Success Stories

Alumnus advises tribal education

Derek Bailey

Derek Bailey was appointed a member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Barack Obama. Bailey earned two degrees from Grand Valley: a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1995 and a master’s degree in social work in 1998.

Bailey was sworn in as tribal chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in December 2008. He is the fifth chairman since the Grand Traverse Band was federally reaffirmed in 1980 and the youngest in the tribe’s history. Bailey is currently the chairman of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and also serves as chairman of the Chippewa/Ottawa Resource Authority.

“I am honored to represent the Grand Traverse Band on so many different levels,” said Bailey, “for Northern Michigan, the state, and the Midwest regions of tribal nations. I am proud of the education I received at Grand Valley and it will complement the work I do at the national level.”

While at Grand Valley, Bailey was president of the Native American Student Association, an organization that engages the community through programs that share Native American culture. He said he will never forget getting the phone call from the White House about his appointment.

“The woman told me that the president had signed off on my presidential nomination. I asked her if she could please repeat that and she thought she misspoke,” Bailey recalled. “I told her I just wanted to hear the words one more time.”

Bailey said he looks forward to serving on the council and sharing his passion for education. “It is important that educational opportunities are accessible for all. We know that with individual success comes state and national success,” he said. “I look forward to progressing our tribal nation forward.”

by Dottie Barnes

This story was filed with the tags: Diversity, Graduate Alumni, National Recognition, Undergraduate Alumni