Contact: Charlene Briner 651-582-1145 (o) 651-492-9158 (c)
ROSEVILLE – Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced today that Dennis Olson Jr. will serve as the new director of American Indian Education for the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). This key position further strengthens the department’s efforts to better serve Minnesota’s American Indian students through a stronger relationship with each of the state’s eleven tribal nations, and to work collaboratively to develop strategies to improve student outcomes for American Indian children.
“Dennis’ extensive background and knowledge will be a tremendous asset in carrying out this very important role,” Dr. Cassellius said. “This administration has placed a high priority on strengthening the relationship with the state’s sovereign nations, and I’ve made a personal commitment to step up efforts to increase achievement for American Indian students. Establishing this position and bringing someone with Dennis’ skills and experience on board is key to those ongoing efforts.”
Prior to working at the Department of Education, Olson served as the commissioner of education for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He has also worked with the University of Minnesota, acting as a project coordinator for the Institute on Community Integration. Olson received his Master’s in education and liberal studies with a concentration on Federal Indian Policy from the University of Minnesota – Duluth.
“There are many unique barriers facing today’s American Indian youth. I am excited to work with Minnesota’s American Indian communities to address these challenges and increase academic achievement and opportunity for all students,” said Olson.