Laural Ballew has been named as Western Washington University’s first executive director of American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nations Relations & Tribal Liaison to the President.
Ballew most recently served as department chair of Tribal Governance and Business Management at Northwest Indian College, a program which she created. Ballew was hired following a national search, and she will start at Western on Jan. 28, 2019.
An enrolled member of the Swinomish Tribe, Ballew has lived on the Lummi reservation with her husband of 43 years, Timothy Ballew Sr. They have two sons, Timothy II and Raymond, and two grandsons, Hunter and Tandy. She received a bachelor’s degree, with a major in American Cultural Studies and a minor in Native American Studies, from Western in 2002. She earned a master’s degree in Public Administration, from The Evergreen State College, and is studying for a doctorate in Indigenous Development and Advancement from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, in New Zealand.
“We are delighted and honored to welcome Laural Ballew to Western in this important inaugural tribal relations role. Laural has deep experience and relationships having lived among Swinomish and Lummi Nation tribal communities all of her life and worked with Native organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Alaska. This, together with her experience developing a baccalaureate program in Tribal Governance and Business Management at Northwest Indian College, makes her uniquely qualified to serve the needs of our Native students, faculty and staff, to create deeper relationships with our indigenous neighbors, and to advance tribal and university policy initiatives,” said Donna Gibbs, vice president of University Relations and Marketing at Western.
In addition to her most recent position, Ballew also served as public and tribal administration program coordinator; comptroller; and staff accountant at Northwest Indian College. She served as budget officer for the Lummi Indian Business Council; business manager for the Lummi Tribal Health Center; and as grant office manager, accountant and grant accountant for the Lummi Indian Business Council.
“As a Native mother, grandmother and alumnus of WWU, I am excited to fulfill this new position and continue my role in leadership for equitable and sustaining relationships to support Native students. With this confirmation as tribal liaison for WWU I envision the prospect to build a successful and equitable pathway for all Native students. I am grateful for this opportunity to promote and sustain a tribal presence in higher academia,” Ballew said.
The position of executive director of American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nations Relations & Tribal Liaison to the President is a new position at the university and is now part of Western’s division of University Relations and Marketing. The position has both external and internal-facing leadership responsibilities. Externally, Ballew will represent the WWU president and Board of Trustees as a liaison and envoy to American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nations governments. Internally Ballew will advocate for the support and success of American Indian/Alaska Native students at Western.