Stacy Leeds | Cherokee Dean

“We never control the timing of our opportunities.”

“ I always thought about the removal with anger or sadness…and now I think about survival and resilience.”

Stacy Leeds

Stacy Leeds is a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is also Dean and Professor of Law at the University of ArkansasSchool of Law. Recently, the university reappointed Dean Leeds to a second term as Dean.

Let me restate that: Dean Leeds is a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Stacy Leeds

photo courtesy of Stacy Leeds

I am excited to get this conversation on the record to share, because Stacy is one of Indian Country’s shining stars.

Stacy is from Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was active in sports, excelling in basketball. Eventually she played small forward at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She was not familiar with the school’s prestige when the school contacted her initially, she decided to attend because it was where she could play ball.

This is a familiar theme in Stacy’s life, jumping into something full steam ahead. I’ve always found, despite my desire to learn as much as I can about an issue, the best way to do things is to dive in. Because when you dive into something you cannot allow yourself to get in your own way.

After college, she attended the University of Tulsa College of Law. During law school, she realized her desire to enter legal academia. So after school she participated as a Hastie Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School. When the fellowship was finished, she taught at the University of North Dakota.

Her next stop was at the University of Kansas teaching as part of the Indigenous Studies program. Here she was able to take on an interim role as Dean. It was here where she realized that she could take on this role. Soon after, she was presented an opportunity to apply for the Dean position at Arkansas.

One of my favorite parts of the conversation was listening to Dean Leeds discuss her recent experience as a participant in the Remember the Removal ride.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The challenge of choosing between two good options.
  • Finding the Native community regardless of where you live.
  • Getting burned out, and taking care of yourself to prevent it.
  • The importance of relationships in Indian Country, law, and beyond.
  • The power of relativity and connection.
  • Working “in” Indian Country, and what does it mean when opportunities arise to work beyond Indian Country exclusively.
  • The phone call she got when she was offered the Dean position.
  • The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.

No matter where you are in your professional journey, you can take something away from Stacy’s experience.

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