Chief Don Stevens ’91, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa

Don Stevens, Chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation, is a respected and award-winning leader, activist, businessman, artisan, educator, environmentalist, writer, and lecturer. He has been instrumental in raising awareness of the rich heritage of the Abenaki and other native nations, and has been committed to engaging students and others in dialogue and education around the importance of history in our current understanding of identity and community. 

Stevens was appointed to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs by Governor Douglas in 2006 for two terms, serving as Chair in his second term. He was the guiding force in the effort to gain legal recognition for the Abenaki People by the state of Vermont, and in securing tribal lands for the Nulhegan Band. Stevens continues to work with the federal, state and local government, other institutions, and other Indian nations to represent Abenaki viewpoints. 

Recently, Stevens has worked with the Vermont legislature on a bill to grant free and permanent hunting and fishing licenses to Vermont’s recognized Native American tribes, and on a resolution to offer an official state apology to those harmed by state-sanctioned eugenics sterilizations. He created an exhibition at Burlington International Airport of Abenaki artifacts, history, and memorabilia, and he is working with the City of Burlington to create an annual event that educates the public about the Abenaki people and their culture.

Stevens has over 27 years of experience in successfully developing information technology, logistics, and manufacturing strategies for multi-million dollar companies and currently works as an IT manager for the Counseling Service of Addison County. Stevens proudly served in the US Army. He currently serves on many state boards and advisory panels including the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Advisory Panel, Attorney General’s Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel, and the Vermont State Police Fair and Impartial Policing Committee.

Stevens graduated from Champlain College in 1991 with a degree in Computer Information Systems, received a master’s degree in Leadership for Sustainability from the University of Vermont, and has a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Middlebury College.  

Stevens lives in Vermont with his wife Diane, who is a physical therapist at the UVM Medical Center. They have six children and seven grandchildren. 

Photo credit: Stevens with his grandson Shadow. Photo by Don Whipple, Seven Days VT.

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