Kimberly Christen honored with the 2024 WSU Woman of the Year award

Kimberly Christen, associate vice president for Research Advancement and Partnerships, was honored with the 2024 WSU Woman of the Year award, presented during National Women’s History Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of women to the academic and local communities, society, and the lives of women.

“I am truly honored to be recognized by WSU and President Kirk Schulz,” said Christen. “Throughout my career I have worked in collaboration with Indigenous, Native American and First Nations communities to use technology in culturally responsive and respectful ways, it is gratifying to see this being recognized as central to the research enterprise and WSU’s land grant mission.”

The award was presented to Christen during an awards ceremony on Thursday, March 21. The awards recognize teachers and scholars, staff and advisors, students and alumni, administrators and regents, and volunteers and friends that have made an impact to WSU.

Recipients are considered if they distinguished themselves in academic work, career, leadership, or public service; have contributed to the personal growth and success of others, especially women, through education, research, or public volunteer service beyond expected job responsibilities; or have created positive social change, increased equality for all, and helped build community through service.

“Kim Christen’s work as an internationally known scholar and leader at WSU has been innovative and effective at every turn,” Anna Plemons, associate vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at Washington State University Tri-Cities said in her nomination letter. “While maintaining a robust research agenda, Christen has also held administrative leadership positions at WSU with increasing responsibility. She has brought strategic, equity-oriented leadership and a focus on interdisciplinarity to each of these positions resulting in significant growth for every program.”

Christen is the founder of Mukurtu CMS, an open-source software platform designed with Indigenous communities globally to meet their unique information, curatorial, and data sovereignty needs. She is a co-director of Local Contexts, a global initiative to provide digital tools and legal frameworks for stewarding digital cultural heritage and the management of intellectual property by Indigenous communities. Her research and scholarship explore the intersections data management, software systems, and information ethics specifically addressing issues of access, use and reuse of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge in global network.

“Kim is known for her steadfast commitment to identifying and addressing inequity at WSU and in society,” Lisa Guerrero, vice chancellor of Equity and Inclusive Excellence at WSU Pullman said in her nomination letter. “As inaugural chair of the Department of Digital Technologies and Culture, she was tireless in her efforts to build a dynamic and relevant department that reflected current issues shaping social uses and potentials of digital technologies. Of utmost importance in that work was being critically attentive in curricular offerings and approaches to the inequities of technological access and applications especially in relation to racial, cultural, and gendered biases.”

Her work has been published widely in international journals and she has been the PI on more than 15 federal and private foundation grants. Christen collaborates broadly emphasizing community-engaged research including working closely with Native American nations across Washington state and nationally, as well as with Indigenous communities globally to build digital tools and networks as catalysts for social change.

Christen assumed the role of associate vice president for Research Advancement and Partnerships in 2023. She is also a professor in the Department of Digital Technology and Culture, and was the founding director of the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation at WSU.