Denise Juneau

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Denise Juneau
Denise Juneau, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction 5.3.2010.jpg
Superintendent of Public Instruction of Montana
In office
January 5, 2009 – January 2, 2017
Preceded byLinda McCulloch
Succeeded byElsie Arntzen
Personal details
Born (1967-04-05) April 5, 1967 (age 51)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceHelena, Montana
Alma materMontana State University (B.A.)
Harvard University (M.Ed.)
University of Montana (J.D.)
Professionsuperintendent of Seattle public schools (effective July 1, 2018) Teacher and attorney

Denise Juneau (born April 5, 1967)[1] (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Montana, who served as the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2009 to 2017.[2] She is a Democrat and the first female Native American elected to statewide office in Montana.[3][4] She is a descendant of the Blackfeet Tribe.[5]

On November 4, 2015, Juneau announced her candidacy for the United States House of Representatives in the 2016 congressional election.[6] Juneau was defeated by incumbent Republican Ryan Zinke in the 2016 general election.

Early life and education[edit]

Denise Juneau was born on April 5, 1967, in Oakland, California, to parents Stan and Carol Juneau.[1] Her family moved to Montana in 1969. Juneau graduated in 1985 from Browning High School in Browning, Montana, which is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.[1]

Juneau received a bachelor's degree in English from Montana State University in 1993. In 1994, she completed her Master of Education Degree at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She took course work toward a doctorate at the University of New Mexico in 1997 and 1998. Juneau shifted her career path, attending the University of Montana Law School and completing her J.D. in 2004.[1]

Early career[edit]

Juneau was on the educational support staff of Browning, Montana schools from 1986 through 1988. She was a high school teacher in New Town, North Dakota, within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, from 1994 through 1995, and in Browning, Montana, from 1995 through 1997.[1]

Juneau was an instructional specialist at the Montana Office of Public Instruction under Superintendent Nancy Keenan from 1998 through 2001. While at the Montana Office of Public Instruction, Juneau served as Director of Indian Education, where she oversaw the implementation of Montana's constitutionally mandated Indian Education For All program. It was designed to deliver education in the public schools on Montana's American Indian heritage.[7][8]

Juneau was a law clerk at the Montana Supreme Court for justices Jim Regnier and Brian Morris from 2004 through 2005. She worked as an associate attorney for the law firm Monteau and Peebles from 2005 to 2006. From 2006 through 2008, she was a division administrator at the Office of Public Instruction under Superintendent Linda McCulloch.[1] In 2009, Juneau was named Educator of the Year by the National Indian Education Association.[4][5]

Political campaigns[edit]

In 2008, Juneau ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction. She won a four-way Democratic primary in June.[9] In the November general election, the final vote tally was 234,483 for Juneau (51%), 201,091 (43.7%) for her GOP opponent, Elaine Sollie Herman, and 24,236 (5.3%) for Libertarian candidate Donald Eisenmenger.[10] She was the first American Indian woman to win a statewide office.

In 2012, Juneau ran for re-election against Republican Sandy Welch. Juneau was narrowly re-elected, receiving 235,397 votes to Welch's 233,166 votes.[11] Due to term limits, Juneau was ineligible to run again in 2016.[12]

Juneau was named as a possible candidate for US Senator Max Baucus's (D-Montana) seat, which was vacated upon his retirement in 2014. On August 5, 2013, she announced that she would not run for the Senate.[13]

On November 4, 2015, Juneau announced her candidacy for Montana's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.[14] As of November 1, 2016, she ranked 6th in the country for congressional candidates raising money from donors giving $200 or less.[15] Juneau was defeated by incumbent Republican Representative Ryan Zinke in the general election. Juneau won 40% of the vote.[16]

Tenure as State Superintendent of Public Instruction[edit]

Since Juneau took office in 2009, she reported that Montana's graduation rate increased 4.7 percent, while the dropout rate decreased 1.3 percent since the state had started tracking these numbers in 2000.[17] Juneau oversaw the development of Montana's "Schools of Promise Initiative", an $11.5 million, three-year project which used federal grant money "to help teachers' union leaders, school board officials, and administrators attempt to address students' academic and social-emotional needs in some of the state's most disadvantaged schools." The academic results of that program have been mixed.[18][19]

Juneau gave a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in which she praised U.S. President Barack Obama's education policy.[19]

In 2015, Juneau was awarded the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.[20] She also received the National Education Association's 2015 Leo Reano Memorial Award.[21]

Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools[edit]

In April 2018, Seattle Public Schools board unanimously voted to elect Denise Juneau as the next superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. She began on July 1, 2018.

Personal life[edit]

Juneau is an enrolled member of the federally recognized Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. She also has Blackfeet ancestry.

She is openly gay and the first such candidate to run for federal office in Montana.[22] In November 2015, Juneau confirmed she had twice been arrested while a college student for driving under the influence.[23]

Electoral history[edit]

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Democratic Primary Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Denise Juneau 54,031 37.54
Democratic Holly Raser 35,636 24.76
Democratic Sam Kitzenberg 30,207 20.98
Democratic Claudette Morton 24,074 16.72
Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Denise Juneau 234,483 51.00
Republican Elaine Sollie Herman 201,091 43.73
Libertarian Donald Eisenmenger 24,236 5.27
Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Denise Juneau (inc.) 235,397 50.24
Republican Sandy Welch 233,166 49.76


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Denise Juneau bio". The Missoulian. January 24, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Cates-Carney, Corin (March 10, 2016). "Juneau Discusses 'Campaign Of Firsts'". Montana Public Radio. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  3. ^ McKee, Jennifer (January 4, 2009). "Montana under new management". Montana Standard. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Missoulian State Bureau (September 11, 2009). "Denise Juneau, Joe Medicine Crow named educator, elder of the year". Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Publisher. "NIEA names Denise Juneau Indian Educator of the Year". Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  6. ^ "Denise Juneau launches campaign for Montana's U.S. House seat". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  7. ^ Rob Chaney Missoulian (December 30, 2008). "Native stories, our stories: Agency to design Indian education". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  8. ^ Rob Chaney (December 7, 2008). "Teachers look to get Indian info into classroom". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  9. ^ Charles S. Johnson (June 19, 2008). "Differences come to fore in OPI race". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  10. ^ 2008 Statewide General Election Canvass. Montana Secretary of State
  11. ^ "2012 Statewide General Election Results" (PDF). Montana Secretary of State. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  12. ^ Dennison, Mike (November 4, 2015). "Democrat Denise Juneau challenged Zinke for Montana's Congressional seat". KRTV. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  13. ^ Capriccioso, Rob. "Denise Juneau Says No to US Senate Run in Montana". Indian Country. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  14. ^ "Democrat Denise Juneau will challenge Zinke for Montana's Congressional seat". Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Mark Trahant, "Native Americans for Trump, Renewable Energy & Curiosity", Indian Country Today, November 1, 2016; accessed November 2, 2016
  16. ^ "Election 2016 Results: Bullock Re-elected Governor, Zinke Cruises". Flathead Beacon. November 8, 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  17. ^ Deedy, Alexander (January 13, 2015). "[UPDATED] Montana Graduation Rate Hits All-Time High". Helena Independent Record.
  18. ^ Yager, Sarah (March 23, 2012). "Making New Promises in Indian Country". The Atlantic.
  19. ^ a b Ujifusa, Andrew (November 4, 2015). "Montana Chief Denise Juneau Announces Run for Congress". Education Week. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  20. ^ "Juneau to Receive Alumni Council Award". Harvard Graduate School of Education. Harvard University. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "NEA" (PDF).
  22. ^ "U.S. House hopeful Juneau is Montana's first openly gay candidate for federal office". KTVQ. February 3, 2016.
  23. ^ Cates, Kristen (November 16, 2015). "Juneau Confirms 2 DUI Arrests In College". Great Falls Tribune.

External links[edit]