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2021 Wisconsin Indian Education Association Indian Elder of the Year:
Dr. Lauren "Candy" Waukau-Villagomez


Dr. Waukau-Villagomez was born and raised on the Menominee Indian Reservation for most of her early life. Her stepfather, Mani Boyd, gave her her Spirit name, Ksksakaeh, meaning "the time just before dawn." Boyd, a huge influence in her life, taught her the importance of passing on traditional teachings and knowledge to others. Dr. Waukau-Villagomez says this is the focus of her life and why she is an educator. She models culturally responsive best practices for future educators as she mentors, supports, and challenges her students. Her experiences working on the Menominee Indian Reservation, the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservations, and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota have all impacted her worldview.


Dr. Waukau-Villagomez received a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Pre-School from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Science degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, a master’s degree in Special Education from D’Youville College, and her Doctorate in Educational Administration from Penn State.


Dr. Waukau-Villagomez has served in various capacities in education on and off the reservation such as home school coordinator, guidance counselor, principal, and Head Start Program supervisor.. In addition, she has worked in higher education and served as an assistant professor in education at D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York, and as a faculty member at the College of Menominee Nation in the Education program. Dr. Waukau-Villagomez demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to CMN’s teacher education students and her community.