News & Events


November 1, 2013

Polly Olsen Honored for Community Building

DSC_0534Polly Olsen, IWRI Director of Community Relations was the recipient of the UW 2013  Vice President for Minority Affairs and Vice Provost for Diversity Award for Community Building. The award recognizes a UW student, staff member, faculty member, or community organization whose efforts toward positive change on campus have resulted in multicultural community building.
The award was presented on October 26, 2013 at the 19th Annual Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) Bridging the Gap Breakfast at the Husky Union Building. The breakfast kicks off the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity’s annual homecoming event for alumni of color and friends of diversity. UW Vice President for Minority Affairs and Vice Provost for Diversity Sheila Edwards Lange described Olsen’s work as an advocate, liaison, facilitator, educator and leader on and off the UW campus as manifesting “multicultural community building at its finest.”
DSC_0205Olsen has been an instrumental team-member in the development of Intellectual House, a longhouse-style space on the University’s Seattle campus where Native American students, faculty, staff and others can come together to support Native American student success at UW.  “This type of facility shows young Native Americans who come to campus that higher education is attainable. And it shows our elders that the next generation is continuing to work to create a thriving community.”
Olsen’s efforts to support Native American youth has also been recognized by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to carry out the second phase of IWRI’s Native Youth Enrichment Program. This program seeks to cultivate Native youth’s interest in pursuing studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
IMG_0803-2Olsen received a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology in 1994 from the UW. Prior to the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, Olsen worked at UW School of Medicine’s Native American Center of Excellence. She is a member of the Yakama Tribe. She is president of the board of directors for the Seattle Indian Health Board, is a member of the Native American committee, American Diabetes Association, and serves on the board of directors for the Discuren Charitable Foundation. Please join us in congratulating Ms. Olsen for this recognition of her commitment to Indigenous communities.

press release from the UW’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity