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September 13, 2023

CIO and Director for Office of IHS in Oklahoma receives national recognition

WGU Names Mitchell Thornbrugh as 2023 Distinguished Graduate

FORT GIBSON, OK (August 23, 2023) – Western Governors University (WGU), has named Mitchell Thornbrugh a recipient of the school’s Distinguished Graduate Award. Thornbrugh is one of only 15 alumni selected nationwide this year to receive the award. WGU, the online nonprofit university, has more than 2,000 graduates across Oklahoma, and more than 336,000 nationwide. 

Thornbrugh, who resides in Fort Gibson, is chief information officer and director for the Office of Information for the Indian Health Service. IHS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal healthcare advocate and provider serving nearly 2.7 million Native Americans in 37 states nationwide. He is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. He received the I.T. Eagle Award for contributing to Georgia-Pacific during his tenure in their I.T. group. In 2018, he received the Executive Directors Financial Pillar Award from Cherokee Nation Health Services. Thornbrugh was recognized as one of the 2023 FedHealthIT 100 leaders driving change and advancement within the federal health IT community.

“I was humbled to be considered for this honor,” said Thornbrugh. “This award represents an opportunity to highlight the investment in lifelong learning and education, and I want to set a good example for my family and younger generations that it can lead to a successful and meaningful career,” he said. “My family received care from the hospital where I worked, and it was an opportunity to give back to the community. It had a personal impact on my life, and my work has been a way to positively impact thousands of people by improving healthcare systems.”

Thornbrugh advises senior IHS leadership on information resource management and technology aspects, ensuring IHS compliance with information technology laws, regulations, and policies. OIT also participates in cross-government initiatives and collaborates with federal, tribal, state, and other partners to serve Native Americans.

He previously served as the chief operations officer for the Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital. There, he streamlined administrative services, improved inventory management, and led the implementation of a commercial electronic health record. He earned his B.S. in Business Healthcare Management and MBA in Healthcare Management from WGU.

“WGU Distinguished Graduates are selected for their exceptional work and efforts to go above and beyond, making significant impacts in their communities and careers,” said Linda Battles, Regional Vice President for WGU. “I congratulate Mitchell on his contributions to Native American communities and this major accomplishment as he was selected from among nearly 300 nominations this year. That is truly a remarkable achievement.”

You can read more about Thornbrugh’s motivational journey on the alumni awards page at For additional information about Western Governors University, visit

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