drove lasting social change.”

“Sandi Cutler — a graceful leader whose vision and compassion drove lasting social change.”

Sandi Cutler, Solid Ground’s Chief Operating & Strategy Officer, died unexpectedly during the first week of July from natural causes. He leaves behind many loving family members, dozens of grieving colleagues and a lifelong legacy of social justice work. While not a publicly recognized figure, Sandi made significant contributions to the political life of our region, our nation’s health care system, and the stability and success of Solid Ground.

Sandi grew up in the Central Valley of California. His father was a school district administrator who worked to desegregate the public schools that employed him – which meant that he was often fired. So the family moved on, taking their active commitment to social justice to another community.

As a young man, Sandi was an effective political organizer. He was a major force in moving San José, California to change from at-large elections to City Council districts, which helped communities of color gain representation. He worked tirelessly to raise funds for candidates of color to ensure they maintained their political power.

Later in his career, Sandi became a nationally known leader in natural medicine and the public policy issues related to the integration of natural health sciences into health care. A brilliant strategic thinker and deeply knowledgeable planner, he helped turn Bastyr College into Bastyr University, one of the world’s preeminent natural health sciences institutions. He also guided the expansion of DeVry University’s medical school, turning it into the largest provider of new physicians into the U.S. Health Care system.

When Sandi came to Solid Ground in 2012, he brought more experience in developing and implementing strategies, operations management, organizational development and leadership than most people could gain in many lifetimes.

And still, he was at heart a gifted community organizer who believed that it was a successful day only if he had helped make the world a better place.

Gordon McHenry, Jr. with Sandi Cutler at Solid Ground's 2014 Stand Against Racism event

Gordon McHenry, Jr. with Sandi Cutler at Solid Ground’s 2014 Stand Against Racism event

“Sandi took great pride in his Italian heritage and a culture of living life to the fullest, characterized by love of family and community,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., President & CEO of Solid Ground. “He was always mindful of his white privilege and careful in his role in Solid Ground’s hierarchy.

“The opportunity to be employed with Solid Ground was both inspirational and motivating for Sandi. He felt honored to continue working on behalf of those suffering from oppression and poverty, as well as from the impacts of societal barriers to justice, equity and the opportunity to thrive.”

“Sandi will be remembered as a graceful leader whose vision and compassion drove lasting social change,” said Lauren McGowan, past President of Solid Ground’s Board of Directors.

“Sandi’s kind nature and compassion had an impact on everyone around him,” said Kira Zylstra, Stabilization Services Director. “He had a profound and genuine care for the community that we serve as well as the team of dedicated staff here at Solid Ground.”

Solid Ground extends its deepest support to Sandi’s family and friends. We know that for all the loss we feel, yours is deeper and even more profound.

And as we reflect on the incomprehensible fragility of life, we are reminded to be kind to one another, to find the beauty in each day and to make sure we express our love to those we cherish.

A public memorial service will be held Sunday, July 27 from 1–4pm at Bastyr University Chapel (14500 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore).

Advertisements

Solid Ground names new leadership team

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Gordon McHenry, Jr. has been named President & Chief Executive Officer. McHenry most recently served as the Executive Director of the Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based academic enrichment and leadership development agency. Rainier Scholars increases college graduation rates for low-income students of color by providing comprehensive support from 6th grade until college graduation.

Solid Ground also announces that Sandi Cutler has been named Chief Operations & Strategy Officer. Instrumental in the growth of Bastyr University and other agencies, Cutler brings significant strategic, operational and organizational development experience.

The hirings highlight a time of intentional introspection and change at the King County nonprofit, as the agency implements a new strategic plan calling for increased collaboration and coordination among its services.

“We are thrilled to bring this talented leadership team to Solid Ground,” stated Lauren McGowan, Solid Ground Board Chair. “We undertook a national search and in our own backyard found leadership whose careers and life stories embody the notion of creating opportunity for all to thrive,” she said.

“People in our communities continue to suffer from the prolonged economic downturn,” McGowan said. “As an agency, we are being called on to do more, often with less. Gordon and Sandi have the vision and skills to expand Solid Ground’s response to poor and oppressed people, as well as our advocacy to address root causes of social injustice.”

“Fundamentally, it’s about leadership,” McHenry said. “We envision Solid Ground being perceived as a key leader when it comes to addressing economic disparities.”

McHenry previously served in a variety of executive leadership roles in The Boeing Company, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Citizenship in the Northwest Region. A lifelong member of the Seattle community, McHenry has served on many local boards, including the Central Area Motivation Program (now called Centerstone), United Way and The Seattle Public Library. He currently serves on the boards of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Seattle University.

McHenry’s father was the first African-American engineer promoted into management at Boeing, as well as the first person in his family to graduate from college. His mother grew up and was educated in a segregated community in Texas. Their experiences gave their children deep respect for education and a strong belief in being active community leaders.

Cutler’s father led efforts to desegregate public schools in the Central Valley of California. His legacy bore fruit in Cutler’s early work as a political activist and management of progressive political campaigns and reform efforts.

“I am delighted to team up with Sandi Cutler. His activist roots and organizational development experience will help Solid Ground strengthen our community by giving more people the firm foundation they need to succeed,” McHenry said.

Ruth Massinga, Interim CEO since August 2011, will continue working with Solid Ground through the fall on several strategic initiatives.

“Ruth stepped out of retirement and guided us through a strategic refocusing. We are indebted to her for the gift of leadership,” McGowan said.

%d bloggers like this: