15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Julia (Bunny) Jaakola exemplifies the commitment and dedication needed to improve the lives of American Indian children and families locally and nationally. Throughout her long career, she has done much to push to the forefront the needs of American Indian children and families, which are represented disproportionately in the child welfare system.
Ms. Jaakola helped to lead the 11 Federally-recognized American Indian Tribes in Minnesota in negotiating a model Tribal/State Agreement regarding the implementation of the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act. The Tribal/State Agreement plays a critical role in consistent application of the laws designed to protect and keep Indian families together. Aware of few such Tribal/State Agreements nationally, Ms. Jaakola's leadership and diplomacy proved a source of strength and support in this unprecedented collaboration between the State of Minnesota and the 11 American Indian Tribes within Minnesota's border.
An enrolled member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and for many years the Social Services Director for Fond du Lac, Ms. Jaakola was the first person to chair the Minnesota Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council. She served as the Chair of the Council for over 14 years and recently was honored at Minnesota's Tribal State Conference, Keeping Families Together: Safety, Permanence, and Well-Being. Other awards and recognition Ms. Jaakola has received include: the Indian Health Service Area Director's Award for Managerial Excellence, a nomination for Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association, and the 1996 Honoring Nations Award from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.