Gov. Jay Inslee has named Leonard Forsman to the University of Washington Board of Regents. Forsman is the first native person to serve as a UW regent. He is chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, where he has served on the tribal council for more than 30 years.
In addition to being a UW alum, Forsman continues to be an active leader at the university. While a student at UW, Forsman worked as an intern at the Suquamish Tribal Archives in a partnership with the Burke Museum and later became director of the Suquamish Museum. He is still engaged at the Burke and is a member of the Burke Museum Advisory Board. Additionally, since becoming chair of the Suquamish Tribe in 2005, Forsman has been deeply involved in tribal summits with UW leadership.
Forsman is president of the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians and serves on the boards of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, the Seattle Waterfront Steering Committee, the Suquamish Tribal Cultural Committee, the Suquamish Museum, the Washington Indian Gaming Association, the West Sound Partners for Ecosystem Recovery, and the Tribal Leaders Congress on Education.
He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 1987.
“Leonard has deep appreciation for the importance of education for all communities. His leadership experience with Suquamish and tireless work on behalf of Northwest tribal communities will be invaluable to UW. His work with the Burke Museum has brought a broader perspective to regional tribal history and culture, and his dedication to historic preservation has made tremendous impacts across the United States,” Inslee said. “He is a leader in every sense of the word and l look forward to his continued service to our region as member of the University of Washington Board of Regents.”
“I am humbled and honored to receive this appointment to the UW Board of Regents. As a student in the early 1980s, I dreamed of a day when tribal students and tribal nations would be recognized appropriately on campus and beyond. This is a great step towards realizing that dream, and I take seriously the responsibility bestowed upon me to serve the university and the tribes," Forsman said. “I look forward to working on tribal issues such as promoting construction of Phase II of the Intellectual House, enhancing and expanding the UW’s research efforts to serve Indian Country priorities, such as climate change, and urging the support or tribal education initiatives which include recruiting native students, training native teachers, developing tribal curriculum, and encouraging more research projects that benefit Indian Country. I would like to thank Governor Inslee for selecting me to help lead this prestigious institution and my tribal council and citizens for their support.”
President Barack Obama appointed Forsman to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 2013 and 2016 where he served as vice-chairman until 2019. Forsman grew up in Suquamish on the Port Madison Indian Reservation where he currently lives with his wife Jana Rice.
The University of Washington Board of Regents governs and stewards the university. The Board selects, supervises, and evaluates the university president. The Board of Regents consists of 10 members, one of whom is a student. Regents are appointed by the governor to serve six-year terms, with the exception of the Student Regent, who serves a one-year term.