As the Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP) awaits its new physical home at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, it has a new leader to take it there.

Headshot of Danielle Yancey
Danielle Yancey

Danielle Yancey assumes her new role after the retirement of Dr. Jacquelynn Arbuckle in June, and departure of Dr. Christine Athmann, who was NACHP's assistant director and a UW Health physician.

Prior to her new position, Yancey was a career-pathways coordinator in the UW Health human resources department under a new workforce development initiative to promote health care careers.

Yancey took a different path to this position than her predecessors; both Arbuckle and Dr. Erik Brodt, NACHP founder and first director, were UW Health physicians.

That distinction between Yancey and her predecessors didn’t stop Arbuckle from approaching her about the position. However, she still had to go through the standard hiring process.

“I was certainly honored that she reached out to me,” Yancey said.

Another difference between Yancey and those who came before her at NACHP is the nature of the job itself, as the position had been a part-time commitment.

“There was definitely this advocacy for administrative support,” Yancey said.

It didn’t take Yancey long to make her mark on the program.

She has implemented the distinguished lecture series, worked to continue the partnership with the UW School of Nursing to recruit Native American nurses, made several media appearances on behalf of NACHP, and plans to reach out to Wisconsin tribes the center hasn’t partnered with yet.

If that weren’t enough, she recently received recognition outside the world of academia. She was chosen on behalf of NACHP for the 2017 Madison Magazine M List for Health Innovation.

Yancey graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and social welfare and a master’s degree in urban planning and development. She was born and raised on the Menominee Reservation northwest of Green Bay and has a career history of working with the Native American populations in the state.

She started her professional experience in 2005 at the UW-Madison PEOPLE Program where she initially worked with elementary and middle school students, and later managed the pre-college program that served 1,000 low-income students of color from urban areas in Wisconsin, and students from tribal communities.

Later, in her time with the program, she advised the assistant director and director on pre-college initiatives, and even developed a three-week curriculum focused on community and sustainable development topics for middle-school students in the Menominee Indian School District.

Yancey’s work with Native American populations grew when she joined the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in 2010 as a tribal-policy strategist and statewide tribal liaison.

In this role, she worked with the 11 federally recognized tribes of Wisconsin on issues such as labor and workforce development, business and economic development, transportation safety, cultural resources and historic preservation, and partnership building.

In 2016, she joined UW Health and got involved in training-program design; youth outreach and engagement to facilitate workshops centered on health care career exploration with the Health Occupations and Professions Exploration (HOPE) program for underrepresented youth; and initiating, developing and sustaining community partnerships. The work included designing and facilitating cultural awareness staff training focused on working with tribal communities of Wisconsin to enhance the organization’s engagement with the Native American population.

Yancey’s hiring coincides with a more noticeable physical presence for the Native American Center for Health Professions. Following the completion of the Health Sciences Learning Center enhancements in 2018, NACHP will be located prominently on the first floor within the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which will also move from its location on the fourth floor of the building.

Founded in 2012, the Native American Center for Health Professions serves all health professions, including the schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Veterinary Medicine. Its mission is to increase the number of Native American students in health professions and to help address the health disparities facing the roughly 86,000 people living in tribal communities in Wisconsin.