Chrissy Downwind was recently appointed as Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College’s vice president for American Indian success and campus diversity officer.
Downwind is the first American Indian woman to hold a vice president position at a four-year university campus in the Minnesota State system. Downwind has been the executive director of the American Indian Resource Center since January 2020.
A 2002 BSU alumna, Downwind was part of the on-campus committee that advocated for the AIRC to be built in 2003 and was an active member of the BSU’s Council of Indian Students during her time at BSU. She helped organize events like BSU’s annual powwow, which was held for the 50th time last Saturday.
Downwind’s appointment coincides with BSU’s recent unveiling of its Nisidotaading Program. Ojibwe for “having a mutual understanding,” the initiative will ensure BSU students across all disciplines graduate with an understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures and the issues they face.
Dr. John L. Hoffman, president of BSU and NTC, says Downwind is uniquely qualified to both lead the institutions in this work and, through her authentic leadership style, to ensure that student success and retention initiatives extend to all students, regardless of their ethnic, cultural or socio-economic backgrounds.
“Chrissy is a trusted and respected leader not only at BSU and NTC, but also throughout the region,” he said.
“Her passion to serve underrepresented students is clear in everything she does. In this moment of our history, Chrissy will provide bold leadership that draws from Ojibwe culture and values to advance our cornerstone values of holistic student learning and success for all students through initiatives rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a valued member of my Executive Cabinet, and I look forward to working for her in this new capacity.”