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Prominent Water Protection Advocate and Scholar to Visit CWU on April 11

Native American water protection activist Kelsey Leonard will speak on the role of Native Kelsey Leonard women in the protection, maintenance, and restoration of America's waters on April 11 at Central Washington University.

A public reception will be held in the Dean Hall lobby at 5 p.m., followed by a lecture at 6 p.m. 

“Tribal Nations across the United States have a rich maritime history and ancestral connection to the oceans,” said Leonard, a citizen of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and co-lead on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body of the U.S. National Ocean Council. “It is a connection that sustains our cultural, spiritual, and political existence.”

Leonard’s visit is in celebration of Women History Month and in support of CWU Social Justice and Human Rights Dialogues series. Her lecture “We Do Not Consent: Native Feminism on the Front Lines of Water Protection” is part of the series’ year-long theme on sustainability.

Her role on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body is to guide the protection of America’s oceans and coasts. As an advocate, Leonard has been instrumental in protecting the interests of Tribes with the development of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan, building a sustainable ocean while valuing Indigenous traditions.

Leonard earned her MS in water science, policy and management from the University of Oxford at St. Cross College.  She holds a AB in sociology and anthropology from Harvard University and a JD from Duquesne University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in comparative public policy from McMaster University with a focus on indigenous water security and its climatic, territorial, and governance groundwork.

This event is sponsored by CWU Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Diversity & Equity Center, American Indian Studies, and Social Justice and Human Rights Dialogues.

Media contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,

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