Sandra (Sandy) Brophy Cochran was born at Fort Benning, Georgia and grew up on Army posts in the United States and Germany. At Stuttgart American High School, she was a member of the National Honor Society, the tennis team, captain of the cheerleading squad, and President of her class. She graduated with an Army ROTC scholarship in 1976.
College life started at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. In 1978, she transferred to Vanderbilt, graduating in 1980 with a BE in Chemical Engineering.
After being commissioned in the Army upon graduation, she attended the Ordnance Officer Basic Course where she was the Honor Graduate in 1981. Sandy also qualified as a paratrooper and advanced from 2nd Lieutenant to Captain. She served in the 9th Infantry Division first as a Missile Maintenance Officer in the 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery and then on the Division Staff. During those years, she earned an MBA at Pacific Lutheran University doing the course work at night, and in 1983 she left the 9th Division for assignment to the Computer Systems Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Her Army awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Parachute Wings, and several service ribbons.
Leaving the Army in 1985, Sandy began work in Atlanta at The Trust Company Bank. Shortly thereafter, Trust Company merged with Sun Banks, forming SunTrust Banks and she advanced to vice president, Corporate Finance.
While at SunTrust she married Donald Cochran, her Vanderbilt undergraduate classmate, who had also been commissioned at graduation. Don served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the Army Special Forces as a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachute team leader. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School, a former Jefferson County and federal prosecutor, recipient of the highest trial award given by the Department of Justice (the John C. Marshall Award), and now a tenured law professor at the Cumberland Law School of Samford University. Sandra and Don have two children, Katherine and Quinn.
During her time at SunTrust, Sandy met and worked with the Anderson Family, including Charles Anderson and his son Clyde. Charles, whose father founded Books-A-Million in 1917, was at that time chairman of the Books-A-Million Board and Clyde was the president of Books-A-Million. In 1992, they recruited her to join the company as vice-president Finance. In October 1992 Books-A Million went public under the symbol BAMM. She advanced to become chief financial officer in 1993, executive vice president in 1996, president in 1999, and chief executive officer in 2004.
In 1996, in addition to their work at Books-A-Million, Clyde Anderson and Sandy formed Anderson Growth Partners, an investment management company that provides investment and strategic advisory services, primarily to the Anderson Family. The company currently manages over $418 million in assets, for the most part in the United States, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Sandy is the President and Managing Partner of AGP. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of American Promotional Events, Inc., the largest importer, distributor, and retailer of consumer fireworks in the United States. Terry Anderson, the CEO of that company, is another member of the Anderson Family.
Books-A-Million has grown to become the second largest bookstore chain in the United States, with more than 260 stores in 30-plus states and the District of Columbia. Books-A-Million enjoys serving the literary needs of its communities, focusing on quality cities like its home town of Birmingham. The company has three stores in the Nashville area in order to better serve the Vanderbilt community, especially Commodore Engineers.
On April 6, 2009, Sandra joined Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. as the chief financial officer and executive vice president. She was named president and chief operating officer Nov. 3, 2010, and served in that role until she was named chief executive officer of Cracker Barrel Sept. 12, 2011.
Sandy has been a Director of Dollar General Corporation since Dec 5, 2012, and has been an independent director of Lowe's Companies, Inc. since Jan. 29, 2016.