College of Education and Human Development

School of Social Work

Sue Abderholden

Areas of interest

Courses taught: SW 8806: Health and Mental Health Policy

Education: BA in Political Science, Macalester College; Master’s in Public Health Administration University of Minnesota


The Executive Director at NAMI Minnesota since 2001, Sue has held leadership positions at Arc of Minnesota, Minnesota office of US Senator Paul Wellstone, and PACER Center. For over 40 years she's developed and advocated for public policies to improve the lives of people with disabilities or mental illnesses and their families. Her family had a foster care license for many years, providing respite care for families of children with disabilities and youth aging out of foster care. She has served on several boards, (such as Goodwill Easter Seal, Hearth Connection and the MN Rural Health Association) and a number of state advisory committees and task forces.

She has received awards for her advocacy work, including the 2020 Esther Wattenberg Policy Award, being named one of the 100 most influential health care leaders by MN Physician, the 2018 Rona and Ken Purdy Award to End Discrimination from National NAMI, Excellence in Mental Health Advocacy and Policy Award from the International African Mental Health Providers, 2013 Gaylord Anderson Leadership Award from the U of M School of Public Health, the National Council for Behavioral Health 2013 Advocacy Leadership Award, Distinguished Community Partner Award from the U of M School of Social Work, Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies, Systems Advocacy Award from Arc of Minnesota, NASW Citizen of the Year, Paul Wellstone Advocacy Award from the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, Heroes for Children Award from the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, and many others.