DI: What are your words to live by?
CMK: Balance. In Navajo, the word is “Hozho.” It means balance in all aspects of my life, spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. If I don’t have balance, I am shortchanging my institution and myself. I also keep a sense of humor. It’s amazing what we can accomplish if we get off our high horses.
DI: As one of only a handful of American Indian females in executive positions within the academy, how has your heritage helped and/or hindered your career?
CMK: Being Navajo has tremendously helped my career. I come from a long line of native leaders. My grandfather, Chief Manuelito, was one of the signers of the 1868 treaty for the Navajos. He believed that education was the ladder to success. He said, “Tell my grandchildren to climb this ladder.” This is the strength of my heritage that carries me in my leadership today. The other important piece from my culture includes the support of my family and community in terms of prayer and ceremony.
DI: What do you see as your top three goals for Antioch University Seattle?
CMK: I want to give some bench strength to our diversity. At Antioch, we have students and faculty from all walks of life, but as a woman of color I want to give diversity more emphasis. I want to see us walk our talk. In that vein, my last four hires have been people of color. No. 2 increase our enrollment. The campus has had a flat pattern and has even seen a slight dip in enrollment. We’ve had to deal with the Antioch College closure in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which has caused some confusion here, in Seattle. Some people think it’s the Seattle campus that is closing. We are reminding students that there are five other Antioch campuses and assuring the public that we are alive and well. Additionally, I’d like to increase enrollment among underserved populations and open the campus to those who might never have considered a private school education, particularly Native students. No. 3 increase scholarship dollars that will help bring in more students of color.
DI: What was the appeal of this position?
CMK: The biggest appeals were the innovative Native programs that Antioch has in place. The Center for Native Education, funded by the Gates Foundation, allows Antioch and its group to go out into Native communities, both on the reservation and in urban areas, and assist communities in bringing in early college programs to high schools. Participating communities have seen a 75 to 90 percent increase in high school graduation as a result. The First Peoples Program is a teacher-training program that offers Native teachers curricula at tribal colleges, allowing them to gain teacher certification. I thought, “This is dynamic, I want to be a part of this!” I also like the Antioch history of inclusiveness and social justice and change. In 1852, the university invited Blacks and women to apply and even allowed women teachers.
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