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Diversity Award for Community Building

The University of Washington Vice President for Minority Affairs and Vice Provost for Diversity Award for Community Building is presented annually at the Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) Bridging the Gap Breakfast to a University of Washington student, staff member or faculty member, or community organization whose efforts toward positive change on campus have resulted in multicultural community building.

2013 Recipient – Polly Olsen

Polly Olsen
Polly Olsen Photo: Anil Kapahi

Polly Olsen, ’94, is Director of Community Relations and Development for the UW School of Social Work’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, which last year was named a Center of Excellence by the National Institutes of Health. There, she links UW researchers with tribal communities to examine health-care disparities and find solutions. Polly, a member of the Yakama Tribe, works tirelessly to build community and inclusiveness throughout the UW and with tribal communities. She runs the Elders Committee for the UW Intellectual House, a longhouse facility that is expected to break ground on campus in 2014, as well as outreach programs in K-12 education that focus on providing a safe climate for Native students. Polly also plays a key role in the UW’s annual Tribal Leadership Summit. Before joining the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute in 2007, she served six years as director of the Native American Center for Excellence in the UW School of Medicine. Today, she serves as president of the Board of Directors for the Seattle Indian Health Board, a nonprofit community center that serves the health-care needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the greater Seattle area. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the UW.

Award Criteria

  • Recipient’s efforts or projects alter the way we think about ourselves and the University through multicultural perspectives
  • Recipient encourages dialogue, promotes reflection, builds community and inspires action
  • Recipient engages in public and/or academically oriented endeavors that demonstrate leadership skills in organizing change on campus
  • Recipient’s efforts bring about equity on campus or in our society

Award Presentation

The award will be presented by the Vice President & Vice Provost at the Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) Bridging the Gap Breakfast during UW Homecoming weekend, Saturday, October 26, 2013.