Colleen Jollie, State Tribal Liaison: A Story of Transformational Change


Cheryl Simrell King is the director of the graduate program and a member of the faculty in public administration at The Evergreen State College. She is the coauthor of Transformational Public Service: Portraits of Theory in Practice (M. E. Sharpe, 2005) and Government Is Us: Public Administration in an Anti-Government Era (Sage, 1998), as well as articles in other trade press and academic journals. She writes and practices in the areas of democratizing and transforming public administration, accountability, sustainability, and the relationships among and between citizens and their governments.

Megan Beeby is from the Snoqualmie tribe and works as the environmental tribal liaison for the Washington State Department of Transportation. She has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in Native American studies and a master of public administration degree in tribal governance, both from The Evergreen State College.


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Colleen Jollie, the state tribal liaison at the Washington State Department of Transportation, practices a form of transformational public administration that, at its heart, reflects a Coyote or “trickster” style of management. In indigenous stories across the world, the trickster uses his or her wiles to disrupt, refuse, and dismantle ways that are not working in order to creatively, and sometimes chaotically, build new ways. Jollie’s work as lead tribal liaison has transformed the agency, the tribes, and the relationships between tribes and the agency, creating a culture of cooperation across significant differences and honoring the transformational energy required to cooperate across difference. Like the Coyote, who does what needs to be done through many means, but mostly through thoughtful effort, Jollie works to create change that serves both the state and the tribes. As this profile indicates, the work isn’t always easy and the outcomes don’t always spell success, but the work is necessary for tribes and state governments to forge the kinds of relationships imagined in treaties and in other agreements between sovereign governments.