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Coon Rapids grad, Todd Archbold, leads effort to expand mental health care in Minnesota

(10/25/2022) A social worker and a summer volunteer gig led 1999 Coon Rapids High School graduate, Todd Archbold, on a career path that would wind through the mental health care field, from school social worker to CEO of PrairieCare - one of the nation’s largest providers of psychiatric services. PrairieCare CEO Todd Archbold

Archbold decided to volunteer at a teen center for at-risk youth in Coon Rapids over summer break between his junior and senior year of high school, where an Anoka-Hennepin school social worker, Mike Kochendofer, also volunteered. 

“I loved everything he brought to the table: his persona, what he did with kids,” Archbold said of Kochendofer. “He taught me a lot about how to build meaningful connections. So, I ended up going into social work because of him. I wanted to ‘Be Like Mike.’”

Archbold attended Anoka-Hennepin Schools straight through his K-12 education, from Hoover Elementary School to Coon Rapids Middle and High School. He also completed his college internship at Lincoln Elementary School. 

After spending the first years of his career in school social work and coaching multiple Anoka-Hennepin swim and dive teams, Archbold shifted to a treatment setting at what was then Prairie St. John’s, now PrairieCare. 

“There was a lot of overlap and similar work being done, just in different settings,” he said of the change. 

Archbold was the 10th employee hired at PrairieCare’s first Minnesota location, working directly with patients and families as a social worker. Soon, Archbold found himself drawn to crafting policies on other aspects of patient care, and the organization’s founder promoted him to a supervisor, which led to a director position, then onward up the ladder before ultimately taking on the role as PrairieCare’s CEO in January 2020. 

He has led the expansion of nine Minnesota PrairieCare locations during his tenure, including the recent groundbreaking on a 30-bed expansion at its Brooklyn Park facility, which will allow the organization to serve 1,000 more patients per year starting next fall. 

Even as Archbold’s career and organization grew, he found time to write a book on leadership in 2018, called “Leading with the Head and Heart,” which initially began as a packet of notes and information for the person taking his place as he moved from one position to the next. 

Following your passion

Though Archbold imagined himself spending his entire career in education, he said following his passion led to a path he couldn’t have predicted when initially choosing a career. 

“Lean into your passion and the things that really excite you, and let that determine what your career path is,” Archbold said he’d advise today’s students. “Don’t start by choosing the job or the title — start with what gets you really excited.”

Archbold reflected on the impact of teachers: 

“I got a degree in social work, and here I am as a healthcare CEO, but some of the teachers who taught me the most along the way were in subjects that have nothing to do with my career today,” he said. “Outside of the textbooks and curriculum, it was the people, the individuals, who taught me more about values, passion, and just how to be a good person.”

“Especially in this work of human services, in education or healthcare, everyday we’re doing things that are changing lives, and most of the time we’ll never know the long-term impact we’ve had.”