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Hollie Mackey, Ph.D., Named FARMS CEO

When you meet Hollie Mackey, Ph.D., you can tell right away that she’s a force--in the best sense of the phrase. She has a presence of depth and wisdom, and throughout her career has more than earned the respect due her. Her extensive and impressive biography includes a Presidential Appointee position in 2022, serving as Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities. As an experienced policy consultant, public speaker, program evaluator, and community educator, she has worked tirelessly to bridge theory and practice as a means of addressing complex social issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. 


She joined the North Dakota team pursuing the National Science Foundation cooperative award in December 2022 and

was instrumental in ensuring the FARMS proposal recognized centuries-old Tribal agricultural expertise. That component was a key element in securing the award.


And now comes a role of enormous opportunity that embodies collaboration in a deep and meaningful way as CEO of FARMS. This new entity has multiple roles and goals. It is meant to tap into and expand existing networks and strengths in North Dakota, and offer a platform for new ideas, entrepreneurs, and businesses with the outcome to feed the world. The five core partners – EDC, Chamber, ND Tribal College System, Grand Farm and NDSU – are so sure they can deliver on the promise that they chose as the domain.


It's a challenging entity to describe. It’s deep and wide and ambitious, complex, and most of all inclusive. It’s about science and technology helping farmers produce more nutritious and higher yielding crops, and it’s about rediscovering and redeploying ancestral crops. It’s a project where more voices will be full players. It’s economic development that’ll draw investors and inventors, and it’s a workforce play that will create more and better jobs for more and more people. Truly an ecosystem, pardon what sounds like a cliché. Every part is dependent on the rest of the parts to thrive together.


Dr. Mackey articulates the whole thing beautifully. She can draw back and give you the broadest overview, or dive all the way into, say, research around crop sensors and exactly how this gets from a big idea to a real outcome, in as much or as little detail as the occasion requires.


The award has potential funding over 10 years, and Dr. Mackey’s vision for the accomplishments that can be listed over those 10 years includes not only AgTech advancements and progress toward feeding the world. “True success is an equitable distribution of resources and respect for knowledge,” she says. “Cross cultural understanding will be baked into what we do, a truly inclusive ecosystem”


Dr. Mackey earned her Bachelor’s and Master's of Science in Public Relations at Montana State University-Billings, Master's of Legal Studies in Indigenous People’s Law at the University of Oklahoma, and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.  Dr. Mackey’s academic scholarship has examined the effects of structural inequity in Indigenous and other marginalized populations in educational leadership and public policy using multiple frameworks and methodologies. She is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne nation. 


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