2024 Distinguished Service Award

Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Dana Whitelaw

Dana Whitelaw, executive director of the High Desert Museum, will receive the Distinguished Service Award at Oregon State University – Cascades’ 23rd Commencement Ceremony.

The award honors individuals, businesses or organizations that have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, the state of Oregon or the world.

During Dana’s 16-year career at the High Desert Museum, including the last decade serving as its executive director, she has dedicated her leadership to the founder’s vision for the institution. She has helped create a national and regional treasure, inspiring countless visitors and area residents to deepen their appreciation for the history, culture, people, diverse voices, and flora and fauna found in our high deserts.

Under Dana’s leadership, the High Desert Museum was named a Smithsonian Affiliate, has experienced record attendance and earned the prestigious 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The medal recognizes museums with exceptional commitment and contributions to their community. The museum also received the 2019 Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence. 

Born and raised in Oregon, Dana received a doctorate in biological anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She serves on the boards of the Western Museums Association, the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon, Visit Central Oregon and Art in Public Places.


Portrait of Dana Whitelaw wearing a blur scarf with trees in the background.