Chrissy Downwind promoted to VP for American Indian student success for BSU, NTC
Downwind is believed to be the first American Indian woman to hold a vice president position at a four-year university within the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities.
BEMIDJI — Chrissy Downwind recently became the first American Indian woman to hold a vice president position at a four-year university within the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities, according to a release from Bemidji State University.
Downwind, who has served BSU and Northwest Technical College as executive director of the American Indian Resource Center since January 2020, was promoted to the role of vice president for American Indian student success and campus diversity officer effective Monday, April 24.
"Chrissy will provide vital leadership for the ongoing BSU and NTC commitment to provide equitable educational opportunities to all students, especially low-income, first-generation, LGBTQIA+, American Indians and students of color," the release said. "Her work will include elimination of all equity gaps through an intentional, systematic infusion of diverse ways of knowing, being and doing into policies, protocols, curricula and programming at both campuses."
Downwind will continue to provide leadership for the Institute for Indigenous Education and Practice, which was launched this year. Her appointment also coincides with BSU's recent unveiling of its Nisidotaading program, which aims to help students develop an understanding of Indigenous people and cultures.
"BSU and NTC have taken big steps toward righting some of the wrongs made toward the American Indian community by educating on the truths behind the history of our place,” Downwind said in the release.
Before joining the AIRC, Downwind worked for 15 years in a variety of American Indian student-support roles in northern Minnesota K-12 schools.
A 2002 BSU alumna, Downwind, who identifies as Ojibwe and Lakota, was an active member of BSU’s Council of Indian Students and served as its secretary treasurer, helped plan BSU’s annual powwow and coordinated fundraisers for the council. She was also part of the on-campus committee that advocated for the AIRC to be built in 2003.
Downwind earned a bachelor’s degree in Indian studies from BSU, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and is currently completing a doctoral program in education with an emphasis in leadership and management at Capella University.