Valeria Atanacio serves as the Tribal Affairs Director within Oregon’s Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) forming the agency’s Office of Tribal Affairs and leading the co-creation of the Tribal Early Learning Alliance alongside tribal leaders from each of the nine federally recognized tribal nations within Oregon’s borders. She is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde with ancestral ties to the Shoshone-Banook, Chinook, Northern Ute, Umpqua, and Tututni tribal bands.
As the first tribal dedicated position within the organization, she has grown this role to be the primary liaison on tribal issues concerning early childhood education. Ms. Atanacio is committed to solving the unique problems of practice facing tribal communities, establishing pathways for true tribal consultation, and uplifting the great work of our tribal nations so they can continue to share their stories.
Ms. Atanacio hopes to ensure that tribal children have access to high-quality early learning experiences that affirm and celebrate their identities and the State’s childcare rules, policies, and implementation are responsive to the cultural needs of tribal children and families. Ms. Atanacio is a current adjunct instructor in the department of curriculum and instruction at Portland State University (PSU) and serves as an advisory board member with PSU’s Indigenous First Steps Project, creating the universities first early childhood education certificate and scholarship focused on Indigenous ways of knowing. She is on the Oregon Safe Sleep Coalition tackling policy related to the traditional use of cradleboards in childcare settings and serves her own tribal community as co-chairwoman to the Grand Ronde Education Committee.
Ms. Atanacio holds a master’s degree in Inclusive Early Childhood Education and Graduate Certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health from Portland State University; Ms. Atanacio is bilingual in English and Spanish and learning her Native language Chinuk Wawa and Darija Arabic.