Cheryl Crazy Bull
President and CEO
Cheryl Crazy Bull, Wacinyanpi Win (They Depend on Her), a member of the Sicangu Lakota nation, is President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, a role she has held since 2012. A lifelong educator and community activist, Cheryl is an advocate for self-determination focused on Native voice, philosophy, and traditions as the heart of the people’s work in building prosperity for current and future generations.
Cheryl’s experience is steeped in Native higher education. She served Sinte Gleska University, a tribal university, on her home reservation as a faculty member, department chair, Dean of Academic Affairs, and Vice President of Administration; served St. Francis Indian School as Chief Educational Officer; and was President of Northwest Indian College, a tribal college in Washington state, for ten years.
She is also a member of the boards of IllumiNative, an organization that focuses on a widespread accurate narrative about Indigenous people; the Native Ways Federation, a national association of Native non-profits; the State Higher Education Executive Officers Organization (SHEEO) Equity Advisory Committee; and the Brookings Institution.
Cheryl is a frequent public speaker, presenter, and writer about Indigenous education and issues with a focus on indigenous higher education equity and place-based education. She has an honorary cultural degree from Sinte Gleska University, an honorary doctorate from Seattle University, and other awards for her leadership as a Native educator and Native woman.
Cheryl has received many awards and honors throughout her long career. In 2015 she was named by Indian Country Today magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in Indian Country. In 2017 she was one of two American Indian women leaders honored by National Indian Women’s “Supporting Each Other” group. The Native American Finance Officers Association honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2019. In March of 2020, CBS paid tribute to Crazy Bull, along with six other women, as an example of what it means to challenge and overcome stereotypes and biases in their industries as part of a series of CBS CARES public service announcements in primetime on the CBS Television Network. Working Mother Media named her their Legacy Awardee at their Multicultural Women’s Conference in July of 2020. In 2021 the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois honored Crazy Bull with its Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell Awardee for exemplary service and philanthropic giving in promoting American Indian culture. Also in November 2021, Global MindED, a non-profit organization dedicated to closing the equity gap by creating a diverse talent pipeline through role models, mentors, and internships, named her as its 2021 Inclusive Leader Awardee.