Transitions and Growth at First Nations
This month, First Nations announced that Raymond Foxworth, Ph.D., First Nations’ Vice President of Grantmaking, Development, and Communications, will be starting a new chapter in his career as the Program Director for Indigenous Knowledge for the Henry Luce Foundation. In this role, he will lead initiatives to support Native knowledge keepers who seek to preserve and perpetuate their nations’ cultures and cultural, intellectual, and policy systems.
Raymond’s position at the Luce Foundation increases Native leadership in the philanthropic sector and raises further awareness of and investment in the great work being done in Native communities. First Nations’ research documents philanthropy’s persistent underfunding of Native-led organizations and causes. Currently, only four-tenths of one percent (0.004%) of private foundation funding supports Native causes, with about half of this amount directed to organizations that may be Native-serving, but not Native-led.
First Nations’ research also documents that Native Americans are under-represented in the philanthropic sector and invisible in terms of serving on the board or on the staff of foundations. Today, there are only an estimated 35 to 40 Native American individuals working in philanthropy nationwide. Increasing the number of Native Americans serving in leadership positions at foundations is imperative to begin reversing the trend of negligible giving by philanthropy to Native-led organizations and causes.
We will miss Raymond and we are grateful for his 16 years of service and leadership, but we are excited for this new chapter and what it will mean for Native representation in philanthropy and the focus it can bring to Native-led organizations and causes.
And while Raymond’s departure is a big change for First Nations, we have the utmost confidence in our strong team of 40-plus staff and their ability and capacity to continue the important work of our organization.
New positions, new opportunities
With this transition, Jackie Francke (Navajo) will take on the role of Chief Operating Officer to assist with daily operations of the organization. A-dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa) has been promoted to Vice President of Policy and Research and the California Tribal Fund. Catherine Bryan (Navajo) has been promoted to Vice President of Grantmaking, Communications, and Administration. As members of the executive team of First Nations, Jackie, A-dae, and Catherine will help guide our 42-year-old organization in our mission to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities.
Jackie will continue to assist with managing the Stewarding Native Lands program. A-dae will continue overseeing the Nourishing Native Foods and Health program, and Catherine will continue overseeing First Nations’ Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions and Investing in Native Youth programs.
In addition to Jackie, A-dae and Catherine, several First Nations staff are being promoted to new roles, empowered with new responsibilities and avenues to contribute and lead.
The following staff members have a combined tenure of over 50 years at First Nations and have been promoted to new positions:
- Mary Adelzadeh (Navajo) – Director of Programs, Stewarding Native Lands
- Rebecca Tortes (Cahuilla, Luiseño, and Assiniboine Sioux) – Director, California Tribal Fund
- Abi Whiteing (Blackfeet) – Associate Director, Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions/Investing in Native Youth
- Jona Charette (Northern Cheyenne/Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) – Associate Director, Individual Giving
- Sarayl Shunkamolah (Navajo) – Associate Director, Institutional Development
- Richard Elm-Hill (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin) – Senior Program Officer, Nourishing Native Foods and Health
- Jacque Demko (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) – Senior Program Officer, Stewarding Native Lands
- Leiloni Begaye (Diné) – Lead Program Officer, Stewarding Native Lands
- Ethan Gallegos (Muscogee) – Lead Program Officer, Nourishing Native Foods and Health
- Autumn Romero (Chippewa Cree/Sicangu Lakota) – Program Officer, Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions/Investing in Native Youth
Each of these promotions is well-deserved, and we are excited to have these talented individuals not only serving on First Nations’ team, but also stepping up to accept new challenges.
In addition, three former staff members have recently or are rejoining First Nations’ team:
- Lindsay Stout – Administrator/Facilities Manager (February 2023)
- Marsha Whiting (Chippewa Cree/Sicangu Lakota) – Associate Director of Grantmaking (April 2023)
- Yadira Rivera – Associate Director, Nourishing Native Foods and Health (July 2023)
These changes will be reflected soon on our staff page. And we look forward to continuing to keep you informed as these and other leadership opportunities take hold.