News Release

Chief Seattle Club

Effective May 25, Derrick Belgarde will serve as Chief Seattle Club’s executive director. Belgarde is stepping into the role after former executive director, Colleen Echohawk, stepped down to focus on her campaign for Mayor of Seattle.

“I couldn’t feel more confident about the organization’s future knowing that Derrick will be leading,” said Echohawk. “Any success the organization has seen over recent years wouldn’t have been possible without him. The bond he has with our members because of his time living on the streets, and his passion for meeting the needs of our diverse population, have been integral. His lived experience has always made the organization stronger. He is the embodiment of Chief Seattle Club and the community we serve.”

Echohawk will continue to serve as an advisor to Chief Seattle Club.

Belgarde has been the deputy director for four years and has worked alongside Echohawk to oversee the organization’s day center, economic and cultural programs, and housing and advocacy efforts. He is Siletz and Chippewa-Cree, and was formerly a member of the Chief Seattle Club before becoming an employee.

“My goal will continue to be providing culturally appropriate services and advocating for increased funding that focuses on equity,” said Belgarde. “Our unhoused urban Indian population sees better and lasting outcomes when they are served by members of their own community. Chief Seattle Club will remain a place where our relatives can get the support and shelter they deserve.”

Since 2014, Chief Seattle Club has seen a more than 3,300% increase in its operating budget, which has grown from $500,000 to more than $17 million today. And through the organization’s advocacy efforts and partnerships, it is now overseeing $186 million in current and future housing projects. 

“The Board has full confidence in Derrick’s ability to lead Chief Seattle Club into the next phase of the organization’s growth,” said Annie Kirk, Chief Seattle Club Board President. “His deep history with the organization, leadership in our housing development projects, and passion for our relatives, are just what we need to tackle the challenges ahead.”

During his tenure, Belgarde has overseen the ?al?al development of 80 housing units, a traditional foods social enterprise café, and a clinic run in partnership with the Seattle Indian Health Board. Sacred Medicine House, opening in fall of 2022, will provide 120 units of permanent supportive housing. Chief Seattle Club is partnering with Bellwether Housing to develop 200 units of affordable housing and a Coast Salish Longhouse at the North Seattle College campus. Recently, Chief Seattle Club partnered with the City of Seattle to provide 58 shelter rooms at Kings Inn Motel for the most vulnerable and chronically homeless.

“The pandemic has only increased challenges for our Native homeless population, and there’s a lot of work ahead,” said Belgarde. “Any one of our relatives living on the streets is a dire emergency. We have no time to waste in increasing the supply of shelter and permanent housing in our city.” 

About Derrick Belgarde

Derrick Belgarde is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, and also Chippewa-Cree from Rocky Boy Montana. He serves on the board of Capitol Hill Housing, Downtown Emergency Service Center, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, and the Washington State Affordable Housing Advisory Board. He completed his undergraduate in Public Affairs Magna Cum Laude, and holds a Master’s in Public Administration, from Seattle University. 

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