Meet Jenny Slagle
Until Feb. 1, 2023, we were Group Health Foundation. This post was written under our former identity. To learn more about our new name, read our announcement here.
Jenny Slagle wears many hats. She’s an elected member of Spokane Public Schools’ Board of Directors, a member of the Washington State Budget & Policy Board, a member of the Native American Alliance for Policy & Action, a breast cancer awareness advocate, a restaurant owner, a mother, a wife, and GHF’s newest program officer – just to name a few.
Yet, one part of her identify informs all these roles: “I am, first and foremost, a member of the Yakama Nation and a descendant of the Northern Arapaho. Being a descendant is important to me. Feeling connected to my tribe and my ancestors is a priority, and I bring that into all the spaces I hold.”
Jenny grew up on the Yakama reservation before her dad secured a union job at an aluminum plant that brought the family to Goldendale. Though Jenny aspired to become a lawyer for her tribe and even graduated from high school a year early, she jokes that “life stepped in and had other plans.”
Those plans included a serendipitous post-graduation connection with her husband Andrew, whose family she had known since childhood. As she describes it, “Our paths crossed that summer, and six months to the day of our first date, we were married. We just celebrated our 30th anniversary.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in business – IT management from Western Governors University, Jenny became an administrative manager for the Kalispel Tribal Gaming Agency, where she worked for 15 years. She has also been the communications manager for the NATIVE Project, a Spokane community health clinic offering services to both Native and Non-Native residents, and director of tribal relations for Better Health Together, a nonprofit dedicated to tackling health inequities throughout Eastern Washington.
Most recently, Jenny was the director of tribal partnerships and community engagement for Upstream USA, a nationwide initiative to expand access to contraception and other reproductive health resources – work she reflects on as especially important in light of the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Jenny’s ability to build strong relationships has been a vital part of all her professional roles, and she’s looking forward to bringing that skill to her work as a program officer. “The key ingredients to great relationship building are mutual respect, communication, and listening. Listening more than talking. That way, the knowledge and mission of the organization is centered.”
Jenny’s deep love of learning is another trait she’s excited to bring to GHF. “I consider myself a lifelong learner,” she says. “I know a bit about each of the 29 tribes across the state, but I am looking forward to learning as much as I can about the west side and all the great organizations there.”
When she isn’t working, volunteering, or serving on the school board, you’ll find Jenny at Indigenous Eats, the restaurant she opened with her husband and four adult children: Andy, Nika, Matthew, and Karalyn. The restaurant celebrates contemporary Native American comfort food and is the first of its kind in Spokane. “The response has been amazing, and we’ve needed this in Spokane. Why, as a hub for urban Native people, haven’t we had this before? You’ll find me there most nights. It’s a real family business, something we can hand down to our children.”