After decades of service, the current Executive Director of Twin Cedars Youth & Family Services, Inc., Mike Angstadt, will step down from his position at the beginning of 2017, and he will pass on his leadership role to Deputy Director/Director of Program Services Sheri Cody.
Though the responsibilities are great, Cody is prepared to move the organization forward. “Working at Twin Cedars is a joy. It’s one of those things where you don’t even feel like you’re working some days. It’s my sweet spot; I love this place,” said Cody.
Cody’s heart for this line of work began while she was earning her undergraduate degree at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. She found all of her psychology courses fascinating: “I was really enjoying learning more about how we work.” Cody went on to graduate with her Bachelor’s in Psychology and later earned her Master’s in Counseling at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Cody began working directly with clients, but as time passed, she had to make a choice between returning to school for extra training or taking a different route with administration. At that time, one of her supervisors was preparing to leave and suggested that Cody take the administrative position. “Sometimes, when you pray, opportunities open up that you weren’t necessarily anticipating,” explained Cody.
Cody became the Director of an Alcohol Drug Abuse Program and was later promoted to the Administrative Director of the Bradley Center of St. Francis in Columbus, Georgia, where she served for 18 years.
A friend of Cody’s from the Bradley Center transferred to Twin Cedars, and Cody thought Twin Cedars would be a place she would like to work, too. Soon after, Cody’s friend called to inform her that a Deputy Director position had just been created at Twin Cedars in order to assist Executive Director Mike Angstadt with all of the growth the organization was experiencing.
Cody applied for the job and was selected for the position, but what she didn’t know was that an even bigger role was waiting just for her. Once Angstadt announced that he was retiring, his job became a potentially unique opportunity for Cody. However, making such a job transition required lots of prayer and thought. “I had to talk to people who were important to me and pray about it. I decided to throw my hat in the ring,” said Cody.
Ultimately, Cody decided to step out on faith and apply for the job because she had a passion for Twin Cedars’ innovative work. “Sometimes your wildest dreams are just outside your comfort zone,” she explained.
Upon review of her application and qualifications, Cody was confidently named the upcoming Director of Twin Cedars Youth & Family Services, Inc.; “I know it’s going to be a big transition… and I think that I can help ease that transition without compromising our culture, and our vision, and the way we do things,” Cody said.
This position suits her strengths, too. Cody has mastered skills that far transcend one-on-one office counseling and extend to building relationships, problem solving, and communicating with others.
“When our stakeholders want to partner with somebody to meet a need in the community, and they want an innovative, creative solution, I want them to think of us,” she explained.
Cody’s future goals for Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services, Inc. include not only sustaining progress, but improving progress as well. “There’s always room to do something a little different,” said Cody. She would also like to expand partnerships to further communitywide programs.
The Department of Family and Children’s Services in Georgia places “more emphasis on community programs,” said Cody. 60% of Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services, Inc.’s programs are residential, but Cody has plans to continue growing community outreach.
The organization already offers its own Foster Care Program (that Cody plans to double soon); the organization is expanding its Mental Health and Family Preservation Services as well as its Parenting Services, too. All of these services serve a special purpose, but Cody wants to “focus on taking care of all of our kids better.”
“Prevention, advocacy, treatment, and residential— there are opportunities for growth in each of those areas, and all of it impacts kids. You’re making the difference in the life of kids, and that’s our slogan: Believe you can make a difference in the life of a child. That’s our mission in a nutshell,” said Cody.
All in all, Cody sees her work and her new upcoming position as “a calling to do the work for the children of God.” From the laughter of the children she works with to the laughter that her supportive Board of Directors share, Cody can confidently say, “[I am] looking forward to working with everyone who has made Twin Cedars a success.”
“When you hear the stories that our girls come with and that our boys come with, the trauma that they’ve endured, to help give them a brighter day just makes it all worthwhile,” said Cody, “This is what I’m here for… [to] make people smile.”
With 30 years of experience managing human service organizations, Cody is excited to officially take on her new role on February 4, 2017 as the new Executive Director, leading Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services, Inc. towards even better service for children and their families throughout the community and beyond.
Peyton Hanners Staff Writer