March 22, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, March 22, 2012 – This Thursday, Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) departs for Portland for the fourth and final Gathering of the 2010/11 class of the Ambassadors Program. The Gathering will be co-hosted with Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and their Executive Director Nichole Maher, an Ambassadors Program alum.
AIO’s highly acclaimed Ambassadors Program is an Indigenous values-based, community capacity-building, leadership development initiative that launched in 1993 by Founder and President, LaDonna Harris (Comanche). The Program helps early to mid-career Native American professionals strengthen within an Indigenous cultural context, their ability to improve the well-being and growth of their communities.
During the course of the program, Ambassadors meet and work with leading Native decision-makers and national policymakers, explore family and tribal histories, develop and implement a community-based project, explore personal “medicine” or inner strength, and enhance communication skills. They attend gatherings in communities across the nation and visit at least one Indigenous community outside the United States.
At the final Gathering, focused on the tribe or community, the 2010/11 Ambassadors will be joined by Program advisors/elders and Ambassador alumni. Together, the inter-generational group will work with the Ambassadors to identify pathways for incorporating the lessons learned and experiences from the Ambassadors Program into the participants’ own approaches to leadership, current community work and within the environment of their own community. The Ambassador alumni will also hold the first meeting of AIO’s 2012 Train-the-Trainers class. As part of the Ambassadors Program Regeneration Initiative, the alumni will begin to build curriculum and identify ways to replicate the success of the Ambassadors Program within local or regional tribal communities.
While in Portland, the 2010/11 Ambassadors will spend a week discussing the unique challenges facing Indigenous leaders, methods for overcoming barriers, and actively engage in innovative problem-solving processes. The fourth Gathering is usually hosted by a successfully governed tribe or a self-determined tribal community (either rural or urban) where they visit and learn more about how the community has achieved success.
“It’s important for young, emerging Native American leaders to observe and learn from a successful Native community,” said Laura Harris, Executive Director of AIO. “We’re excited to visit NAYA and see their successes first-hand.”
The Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, Oregon, co-hosts for the Gathering, works to enrich the lives of Native youth and families through education, community involvement, and culturally specific programming. They have provided educational services, cultural arts programming, and direct support to reduce poverty to the Portland metropolitan area's American Indian and Alaska Native community for over 30 years.
The Gathering begins Saturday, March 24, 2012 and ends on Friday, March 30, 2012. To learn more about the Ambassadors Program, or to donate to AIO, visit www.aio.org.