(she, her, hers)
Denise has dedicated her career to combating educational injustice and investing in opportunities for institutionally underserved youth. She works to improve student achievement, increase youth voice and engagement, and involve young people and their communities in making equitable decisions about education. An enrolled member of the Mandan Hidatsa Tribes and a descendant of the Blackfeet Tribe and the Tlingit and Haida Tribes, Denise is a strong advocate for Native students and Tribal communities.
Denise began her career as a teacher on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Later, she worked as an instructional specialist and director of Indian education in the Montana Office of Public Instruction. In 2008, she became the first American Indian woman elected to statewide executive office in the country, serving as Montana’s superintendent of public instruction. During her tenure, dropout rates for American Indian students decreased by 33 percent, and the statewide graduation rate reached historic highs. More recently, Denise served as the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, leading one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest and most diverse school systems through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- J.D., University of Montana
- M.Ed, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- B.A., English and Language Arts Education, Montana State University-Bozeman