Cheryl Ellenwood, PhD

Assistant Professor, Washington State University

Cheryl is currently an assistant professor and an affiliate of the Center for Native American Research & Collaboration at Washington State University. She holds a PhD in Public Management from the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. She earned a M.A. degree in American Indian Studies with a focus on Indian Law and Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has research interests in philanthropy, nonprofit management, social enterprises and hybrid organization forms. Her research examines the relationships between funding entities and nonprofit organizations and the role of legitimacy in diverse resource acquisition.

Cheryl's dissertation examines organizational survival among community development financial institutions, particularly with consideration to their 'risky' work and mission to provide access to financial capital to underserved communities. Dissertation chapters include a legislative history, a qualitative illustrative case study of three organizations (urban, Latino-serving, and Native CDFI), and a quantitative analysis of organizational characteristics and funding outcomes, i.e. diverse funding or revenue streams.

Cheryl is a citizen of the Nez Nation of Idaho and grew up on the Nez Perce reservation. She has experience working with Native-led organizations in both the public and private sector and maintains an interest in minority-led nonprofits and community-based nonprofits in traditionally underserved communities. She draws from her broad professional experience and discipline to view organizations in both broad and narrow terms depending on the research purpose and context.

Cheryl's co-authored paper with Yi Zhao (PhD Candidate in Sociology) was awarded first place in the 2019 Bowers Award competition for their paper, "Same Cue, Different Reactions: Audience Evaluation of Hybrid Organizations and the Differential Effect of Gender Signal".Their paper is currently under review.

Cheryl is eager to begin her residency as a 2019-2020 Indigenous Data Sovereignty Doctoral Scholar and to partner with the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network. She hopes to learn from the expansive network of critical scholars working in data sovereignty and to find overlapping areas of interest, particularly areas within the intersection of public administration or organization theory and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Throughout her residency, she plans to engage in work and discussions that help push the data sovereignty movement into public management, and other spaces where scholars have traditionally misunderstood or do not engage with issues that affect Indigenous peoples and organizations.


  • Ph.D.