photos by Mel Ponder and Chantel Baker
The Native Women's Leadership Forum is an annual event full of workshops, breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and panels. The Forum is designed with our mission in mind and encourages participants to make a positive impact in their community. Each year, the Forum takes a new theme, and with it new educational and training opportunities. Participants include Native women (and men!) from across the state and from many different tribal backgrounds. Feedback tells us that participants leave feeling empowered, recharged, and renewed. As part of the Forum, we host a special luncheon to celebrate the year's Enduring Spirit Award honorees.
Enduring Spirit Awards
The Enduring Spirit Award recognizes the lifetime achievements of Native women who through their commitment of time, energy, and volunteerism contribute to healthy communities. The issues they champion are varied and include: environment, education, youth and family, holistic health (mind, body, spirit), continuation and retention of culture, preservation of treaty rights, sacred sites, and economic empowerment to name a few.
Native Action Network’s Young Native Women’s Leadership Academy prepares the next generation of women Native leaders by combining cultural values with modern tools and services. Young women who are seniors in high school through their final year in college are invited to apply, and receive lodging, meals, materials, and two intensive days of training at no cost. Through key presentations combined with hands on team activities, young women leave transformed, empowered, and prepared to make a positive difference in their communities.
Designed for emerging professionals, the Legacy of Leadership Cohort nurtures the next generation of community leaders and advocates that serve the Native population of King County, Washington. The program brings together a group of individuals to complete one-year of monthly leadership training sessions addressing issues and topics relevant to the urban Native population. Participants engage in activities intended to strengthen their leadership skills while expanding knowledge and networks. Cohort members work within an assigned group to create a project intended to benefit the Native community, and are paired with a mentor to assist them with their project development and outcomes.
Native Action Network is partnering with Washington Nonprofits to offer a series of six workshops for staff and board members working with Native organizations. These courses are for anyone interested in serving their community and supporting the growth of our organizations. Courses are taught by instructors well-immersed in the nonprofit world, and NAN is working to strengthen community capacity by training a group of Native women participants to be instructors next year. Scholarships are provided for those that would like to attend these training sessions at no charge.
As an extension of the annual forum, NAN introduced a new series of Leadership Luncheons in 2020. The luncheons create an opportunity to continue networking with fellow Native women and colleagues close to home, in South King County, Washington. Lunch is complimentary and new guest speakers present at each gathering.
Election Watch Party
In early November 2016, Native Action Network invited political junkies, civic participants, community friends and families together for an evening gathering at the Westin. Together, we visited and watched the election results come in from across the country.
Sisters in Spirit Candlelight Vigil
Each year on October 4, communities across the world come together to honor the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. As we do so, we remember the lives of sisters, daughters, mothers and grandmothers tragically taken from us. Each candle is a beacon of hope and strength. In 2019, Native Action Network hosted one of three Sisters in Spirit Candlelight Vigils held in the U.S., in Pioneer Square, Seattle.