Native American scholar Dr. Cheryl Ellenwood to expand the Tribal Nation Building Leadership programs at Washington State University

Published 11/30/2020

by Deb Strohmaier

Dr. Ellenwood will join WSU’s Center for Native American Research and Collaboration (CNRC) and the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) tasked with the mission of expanding Tribal Nation Building Leadership programs aimed at developing Native American students’ leadership skills and knowledge based on tribal principles and values. Ellenwood will work with the Director of the CNRC, Dr. Zoe Higheagle Strong, and the Director of IREACH, Dr. Dedra Buchwald, to develop initiatives and courses that support the recruitment, college persistence, and graduation of Native American students. The goal is not only to help students succeed in their college and career pathways, but also to return and serve the economic, educational, and health needs of their tribal and urban Indian communities.

With a doctorate in Public Administration and Management from the University of Arizona and a masters in American Indian Studies from UCLA, Dr. Ellenwood brings expertise in organizational theory, Indigenous-led and minority-led organizations, and community development. A citizen of the Nez Perce Nation, she grew up in Kamiah, Idaho on Nez Perce lands and is a graduate of the Na-ha-shnee summer camp, a program that gives Native American high school students real-life WSU experience. She has long experience mentoring Native American adolescent and young adults and is well-versed in community and organizational system factors that impact Native American college and career pathways.

Dr. Ellenwood’s experience engaging and working with communities position her to meaningfully consult and collaborate with tribal members and leaders, whose guidance informs all aspects of CNRC and IREACH’s work. Together, CNRC and IREACH are dedicated to ethical, community-based service and research that honor and respect the sovereign rights and tribal protocols of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples.

Dr. Ellenwood is fiercely committed to improving the lives and prospects of Indigenous peoples and communities. “Much of my work is about creating healthy communities,” she says. “With the Native students I mentor, I’m equipping them with tools to combat Native erasure. From projects that include hard to reach populations to research agendas, we need to be including and promoting American Indians.”