Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles selected Colleen Echohawk to receive the 2020 MLK Medal of Distinguished Service award.
King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles on Tuesday awarded Colleen Echohawk with the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service, an annual award that recognizes individuals whose work has answered the question asked by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “What are you doing for others?”
“It’s very rare to find someone so dedicated to working for the greater good, someone who sees value in all people and is willing to courageously fight for them every day,” Kohl-Welles said. “Colleen Echohawk is one of those rare examples of someone who truly lives to answer Dr. Martin Luther King’s question ‘What are you doing for others?’ I’m fortunate to have her as a constituent in District 4.”
As executive director of the Chief Seattle Club and founder of the Coalition to End Urban Native Homelessness, Echohawk is committed to homeless advocacy and changing the trajectory of Native American and Alaska Native people living away from reservations in urban places and experiencing homelessness. An enrolled member of the Kithehaki Band of the Pawnee Nation and a member of the Upper Athabascan people of Mentasta Lake, she focuses on creating systems and structures that help facilitate wellness and encourage kindness and courage.
Named as one of Seattle’s most influential people by Seattle Magazine in 2019 and one of Seattle Met Magazine’s 50 most influential women in 2018, Echohawk has also been awarded the Adeline Garcia Community Service Award (2018), Antioch University’s Public Service Award (2018), and Crosscut Media’s Courage Award for Public Service (2016). Under Echohawk’s leadership, Chief Seattle Club was the winner of the 2017 Neighborhood Builder Award, and Municipal League of King County’s Organization of the Year (2016).
In her spare time, she loves to read, sing karaoke, listen to National Public Radio and cook delicious food for her friends and family. Echohawk is a proud mom of two children and is married to Matt Hayashi.
This marks the fifth year that councilmembers have each selected someone from their district whose work embodies the spirit of King’s question.