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PRESS RELEASE: DOC Names New Tribal Relations Director

Released March 6, 2023

Contact Chris Wright, Communications Office
image of Colleen Cawston

Tribal Relations Director Colleen Cawston (Photo courtesy of Communications Office)

OLYMPIA - Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Cheryl Strange has appointed Colleen Cawston as the agency’s Tribal Relations Director.

Colleen comes to the department with 28 years of executive leadership experience primarily in health care administration and legislative work. She most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer for Colville Tribes Indian Health Services, where she oversaw two ambulatory clinics that provide a full span of health services. Prior to that, she worked as a Senior Director for the Office of Indian Policy at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, where she was instrumental in the development of the tribal and state relations that are still exercised today.

“As we continue to make progress in promoting an equitable and inclusive environment at DOC, I am confident Colleen’s expertise and guidance will help us build and maintain the relationships we need to ensure trust with our tribal partners,” said Secretary Strange.

Colleen is an enrolled member and citizen of the Colville Tribes and has worked with all 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington, the three tribes in Idaho and Oregon signatory to the Centennial Accord and the six recognized American Indian Organizations that work with Washington state.

Colleen has a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in tribal governance from the Evergreen State College and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in health from Eastern Washington University.