Leonard Forsman is a nationally recognized leader and involved University of Washington alumnus.

He brings deep experience and valuable perspective as the first Native American appointee to the UW Board of Regents. Gov. Jay Inslee announced the appointment on Oct. 25.

Washington’s tribal leaders have long advocated for stronger representation in the state’s higher education leadership, Forsman said last week. He added, “I was a little taken aback when I was asked that it be me.”

But Forsman was a natural choice. The chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians has long been involved in education issues, serving on the state’s Tribal Leaders Congress on Education. He has served on distinguished boards including two terms on the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation under President Barack Obama. Just last week, he joined White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy on a panel exploring the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in climate change mitigation strategies at a White House Tribal Nations Summit.

Inslee wrote in a statement announcing Forsman’s appointment, “Leonard has deep appreciation for the importance of education for all communities. …”He is a leader in every sense of the word.”

Forsman also knows firsthand the pressures faced by many of the UW’s nearly 700 Native American students. They often feel responsible for representing not only themselves, but also their families and their tribal nations, he said. Since receiving his anthropology degree from the UW in 1987, he has remained active at the university, serving on the Burke Museum Association Advisory Council and helping bring the Intellectual House — a longhouse-style learning and gathering space — to the Seattle campus.

He said he is deeply invested in tribal issues such as recruitment and retention of Native students, staff and faculty, expanding research efforts into climate change and other projects of special concern in Indian Country. He said he wants to bring a stronger tribal identity to campus, including further development of the Intellectual House.

Forsman has the deep knowledge and broad experience to help make these priorities a reality. He is a welcome addition to the board.