Andee’s Army, an organization devoted to helping pay medical costs for children with brain and spinal cord injuries, recently hired Buckhead resident Nina Cheney as the foundation’s first executive director.

“At this point in our development, we needed somebody full-time to make sure the money goes to the right places and programs get planned,” said John Carlos, president and chief operating officer of Republic National Distributing Company and chairman of Andee’s Army.

Nina Cheney, executive director of Andee’s Army.

Andee’s Army began in 2011 after a teenager, Andee Poulos, suffered a severe brain injury and received treatment at the Shepherd Center in Buckhead. A group of family and friends came together to help pool resources, resulting in the formation of Andee’s Army. Now recovered from her injuries, Andee will graduate high school this year at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs.

Once Andee’s recovery was underway, the organization expanded to help other children and young adults in similar situations.
Cheney came to be involved with Andee’s Army after attending its annual fundraising event, “An Evening of Hope,” last year. The charity raised $1 million at that event, the organization said in a press release.

Patient grant programs funded through Andee’s Army helped more than 150 patient families throughout the country with expenses not covered by insurance for critical therapy at the Shepherd Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Eligible expenses for patient consideration include therapies, doctor and specialist visits, home health aids, durable equipment, assistive technology equipment, and basic home modifications.

Cheney most recently served as executive director of the nsoro Foundation, which supports education and mentoring for foster children. “Nina did a really great job at nsoro, and we wanted her to move [Andee’s Army] forward to the next level,” Carlos said. “Working full time will really allow her to have an opportunity to do that, and put her heart and soul into it.”

Cheney has an active philanthropic track record with the Atlanta community, holding positions on the Savannah College of Art and Design board of visitors and the board of directors of the contemporary arts organization WonderRoot. She chaired the

“Amuseum” fund-raising event last year at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. She serves on the museum’s advisory board.

For the past six years, she has devoted her energies to the Emory Neurology Department’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, working to raise funds as well as creating awareness of the disease through outreach programs.

Approximately five weeks into her role, Cheney said she enjoys meeting the children and hearing their stories. Her primary goals are to spread the word of Andee’s Army and help as many children as possible. “Everyone’s recovery time is different, which is why it is so important to have an organization like Andee’s Army that picks up where insurance leaves off,” Cheney said.
Cheney said brain and spinal cord injuries are increasing among young people and can occur from activities such as soccer or football.

“The brain is everything. It is central to living a full life,” Cheney said.

She hopes to create an educational campaign and partner with schools about brain and spinal cord function and to continue working side by side with CHOA and The Shepherd Center.

–Jaclyn Turner