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.
“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).