Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs was born on December 23 1968 in Terneuzen,
In 1991 she graduated with honors from the State Economic Institute for Translators and Interpreters, Brussels, majoring in French and German. She met Mikheil Saakashvili in 1993 while attending a course on human rights in Strasbourg and later that year moved to New York where she worked at Columbia University and a Dutch law firm.
In 1996 the couple returned to Georgia, where Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She has also been a correspondent for Dutch radio covering Georgian politics and socio-economic topics since 1997.
In 1998 the first lady founded the SOCO Foundation (www.soco.ge) a charitable non-governmental organization which conducts humanitarian projects for the most vulnerable groups sponsored by both Western-European and Georgian companies and individuals. The SOCO Foundation as of 2007 is mainly focusing on reproductive health and care for newborns.
From 1999 to 2003 Mrs.Roelofs was a free-lance business consultant for mainly Dutch companies interested in business opportunities in Georgia. At the same time she was coordinator for a management know-how transfer program funded by the Netherlands government and she was a visiting lecturer of French language at Tbilisi State University. From Fall 2003 she switched to the Caucasus School of Business, a private educational institution where she has been teaching French to students till summer 2007.
Besides her native tongue Ms. Roelofs is proficient in French, English, German, Russian and Georgian, learning a regional language in Georgia: Mingrelian.
In March 2005 the First Lady of Georgia published her autobiography "Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs - the Story of an Idealist" in Amsterdam, in the Dutch language. A translation in Georgian and in Ukrainian followed in October 2005 and March 2006 respectively. The Russian translation of the book was released in December 2007, the Turkish in February 2008, the English in May 2010 and the Polish in January 2011. The book describes her first trip to Georgia in summer 1992, her meeting with Mikheil Saakashvili, their life in the United States, her integration in Georgian society, the couple's career development and the gradually growing unrest in Georgia leading to the peaceful Rose Revolution of fall 2003.
The First Lady of Georgia takes pride in working on a daily basis on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals with a special focus on reduction of maternal and child mortality, extreme poverty and infectious diseases. Since October 2004 Mrs.Roelofs is the chairperson of the Country Coordinating Mechanism for projects of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Georgia.
She is also chairing the Reproductive Health National Council under the Georgian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. She supports this Ministry in issues like the promotion of immunization and healthy life style (including fight against drug abuse).
In spring 2008 Mrs. Roelofs finished with honors a three-year nursing course in Tbilisi and received the diploma.
In 2009 she initiated Stan Storimans' Scholarship for Georgian journalists (www.storimansscholarship.ge) in order to pay respect to the Dutch journalist Stan Storimans who died in Gori during the Russian invasion in August 2008. By this, Georgian journalists are given the opportunity to receive higher education degree, to get professional training and to enhance their skills.
In September 2009 Mrs. Roelofs initiated "Black See Countries Coalition on Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention."
In March 2010 at the branch office of SOCO Foundation Mrs. Roelofs established "Alliance for Rare Diseases" which aims to unite and strengthen efforts of all organizations and self-help groups working on rare diseases.
In March 2011 the First Lady of Georgia became WHO Europe Goodwill Ambassador for Millennium Development Goals.
Mrs. Roelofs has also been elected in Autumn 2011 to represent Georgia at the Global Fund’s Board for 2012-2013.
Since 2004, she started implementing her long-cherished dream of establishing a 24-hour classical music radio station MUZA (www.muza.ge) in Georgia with Dutch expertise, which launched it's broadcasting in summer 2007. She is hosting for four hours a week at the radio.
Mrs. Roelofs is chairing "The Association for Promotion of Classical Music" (www.classicalmusic.ge), whose first and biggest project is radio MUZA. Association also assists choirs and orchestras, has scholarship programs for the young talented musicians, promotes wind instruments and organizes summer camps, festivals and master classes.
Mrs. Roelofs herself plays the piano and the flute and loves to sing Georgian folk songs.
She is fond of swimming, tennis and skiing.
Currently she is working as a nurse at the delivery room in Tbilisi.
Since February, 2007 priority of SOCO Foundation has become reproductive health and care for newborns:
- Material assistance (renovation, medical equipment, disposables) to the delivery homes;
- Multi-children families support;
- Information to pregnant women and general public on reproductive health;
- Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle and early prevention of oncological diseases of the reproductive system;
- Education and training of medical personnel in reproductive health (radiologists, neonatologists, midwives);
- Supporting the mobile team of UNFPA (medical staff, material assistance).
- Multi-children families support with food packages - Adjara, Chiatura, Tbilisi;
- Free medical consultation of women in Kvemo Kartli region by the physicians mobile group;
- Start packages for pregnant women in Kvemo Kartli region;
- Healthy Marriage - free medical consultation and treatment along with the incentives for the newly-wed couples in Adjara;
- On-site training of radiologists in Samegrelo and Kvemo Kartli;
- Equipment support of prenatal diagnostics at the Gudushauri clinic in Tbilisi;
- Financial support of transportation and amniocentesis procedure for risk group pregnant women from the regions;
- Material assistance to Makhindjauri Orphanage;
- Material assistance to Borjomi Maternity House.