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Colleen Echohawk is a born organizer, change-maker, and leader with over twenty years’ experience championing both Seattle's marginalized populations and Native prosperity nationwide. Her experiences as an Indigenous woman, small business owner, community organizer, and executive leader inform her efforts in building a community of justice and reconciliation.
An enrolled member of the Kithehaki Band of the Pawnee Nation and a member of the Upper Athabascan people of Mentasta Lake, Colleen is proud to have called Seattle home for over two decades. She is a champion for change, igniting successful coalitions to bring about positive shifts in Seattle’s housing, homelessness, racial justice, sustainability, and public safety issues.
Over seven years, Echohawk leveraged her position at Chief Seattle Club to organize and advocate on behalf of several Native-led groups across the city, an effort that has made major changes to the homelessness system and its data collection in recent years. – Seattle Times
Colleen is committed to serving the most vulnerable people living in the Greater Seattle community. As the Executive Director at the Chief Seattle Club, Colleen led the effort to create nearly $100 million in new affordable housing in Seattle and oversaw the best rapid rehousing success program in the county. At the Seattle Community Police Commission, Colleen worked hand-in-hand with neighbors to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system and to create progress in how Seattle rethinks public safety. As the founder of the Coalition to End Urban Indigenous Homelessness, Colleen continues to passionately advocate for homeless Indigenous people in urban centers.
Colleen photographed by Amanda Snyder for the Seattle Times
In her latest role as the CEO of Native lifestyle brand Eighth Generation, Colleen is using her connections and business acumen to take the small business global. Through an artist-centric approach and positive outlook, the brand is poised under Colleen’s leadership to share authentic, Native-designed art and home goods with an international audience eager for ethically made cultural products.
Believing Seattle to be the best city in the world, Colleen is particularly drawn to the city’s art, music, and food scenes. In her spare time, Colleen loves to watch Netflix originals, belt Beyonce with friends at karaoke, take her dog Rizzo for long walks, and bake for her friends and family.
Awards and Public Service:
Colleen has sat on multiple boards, including the Seattle Foundation, KUOW (National Public Radio member station), Downtown Seattle Association, Pioneer Square Preservation Board, All-Home Coordinating Board, and was board chair at Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre. Under Colleen’s leadership, Chief Seattle Club received the Puget Sound Sage Visionary for Justice Award (2018), the Neighborhood Builder Award (2017), and the Municipal League of King County’s Organization of the Year (2016).
She is recognized as one of Seattle’s most influential people by Seattle Magazine (2020 and 2019), and one of the 50 most influential women by Seattle Met Magazine (2018). Colleen is proud to have received the King County Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service (2020), the Adeline Garcia Community Service Award (2018), Antioch University’s Public Service Award (2018), and Crosscut Media’s Courage Award for Public Service (2016).