Colleen Fukui-Sketchley Named 2015 Charles E. Odegaard Award Recipient
Although there are many alumni whose commitment to the UW community deserves praise, few will leave a legacy quite as impressive as our very own Colleen Fukui-Sketchley.
Fukui-Sketchley was recently named the recipient of the 2015 Charles E. Odegaard Award – the UW’s highest achievement in diversity and an honor bestowed on individuals who embody the former UW’s president’s distinguished commitment to diversity. Today, we reflect on her role in establishing the UW Impact program while serving as the UW Alumni Association’s first (and youngest) female Asian-American president. She served as the public face of UW Impact’s news conference launch, and worked closely with the UWAA’s Board of Trustees to hire a full-time UW Impact director.
Nearly five years later, Fukui-Sketchley is still an active participant. She regularly communicates with her legislators on behalf of the University, encourages participation from fellow alums and participates in UW Impact’s Legislative Advocacy Committee.
“Many alums are accustomed to the traditional asks of their time, knowledge or money. Asking an alum to reach out to his or her lawmaker to support the UW and public higher education is often a new request,” said Courtney Acitelli, UW Impact’s program director. “Colleen embraced the importance of legislative advocacy and understood from the onset that alumni have a critical role in driving lasting change.”
Those who know Fukui-Sketchley know how committed she is to her community. She’s a native of Seattle, a second-generation Husky and a long-time leader in Seattle-headquartered Nordstrom, where she serves as diversity affairs director. She served on the UW’s Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program (FEOP) for more than 12 years, and now participates on a number of other local and national boards.
“It has been my pleasure to volunteer for the UW and within my various communities,” says Fukui-Sketchley. “I am grateful for the experiences I had as a UW student and am delighted to give back as much as possible to the University that gives so much to our region, state and world.”
UW Impact is now in its fifth year, and continues to advocate for adequate, stable funding for the UW. Higher education lost nearly half of its public funding during the Great Recession. Though lawmakers have kept tuition frozen for the last two years, reinvestment is minimal, and Washington students and families continue to struggle with the high cost of a degree.
“The alumni voice is uniquely positioned as one of the institution’s most powerful ambassadors,” said Fukui-Sketchley. “My UW education propelled my personal and professional life, and now it is easy to draw on those stories to tell lawmakers why investing in public higher education is vital to our future.”
Fukui-Sketchley started a legacy of alumni advocacy and civic engagement that we hope to see passed down to generations of UWAA members. Thank you, Colleen. We wouldn’t be doing this work without you.