May 20, 2021

Dr. Michelle Johnson-Jennings, a Choctaw Nation-enrolled tribal member, joins the School of Social Work June 1 as professor and director of the division of environmentally based health and land-based healing at the School’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute. Her areas of interest include Indigenous health and psychology, the transformation of historical trauma, land-based healing, health promotion, chronic disease and addiction prevention.

Johnson-Jennings has partnered with many international and national Indigenous nations, organizations and communities to prevent substance abuse, food addiction and obesity. She co-developed health interventions entrenched in ancestral guidelines to encourage a renewed commitment to health and the revitalization of medicine, food and land-based practices. 

“As the University continues its commitment to the health and well-being of Indigenous communities, Michelle’s extensive expertise will help us make continued progress in that area,” says Eddie Uehara, Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work. “We are honored and delighted she is joining our community of distinguished scholars and teachers.”

Before joining the School, Johnson-Jennings was an associate professor in community health and epidemiology in medicine and associate professor in Indigenous studies as well as the scientific director of the National Indigenous HIV/AIDS Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. She holds the Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Community Engaged Research and has a joint appointment at the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health.

She founded and directed the Research for Indigenous Community Health Center at the University of Minnesota and conducted research in New Zealand as part of a U.S. Fulbright scholarship. She has presented her research at numerous international professional conferences and is on the editorial board of Indigenous Policy Journal

Johnson-Jennings received her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University where she specialized in human development and psychology and contemporary Native issues.