Suquamish chairman named to UW Board of Regents

Forsman first Native American on board

Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leanord Forsman was recently appointed to the University of Washington’s Board of Regents by Gov. Jay Inslee, becoming the first Native American to serve on the board.

As a UW alum, Forsman graduated with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 1987,and has served on the Suquamish tribal council for over 30 years. As a student, Forsman worked as an intern at the Suquamish Tribal Archives and later became director of the Suquamish Museum, a news release states. Since becoming chair of the tribe in 2005, Forsman has been involved in tribal summits with UW leadership.

“Leonard has deep appreciation for the importance of education for all communities. His leadership experience with Suquamish and tireless work on behalf of Northwest tribal communities will be invaluable to UW,” Inslee said. “He is a leader in every sense of the word.”

Forsman is president of the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians and serves on the boards of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, the Seattle Waterfront Steering Committee, the Suquamish Tribal Cultural Committee, the Suquamish Museum, the Washington Indian Gaming Association, the West Sound Partners for Ecosystem Recovery, and the Tribal Leaders Congress on Education, according to the release.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this appointment to the UW Board of Regents. As a student in the early 1980s, I dreamed of a day when tribal students and tribal nations would be recognized appropriately on campus and beyond. This is a great step towards realizing that dream, and I take seriously the responsibility bestowed upon me to serve the university and the tribes,” Forsman said.

He added he would like to expand the UW’s research on Indian Country priorities, such as climate change, and urged support of tribal education initiatives that include recruiting native students, training native teachers and developing tribal curriculum.

President Obama appointed Forsman to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 2013 and 2016 where he served as vice chairman until 2019, the release states. Forsman grew up in Suquamish on the Port Madison Indian Reservation where he lives with his wife Jana Rice.

The UW Board of Regents governs and stewards the university. The board selects, supervises and evaluates the university president. The board consists of 10 members. Regents are appointed by the governor to serve six-year terms.