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Meet the Director

The Director of Tribal Relations serves as the primary point of contact for Tribal issues and acts as a liaison between the University and Tribal governments. The director is responsible for strengthening relationships with Tribal governments in mutually reinforcing and sustainable partnership.

Headshot of Sherri Berdine

Sherri Berdine (Aleut & CIRI descendent) joined the University of Washington as the Director of Tribal Relations in March 2022. Sherri is a proud graduate of the UW, where she majored in Sociology and minored in American Indian Studies. She later earned a Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law from the University of Tulsa College of Law. Through these courses of studies, she has learned and deeply internalized how the unique status of Indian tribes and their historical relationship with the federal government affect government programs, responsibilities and initiatives as well as the integral role of federal Indian policy in all aspects of working with tribal governments.

Early in life, it was impressed upon her that she would have a mission and role in maintaining and supporting tribal cultures and tribal sovereignty. Dedicating herself to this mission, she gained significant experience managing contracts and programs by working with the federal government, tribes, universities, foundations and non-profits. She served held several key positions in Senator Murray’s office before joining a Native American government consulting firm, Kauffman & Associates, Inc., in Washington, D.C. There she served 10 years as a senior project manager and director of operations where she focused on government-to-government relations, communication, and education to help tribes and federal agencies partner effectively and work together collaboratively.

She worked with American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) federal representatives, tribal leaders, key stakeholders and community advocates on a variety of topics including but not limited to social policy, public health, arts and culture, education, economic development, governance and culturally appropriate research and evaluation in tribal communities. She is a certified facilitator in the Technology of Participation (TOP) methodology through the Institute of Cultural Affairs. She also previously served a term as the youngest Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Native Research Network – a national association and network of Native and non-Native health researchers who are involved in and care about health-related research among indigenous populations. Her areas of interest are Native nation-building, governance, economic development, gaming, education and traditional and cultural arts.