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April 24, 2024
Angelique Albert
Fighting for Education Equality for Native American Scholars, with Native Forward CEO Angelique Albert

Fighting for Education Equality for Native American Scholars, with Native Forward CEO Angelique Albert

Show Notes:

In this episode of Cause and Purpose, we delve into the critical topic of education equality for Native American scholars with Angelique Albert, the CEO of Native Forward. Angelique is a passionate advocate for Indigenous education, and she shares her insights and experiences in striving for a more equitable educational landscape for Native American communities.

Episode Highlights:

  • Understanding the Challenges: Angelique sheds light on the systemic barriers and challenges faced by Native American students in accessing quality education. From limited resources to cultural insensitivity, she highlights the multifaceted nature of the issue.
  • The Role of Native Forward: As the CEO of Native Forward, Angelique discusses the mission and initiatives of the organization in advocating for education equality. She emphasizes the importance of community involvement and empowerment in driving positive change.
  • Cultural Relevance in Education: Angelique underscores the significance of incorporating Indigenous culture, language, and history into educational curricula. By recognizing and respecting Native American heritage, schools can create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.
  • Collaborative Solutions: Through partnerships with schools, policymakers, and Indigenous communities, Angelique explores collaborative approaches to address the disparities in education. She emphasizes the need for collective action and solidarity in advocating for Native American students' rights.
  • Empowering Indigenous Voices: Angelique shares inspiring stories of Native American scholars who have overcome obstacles and made significant contributions to their communities. She highlights the resilience and strength of Indigenous youth in pursuing their educational goals.

Tune in to this enlightening conversation as we explore the importance of fighting for education equality for Native American scholars and the transformative impact it can have on Indigenous communities.

For more information about Angelique Albert and Native Forward, visit Native Forward's website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Stay updated on the latest episodes of Cause and Purpose by subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform. Join the conversation on social media using #CauseAndPurposePodcast.

Special Thanks:

This episode would not have been possible without the amazing team at Bryson Gillette. Bryson Gillette is a California and Washington, D.C.-based, minority-owned, intentionally diverse strategic communications and public affairs firm dedicated to serving the needs of its clients and delivering results. We are a mission-driven organization that partners with organizations, companies, candidates, and individuals fighting to make the world more just, safe, healthy, and prosperous for all. Click here to learn more.

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Angelique Albert: [00:00:00] in this country visibility, invisibility,erasure of our story, the story that we've been told, is not necessarily truestory, right?

We're seen as thesehistorical people. Stoic beings or that we all Died that we were all killed off

and so I think there's just a different starting point but it'snice to see more visibility for us as Native people, because as we gainvisibility, there's a broader understanding. So it is nice to know that, thereare some funders who have been committed to Indian country for years and it'snice to enter those conversations at a different level.

Mike Spear: Welcome to cause and purpose, the show about theleaders, innovators, and change agents working on the front lines to solve someof the world's greatest social challenges. I'm Mike Spear and our guest todayis the CEO of native forward. Angelique [00:01:00]Albert native forward fund scholarships for native American students pursuinghigher education over the course of its 50 year history, they providedscholarships for more than 22, 000 students.

From more than 500 tribes across all 50 states, Angeliqueherself is a lifelong learner and has had quite the fascinating career path onroute to taking the reigns of Native forward.

We talk about our upbringing, the unique context in whichNative Americans are living today. And uncover some great insights and lessonslearned from growing a national nonprofit organization and engaging with bigphilanthropy.

Hope you enjoy.

Mike Spear: Angeliqueso great to have you on the show. Thank you very much for joining us

Angelique Albert: somuch for having me.

Mike Spear: I'm socurious, you grew up on the Flathead reservation in, in Montana, which I haveto imagine as a very different experience than most People in the UnitedStates, experience when they grew up I'm so interested in what that was like.

How was your childhood? What was your family like? And what wasit like growing up in, in such a place, especially in some of the differencesfrom [00:02:00] what most of us mightexperience.

Angelique Albert: Forme, growing up on the Flathead Indian Reservation was that's home. every time Ileave home, I miss it because there's so much natural beauty you're surroundedby the Rocky Mountains and Flathead Lake and lots of trees. And it's just Oneof the most pristine places that I've ever been in my life.

And um, our tribal leadership puts a lot of emphasis on naturalresources and making sure that we take care of them. And so I feel like that'sa priority and you feel it, when you enter the reservation you know, you comeup over a hill and you just see this beautiful mountain range.

And, First and foremost, it is that it's natural beauty andjust surrounded the environment. And for me, there's also a sense of thatconnection to tribe and that connection to place. I had a split family. I wasraised by my mother and I had two brothers on my mom's side of the [00:03:00] family.

And then on my dad's side of the family, I have three brothersand a sister. So I got to share time between my mother and my father's home.And I think that, there's a preconceived notion of what it's like on areservation, but reservations across this country are all different unique.

And for ours I would say that you wouldn't necessarily knowthat you're going on a reservation. But we have 3 million acres. So it's,pretty vast. And uh, because of our reservation being open to homesteading in1910, it is diverse.

So we have a lot of different people living there. But I wouldsay I grew up close to my culture, close to my language. We have powwows andthe tribal college is a local kind of community spot where there's events goingon all of the time.

it's very rural living.

Mike Spear: wasfortunate enough to spend some time maybe 20 years ago way up North inside theArctic circle, Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan kind of on the border [00:04:00] there in Yellowknife territory. One of thethings that really struck me about spending time with the folks who live thereis the sense of community.

The leadership structure, extremely democratic, the chiefsthere at least were elected, which I was very surprised by. coming in somewhatnaive, I think. And I remember distinctly towards the end of our trip, one ofthe gentlemen that we were, Working with while I was up there, went out in hisspeed boat and went fishing and he came back in and he had this huge pile offish and sort of a call went out to the entire community.

I forgot his name. I apologize to him, so and so just came backfrom this fishing trip. He's got a bounty. Come get your fish. And there wasthis incredible sense of sharing and communal action there. Did you experiencesome of the same things or is that sort of unique, tribe by tribe and region byregion?

Angelique Albert: Itis unique tribe by tribe, but some of the cultural values are similar andthat's what you're speaking to the sense of community and that connection tocommunity and making sure that we're not. As individualistic as maybe most ofsociety, we think [00:05:00] communally and wethink of the well being of all of our members.

So I think that's something that you'll see across manydifferent tribes. And then that political structure, you know, we've alwayshad, political structures in place and, and they are very democratic andinclusive. And, And those are type of things that I do bring into my workspacewhen I work And that's different for some people who haven't worked in a tribalcommunity.

I've worked in tribal communities and outside, and it issignificantly different. There's a sense of debate and hierarchy. And when yougo into maybe more of the corporate world, but for tribal communities, there'salways a sense of diplomacy and inclusiveness.

And it's about the relationship. And it's about buildingsomething together. so that is something that you'll see on on my reservationas well. I think that and most tribes that you think of the holistic impact. SoI would say that is similar to the way I grew up, just Based on the valuesystem, we do [00:06:00] elect, our triballeaders and something else that you'll see that's different to some tribes andsimilar to other tribes is that we have matrilineal uh, families as well aspatrilineal, and so we have very strong women leaders and I always have.

So I've, I'm thankful that I've been able to see that growingup. and then in regards to fishing and hunting and those things you definitelysee that shared sense of, making sure that we take care of our elders. Ifyou're getting bison, we have programs established to make sure that our eldersare getting food.

And so there is that sense of, community and making sure thatwe take care of one another.

Mike Spear: I'mcurious to know more about. Your family you mentioned coming from a split homeand getting to spend time with both of your parents together and's always interesting to me to get that background, especially as to how itinspired you towards social impact work.

Angelique Albert: Ohmy goodness. I will say that I'm [00:07:00]thankful that my mother and father were split because they're so different. Ican't imagine them together. My mother is this very strong, independent womanwho is, very tied to culture and customs. and then my father is the. morenurturing one.

He's, you know, an environmentalist and loves animals and, histhing is daily to get up and see all the birds that are out also, I grew up in,very humble beginnings, so on both sides of the family. There were struggleswith financial stuff.

And I think that inform my life path and seeing inequities as achild and seeing challenges and struggles, I guess, in my early life, I justreally wanted to see safe spaces. For kids and then as I grew up, think thatkind of transitioned into wanting to create opportunities and that just turnedinto a drive and passion for even more more in life.

But but I think that my, my younger [00:08:00]life I didn't feel like I grew up poor. I don't think anyone ever does. Right.But also I did recognize that maybe my life was a little bit different thanothers, but also I grew up with two brothers who had a muscular dystrophy.

So there was a sense of Taking extra care of people, and makingsure that our our children just had what they needed.

Mike Spear: You'vehad a very interesting career path and we will dive into this a little bitlater further, but the criminal justice system, in the casino culture andimpact work, obviously. You're quite a celebrated artist from what Iunderstand.

Angelique Albert: Oh,yes. That was one of the things that is just a part of what you do. You growup, you do beadwork, you go to powwows, you dance. And the artwork is justmostly about. Keeping the culture alive and making sure that we carry on thosetraditions. But I did at a young age, start doing that professionally tosupport my family and then [00:09:00] startedgetting into the art world and winning awards.

And then I, I started showing at Santa Fe Indian Market andI've won a best of show there. I've won, you Blue ribbons and, and that wasquite a while ago. I stopped doing that for a while. Professionally, Idefinitely do it on the side and I still make cornelia and do artwork. But Ithink that that's something that I will do forever and pass on to my kids.

My kids do beadwork as well. And now my grandsons are startingto. And so I think that's something that we all do, whether it's beadworkBasket making through quill work or natural weavings or regalia constructionall of the different art forms. I think that's important because that's a partof our culture.

And we definitely want to keep that alive.

Mike Spear: as youtalk about your art as a way of, cultural preservation and expansion andsharing, I'm curious, you talk about natives dealing [00:10:00]with a different starting point than non natives. I know the school systems arenot exactly on the reservations what they are elsewhere. I think most peoplethink of schools is more or less the same everywhere.

Curriculum might be Differ from, city to city or county tocounty a little bit, but the basic core is the same, but in native Americanlife, I found this to be true up in Canada too. It's a bit more than that. Canyou expand on, on the school system there?

Angelique Albert:Absolutely. So what I will say about education for native people is that ourintroduction. to education was the boarding school system. So that was from,1880s into 1969 or 1970. Okay, so that was the first introduction to school,they were run by the federal government.

They were run by churches and they were institutions ofassimilation. They were not teaching high levels of education. It was best. [00:11:00] And so you have that typeof education where hundreds of thousands of native children were taken by forceaway from their families and put into these institutions.

So about 84 percent of, of native kids were put in theseinstitution, including my, my grandparents. And That's the whole point. It's mymom's generation. It's my grandpa's generation. when they were in this systemand experiencing an abundance of physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual abuseto be able to assimilate them, they were not getting an education.

So like if you talk to my grandfather when he got out of highschool at this Boarding school. Do you think he was ready for, secondaryeducation, post secondary education. He was not ready academically to enterthat. So when you talk about different starting points, it really is not thatlong ago.

That this happened. Now there are public school [00:12:00] systems, on our reservations on some ofthem anyway. And a lot of the youth attend public school systems. But how manygenerations? That's like in the last 50 years. That we've had access to aneducation that would prepare us, for college.

this is what drives me. Because when you see there's adifferent starting point, but yet you see what we've done in the past 50 someyears to overcome that. And, educating people at the highest level. I thinkthat there's um, a lot to be said about our progress in that.

But also there's absolutely a different starting point for usas Native people when it comes to education and, and the education that wasprovided historically and. I use that term lightly because those truly were notinstitutions of education. the motto was kill the Indian, save the man.

They cut the hair could not speak our languages. And I had togo learn my language from people at our tribal college, from our other eldersbecause my grandfather [00:13:00] when I waslearning from them, I would try to practice with him and he would only respondone time. And then he wouldn't speak it.

He went into the boarding schools speaking fluent Salish andKootenai is a language isolate. It's very difficult. And to the day he died, hewouldn't speak it to me. And I, I had a conversation with my mom the other dayand I asked her, did she ever hear my grandpa speaking, Salish or Kootenai?

And she said, yeah, a little bit here or there, but not reallyfluently. But sometimes she would catch him talking to just a couple of people.That were at his age and he would be having conversations with them. But Idon't know if that speaks to, the level of trauma he went through or the factthat he didn't want me to also experience that.

But he would not speak our language, he wouldn't pass thelanguage down. To me so those boarding schools broke some of those culturalthings. So it's nice to see, now that we have people educated in, language andlaw and all of this [00:14:00] that we're goingback and we're starting to revive.

Languages, we have language immersion centers and and haveschools that offer true education and and it's nice to have so many nativepeople with PhDs out there in, colleges and educating our students, but alsotribal colleges are a great center and a resource for our kids to learn our owntribal ways and to be taught by tribal people.

Mike Spear: Yeah,language is such an important thing. Beyond communication, it's culturalaffinity and cohesion and unity. It's creates a tribe in any sense, really tohave a common language with folks.

Angelique Albert:That's the challenge with the language, because most people think of a boardingschool as a preparatory, right? But these were institutions where a lot of thechildren didn't come back from. They were severely severely abused. And sothat's why I refer to them as institutions of assimilation and that just thelevel of abuse that they went through there was so, so significant.

And with the boarding [00:15:00]school kind of investigations that they're doing they're going back and findingthe bodies of all of our children that died at these institutions

that were left there . And that was.

Typical. That was typical for kids not to come back. they weretaken by force. They had handcuffs, little baby handcuffs that they put on ourchildren. And I hear stories from my family members where the kids would runaway and then they would come back and get them again and take them away.

But my, grandfather went to Chumawa, which was on ourreservation, so it was easier to run away and go home. And then my grandmotherwas older and my great grandmother and was sent to an out of state one.

But yeah, so it definitely was a forced situation where theywere put in these institutions and severely traumatized.

Mike Spear: Ifthat's, Your definition of school. I could see a lot of people saying, I wantno part of this But you're clearly a lifelong learner. You have several degreesto your name. What has your relationship [00:16:00]been with? Education formally or informally.

Angelique Albert: Ohmy gosh. I love education. Education was the one thing that I could do that,that brought me so much joy and happiness from the time I was a child to goingto college and I, I think that's the difference, I don't think of boardingschools as education centers at all. And as soon as. Our people had access totrue education.

we know that's a great equalizer. and I've always been, ifthere's, if I ever have had a challenging time in my life I know I can turn toeducation. And it doesn't matter what I'm doing in life. When I was a probationofficer, you brought that up.

I was I, for fun, I would go take law classes from the localtribal college, you know, take tribal law classes because it's so interesting.I think there's so much to know in the world. And the more I learn, I thinkthat It provides that, that level of knowledge so that we can create change inthe world.

And I [00:17:00] think thateducation is transformative and I will be a lifelong learner and I think that.I am not alone in that, when you look at our tribal educators who have laid thepathway for us there are people, my predecessors at my current organizationthey were working in the BIE and then also they were tribal leaders who wereheads of the National Congress of American Indians, and they're like, if we'rereally going to make a change, we have to commit to educating our peoplebecause that is the core building block.

Of any success in this world. So we need to be educated. And Ithink that's something that has been a traditional value. And for me, as aSalish woman, I think those things were taught a lot by our men, but alsothrough coyote stories. So education has always been important to us and alwayswill be important to us.

But when we. We see in the type of education that we weregiven, that's a driver for wanting to educate ourselves. and to [00:18:00] be a part of that educational system. So Ireally look at my predecessors who've paved the path and you don't know thestruggles that they've had to fight so that we can have what we have today, Andwhen I see what we have now, we have tribal professors, tribal curriculum, andA ton of support services for our scholars to be successful and persist.

I am a lifelong learner and always will be. And we'll be such astrong advocate for tribal education because I've, I personally haveexperienced the transformative power, As soon as I got my MBA, I felt a senseof purpose to do something with that. I just thought every tribal enterprise,every tribal organization should have an MBA because it just opens up a worldof understanding. Yes, I will always be a supporter of, tribal education at alllevels.

Mike Spear: I'm socurious on a personal level just about, your life in the casino industry andthe criminal justice system as an advocate as well as a probation officer. [00:19:00] But I think for purposes of our audiencelet's get right to it. Your current project is Native Forward. Give us theintro.

What's it all about? How did you come to the organization anddecide to take this on as your next chapter?

Angelique Albert: Ohmy gosh, Native Forward is the largest direct scholarship provider to Nativestudents in this country. We've provided over 400 million in directscholarships and that's our key thing. That's our core competency. We want toprovide scholarships. Why? Because that is the biggest barrier access to thefinancial means to, go to college.

That is the biggest barrier for us as Native students. people.That's what we do. We have a number of other programs that we run as well. Butit is about making sure that our scholars can attain the highest level ofeducation. So we've been around for about 54 years now. And in that time we'veeducated over 22, 000 native scholars.

And we always encourage the scholars to get the highest level.Possible. So we've [00:20:00] funded over 2,200 law degrees over 1, 800 PhDs. And some of our alumni are the likes of,secretary of interior, Deb Holland the Smithsonian Institute National Museum ofAmerican Indians director Cynthia Lamar and many other notable native peoplewho are out there truly creating change and using their voice and creatingimpacts, but also You know, we fund a lot of people like we talked aboutearlier, language, the languages are important in that language revitalizationand the traditional ecological knowledge.

And when it comes to climate change and kind of those efforts,I think it's important that We fund all students. So just for an overview, wefund undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees for students at anyaccredited institution. so they can go to college wherever they want.

We really want to support them. And what brought me here? Iwould say I know that , my [00:21:00] path herewasn't a direct line, definitely. But I think that as human beings, we aremultifaceted. Beings, but education is the thing, I was in philanthropy for awhile and still keep my toes in that area as well.

But um, there's something to be said about being the one on theground. Actually doing the work and making the impact. I found myself being alittle envious of just writing checks to different people and saying, yes, youget money and you get money and that's all fun and all of that.

But to be the one actually doing the work and working with thescholars, I think that's something that I wanted to be a part of uh, the otherthing is, as a child wanting to have safe spaces and a better life for ournative children, transformed into creating more opportunities, like , as amother, you want more opportunities for your kids.

And then when you see what opportunities are out there, youdon't want that just for your kids. You want [00:22:00]that for everyone's kids. So . I did have some experience in a non profit worldworking on a, at a national level and then in the philanthropic space as anational level. And you look at the impact and what you can do and, wanting todo that for all tribal people.

That is when I really found my calling was when I was at thatphilanthropic space and I was like, Nope, I want to be the one on the ground.Making it happen. And and that's what drew me to, Native Forward. It was theposition that fulfilled all of my life goals. And I love what I'm doing. nativeforward was just the dream job for me.

Mike Spear: Let'sdive into this a little bit further. We've talked about native Americanscholars coming into the higher education system from a different startingpoint. And this is, think in many ways, the challenge that native forward isseeking to address. What does that mean in terms of quantifiable stuff? Feweron average native American kids go on to higher education. Many of [00:23:00] them have to work part time. Jobs or headsof families. What's the texture of the student population that you're lookingto serve here?

Angelique Albert: wedid a study last year where we surveyed a lot of our students just to see whatthe landscape is like now and the average native college going student is alsoa head of household who is making, about 30, 000 or less who wants to go tocollege and their average unmet need is 26, 000.

16 percent of our scholars experience homelessness. So they'reopting to live out of their cars to be able to get that higher education. Thatnumber was a little bit surprising to me, but they're also having to take outstudent loans to be able to go to college.

So when you look at.What is the landscape? It's pretty challenging for our scholars to be able togo to college. So that's what we're seeing. So the financial need is pretty bigand what they're going through is pretty significant.

Angelique Albert: Ithink [00:24:00] the biggest thing that we tookfrom our study is that yes, it's true that the financial barriers are still thebiggest obstacle for our scholars. And that study also showed us how muchstudents are taking out in student loans. And the average student loan thatthey're taking out is 5, 000.

So we know as a, scholarship provider, if we can getscholarships, between five and 10, 000, then we can reduce the amount ofstudent debt that those, students are taking out by 60%. So it's our goal toget those scholarships, at least five to 10, 000, if not more. Right now, ourlargest scholarship is 30, 000.

And that is closer to the average unmet need of 26, 000. That'sour ultimate goal is to ensure that they don't have to walk away from collegewith an enormous amount of student debt.

Mike Spear: Just toadd some more context to what you just said I think, most of us, Who grew upnon [00:25:00] natives in a what most peoplethink of as our public school system, these days, get an education in NativeAmerican history to an extent, we understand the reservation system. Weunderstand that, before the Europeans arrived, that Native Americans populatedthe entire U S and they were displaced over time. It strikes me as we'retalking about one way to think about it. Is internally displaced refugees in away and the education system that we talked about the sort of forced attendanceat these residential schools as a way of disenfranchising and removing studentsfrom their culture and from their previous generations. Can we talk a littlebit about land and its role there? I got to learn again, when I was up inCanada, that a lot of the way that land transfer happened was a result of.Language barriers was a result of intoxication in some cases. Native peoplesagreeing to stuff. That they were presented with duplicitously.

And at least up in Canada, what I'm aware of is, land was givenback to the native [00:26:00] people, but thenit could easily be conscripted by the government For whatever purpose, reallynational security, but then even in areas where national security was thereason it would then get subleased out by the government to mining companiesand extraction and timber companies.

That's actually the reason I ended up doing this documentary inCanada that I mentioned. Can we talk a bit about the role of land capture andhow land is controlled with regards to the education system and how these kidsare coming up?

Angelique Albert:Sure. Yes. So I'll make two points. The first one is, my view of history is andwhat I was taught is that, as you've The federal government came in, the UnitedStates government came in and was trying to acquire land. And there was aperiod of extermination extermination was the policy to acquire the land.

And when they were unsuccessful in doing that They entered intotreaty negotiations with tribes in the United [00:27:00]States and with those treaty negotiations tribes retained the portion of theiraboriginal territory. So I look at it not as this land was given, but ourtribes fought to retain a portion of the land.

So those are the reservation lands that were established viatreaty rights. Now, every single one of those treaties was violated when theyimplemented the Dawes Act and opened up those reservations for homesteading andthere was a land grab. Where people were given land for a dollar an acre withinthe reservation boundaries.

Now also in regards to education, what happened in this countrywas Morrill Act or the land grant institutions where the federal governmenttook land expropriated from native people. And my tribe was one of them, theBitterroot Salish people in the Bitterroot area in Northwest Montana.

They were forcibly [00:28:00]removed from the Bitterroot area. And that land was given to the University ofMontana. So these are land grant institutions. They're given this land thewealth of those institutions over time. Was created on land that was taken fromtribal people. So it's not just the land where the institutions were built, butalso additional tracks of land were given so that, to your point, they could,mine it, they could, lease it out for agriculture purposes.

The federal governmenttook land, gave it to colleges, wealth is generated off of land based, alwayshas been, right? Manifest destiny. why we're in this country. so the universitysystems were given plots of land and not just the university that generates itswealth from say tuition and all of that, but they were given extra tracts ofland to be able to mine, to get oil from, to, lease out for agriculture, andthis funding goes into these pots , for these university [00:29:00] systems.

but the thing was that this land was taken from Native peoplewithout fair compensation, right? the University of Montana, our tribal peoplewere taken off, It was expropriated. and here, this is your free land, right?That was in the 1800s

and then in 1990, the TCUs were involved in that. In 1890,that's when HBCUs were included. The disparities persist. So appropriationsgives additional funding to those land grant institutions. And when you look atthe amount of funding that's given to the state institutions versus HBCUsversus TCUs, there's still disparities that persist.

So when I look at thosedisparities on top of the fact of what individual tribal students are goingthrough. It really exacerbates the problems that, that our students arechallenged with. So there are systemic issues, and then there are just thepersonal challenges.

I think that's somethingto consider and that's something that I always [00:30:00]encourage universities and colleges to, to look into is, How is yourinstitution formed and to consider the traditional people of that country, ofthat land base, I guess you would say.

I would say theUniversity of Montana acknowledges that and they do a tuition waiver for anymember of any tribe, which means, that's a citizen of that nation. Any tribalcitizens can apply for this tuition waiver to go to school there. So thatwaives some of the expense for those tribal people.

And I think that's important for universities to acknowledge.Their history, and some places are doing that by doing a land acknowledgment,and that's nice and all, but, you know, more appreciated when you take it astep further, and you take action, you know, when your, wealth of yourinstitution was built on that land.

I think there's an additional step that could be made. And Ithink that's something that I encourage so much. [00:31:00]universities to, to think about, because I think that's a way to reallyadvocate for our native scholars who, we want to level up when they've had adifferent starting point, that's a way of helping them to get us a step ahead.

Mike Spear: Yeah,we'll level the playing field, really.

Angelique Albert:Exactly.

Mike Spear: Youtalked about extermination, but there's more than one way to accomplish that,right? There's the violent way and disease and things like that, but there'salso the cultural extermination and taking land are there, this maybe is alittle bit of an aside since the issue of mining came up.

I know that one of the issues, one of the things that I'mfocused on right now in building altruists is sort of unintended consequences.And when we talk about extraction and mining, I know that one of the problemsthat can be associated with it is pollution and runoff, which causes healthproblems.

I know up in Canada, they're dealing with health issues relatedto gold in the water and uranium in some cases. Was that a factor in on yourreservation or is that, was that not as much of an issue?

Angelique Albert:That was not as much of an issue. Our tribe does not allow that. And that's [00:32:00] something to, I think it's important justto say that, Tribes are sovereign nations and they individually decide whatwill happen within their reservation boundaries. So our tribe did not have anymining.

We're a no dig reservation. So we don't allow any of that onour reservation. I think our challenges were a little different when it came tonatural resources. We did have a contract with a. An oil company once that hada pipeline that went through there, You know, it leaked in, in, in our tribalcouncil.

This was one of the first chances that I saw for our leadershipto really stand up. They said, take the pipeline out. And the pipeline was likethe company was trying to offer more and more money and they said, take it out.Our natural resources are more important. So that's something that that I wasable to see in a strong leadership and a strong stance on those types ofthings.

But for us, we had We had a dam that was installed right over asacred site a hydroelectric dam and that [00:33:00]generated money for a lot of years for this company They basically went to ourtribal leaders and got the sign off that was heavily influenced by food thatwas brought in at a time when our people were starving.

And so we had a hydroelectric dam and then later we educatedour people and they went in and, Fought, we had people that were lawyers,tribal lawyers, and they came in and they fought for the right to have leasepayments for the land keep in mind, this was many years later, right?

So we did get lease payments and then they fought to have thefirst option to purchase that dam. And so in 2015 we bought that dam. So now weown. We own a hydroelectric dam on our property, which we didn't really want inthe first place, but still is the life that we have.

So, I think that it does speak to, ensuring that we were ableto educate our people who could then go in and legally advocate for what wasright for our [00:34:00] people

Mike Spear: with theoil pipeline, getting that removed, was that a big battle? I remember severalyears ago, the Dakota access pipeline was a huge,

uh, did you have similar troubles with that or was it takencare of properly?

Angelique Albert: ohgosh, our tribe specifically that we didn't have a similar issue at that time.I think that, that the agreement was directly with the tribe. So when the tribecut it, there was no no problem with that. I think that the entire country wasconcerned and should be concerned about the Dakota access pipeline.

And I think there are other challenges that are currently goingon across this country that I think that all citizens of the United Statesshould be aware of these types of things. And. The potential impacts that thosepipelines have to pollute our water and our land, because it's one thing, if itwas going to go through a highly populated non native area, and it was divertedto say, Oh now this, [00:35:00] since thepeople in this city don't want it, they don't want the possibility ofpollution, we're going to divert it down to tribal lands, and it can pollutetribal lands.

Guess what? There's nothing that happens. in, in a cone. Triballand is not just, these waterways impact all of us and all of our people andeveryone down the line. So I think that every person in this country should beconcerned about about our environment and the impacts of our actions.

And I think that's one thing that our tribal people, I feellike we were the original scientists of this country, and we have lived inharmony with this land since time immemorial. And I think that we can offerAdvice and ways that we are more educated in those areas.

So I think that it would be nice to see the tables turn alittle bit. And we are seeing that we're seeing, more of our kids. When wespend money on stem for us, we spend [00:36:00]Oh, gosh, I would say Probably two thirds of our funding annually goes out inSTEM funding. And we're seeing a lot of that to support land conservation,language revitalizing traditional plant medicines and things that are,hydrology and fields that, that are I see the next generation, this newergeneration, really being more mindful of our environment.

But I think that we should all be more closely aware of thosethings.

Mike Spear: Yeah. Ithink, as Americans, we like to do the thing and, Profit from the thing andtake the thing and not worry about the consequences of that or the cleanup thathas to happen. I think that's starting to shift, but obviously it's a hugeproblem. I think also in what you said is this idea that we can't do thisproject here because people are impacted.

So let's put it on the reservation. There are people there.

Angelique Albert: [00:37:00] And down the chain, guess what? There'sanother city just down from the reservation. And water flows. It's like theblood of this, nation, and it goes from one end to the other. It doesn't stickjust to the reservation. That will impact all of us.


Mike Spear: So let'stalk about what you just said as well in terms of, the investment in STEMeducation. I think that the latest stats that I saw Native forward, supportsover 20, 000 scholars in its history, 400 million in scholarships, which isimpressive across all 50 states.

What does that mean in terms of long tail impact? You mentionedthe student loans. In terms of what those numbers mean to the lives of thestudents that benefit from it,

how does that actually impact them in the longterm?

Angelique Albert:well, I think that first in the short term, I want to address that just for aquick minute, because if scholars have funding annually, they get to persist,and they get to graduate. So I we're able to measure the impact [00:38:00] by graduation rates. So we see ourscholars graduating at 69 percent for undergraduate students and 95 percent forgraduate students.

So to compare that, the average graduation rate for nativestudents in this country about 38 percent to 41%. So I think in the short term,it is being able to persist and get to that next level and so that they cangraduate. So that's what I see in the short term. In the long term is profoundfor Native people in this country, where we fight for sovereignty rights, wherewe have Native people visible and represented in spaces where their voice canmake an impact.

Look at Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland. She is in the veryposition that implemented the boarding schools. The Department of Interior isthe department that implemented the boarding schools. So we know with a nativeperson in that [00:39:00] position, that willnever happen again. That will never, those type of policies cannot happenagain.

So when we have tribal lawyers fighting to retain treatyrights, we know that we can continue the cultural perpetuation, right? But alsoI feel that. As native people, I feel like we contribute in different ways. Ithink there's a beauty in diversity. And I think when we all come together, Ithink that we're stronger.

And I think something that comes to mind is. we funded a personthat was going to NASA for an internship. And NASA was so impressed by thisnative scholar, , just because of the way that he thought and he thought in away that was more holistic. So when he was working on the Robonaut astronaut.he just thought more holistically and thought of things that other even IvyLeague school students they just thought [00:40:00]differently. And I think that speaks to what you were talking about when youthink of things more holistically and more communally.

I think that we allcontribute in different ways. So I think that what this impact means is just astronger nation for all of us, but also for us, it means economic mobility forus as tribal people. It means economic mobility for us as tribal nations. itmeans.

Stronger tribal enterprises. It means stronger corporationsthat have diverse workforces. And I think that it means a stronger country in amore equitable country for us. But I get to see it every day, you can look atthe lives of each individual person. And each one is a story of transformation.

Look at Henrietta Mann, Dr. Henrietta Mann she's an advocateand an educator. And just to look at that one human's life and what she's donein that [00:41:00] lifetime, her grandmotherwent through I think it was the Sand Creek Massacre and to see what she's donewhere she's started her own tribal college.

She's worked at many different Ivy League schools. She's workedat different university systems at a high level and contributed to ensuringthat these university systems were welcoming to tribal students, that they hadtribal curriculum and tribal professors and had support services for ourscholars.

So, this one person's life has impacted the lives of so manyother scholars, and I think that's the beauty of what Native Forward does is,we're educating, one person times 22, 000, right? So I think that our successas an organization definitely lies in the stories of the people who are outthere doing the work and that one little scholarship.

And we've done kind of economic studies on it. And in, the ROIis, like 16%, per dollar. And you're looking at that [00:42:00]versus the stock market and that's great and all. But they're just numbers,right? When you look at a human being's life and what they've done, you look atsecretary Deb Haaland and the impact that she's making.

I think that's where the success lies.

Mike Spear: Youmentioned the economic mobility and folks going out there in the world anddoing amazing things.

What does it mean to the tribe and the tribal community whenthose folks come back and choose to live on the reservation or join localgovernment or invest back in their communities that they came from?

Angelique Albert: Wesee that a lot, for me as a Native person, we're taught that. that is one ofthe value systems is to be able to come back to our tribe and to benefit ourtribe and our collective community. Being and I do that from time to time. Iwill go back and serve my own tribal community in different ways.

And I think that's important. And we see a lot of our tribalscholars doing that. And there's a number that go out into corporate America aswell. [00:43:00] But a lot of the students dogo back. And I think that's essential for running these tribal enterprises.It's not just gaming We have corporations that are doing federal contracting.

We are running our own banks. We are running our ownhydroelectric dams. And I think it's essential to have those leaders in thosecommunities because those tribal enterprises, the dividends that are generatedfrom that go back into the tribe. And, Same with gaming, those dollars go backinto the tribe to support those social services and those kind ofinfrastructure type things that we need as a, governing body.

We have police force, we have court systems, we have educationsystems and health departments. And so those type of enterprises support thetribes to be able to take care of themselves and truly be sovereign. Nations.So it is critical and it's nice to see. It's just, it's [00:44:00] pretty nice to see so many educated people in positionsof leadership and running, the program that I graduated from was Gonzagauniversities MBA program, but the one that's specifically geared to AmericanIndian entrepreneurship.

And We have a tribal council member who graduated from that. Wehave two of the executive team members who graduated from that. We have manydepartment heads that graduated from that program. So it's really nice to seeus elevate to the next level and the next level. And I hope our ancestors wouldbe proud if they look at us today and look at, The fact that this education hasallowed us the opportunity to come back and then to invest in what's importantto us.

And when I, think about the departments that, this people areworking in there, around the same things that are important to us. It's thoseenvironmental things. And, the health industry, right? And taking [00:45:00] care of our people. I think we need moreof that.

Honestly, we've spent a lot of time making sure that we havelawyers in place to fight for our rights and retain the rights that we have,and we have educated a lot of PhDs, so we're educating our own now. But I thinkwe need more help in those health fields.

Mike Spear: I Thinkyour answers just would be proud. And I say that as an outsider, but as someonewho has the impression that Native American cultures think very holisticallyand in terms of multiple generations, in terms of centuries of time rather thanthe short termism we seem to have, prevalent today.

I think they would be proud and see this as a stop on thejourney.

since you Joined Native Forward, it seems like you've had atremendous impact on the organization itself. and have taken it to a new levelof effectiveness and scale.

Can you talk about that process from

Angelique Albert:Yes.

Mike Spear: theorganization, in one place and bringing it to a completely different one?There's a lot of challenges I know that go [00:46:00]along with that, but I'm curious about your journey there.

Angelique Albert: Ifeel actually very proud about this because when I came in, the thing I did wasjust learn. I learned from everyone who was there, the experts who were on theground and what I learned in my first year there is that my predecessors builta fabulous program around scholarships and support systems for students.

And so when it came to what I could contribute, I came in withmy MBA and saying, okay, what do we have? We have this phenomenal. product andor service, right? We have this phenomenal thing and it was very clear to seeit was missing marketing. It was missing fundraising. It was already fabulous.

It just needed a little light shown, in that direction, and alot more money put into marketing and then maybe some infrastructure around [00:47:00] fundraising and again, that comes withsharing your stories. So I think that's what I've done is came in and,definitely took education in my business degree and implemented The marketingstrategy.

And also I'm very strong in strategic planning. So creating aplan and executing is I'm a little nerdy, you know,

Mike Spear: Good,though. It's important.

Angelique Albert: Idon't tell anyone. But I do. I love creating strategy, but I think the key isgetting everybody on board and executing it. But we had the first strategicplan.

We had a four year strategic plan, and we're able to implementthat fully in four years. And then with the infusion of some funding that wereceived we were able to procure the Just top of the line strategy work. Andand my little strategy look like, the toddler strategy compared to our currentone.

And, so I think that it's a combination of taking that [00:48:00] education and looking at it from abusiness aspect and then taking that, funding to be able to really execute it.To the next level and, having people believe in, in, in our leadership and whatwe needed to do. So I think it was a combination.

I think no one does it alone. It, it really is team who's doingthe work and has always done the work and it's just shining a light on it andpulling in partners and people who believe in it and it's. I think that's thekey.

Mike Spear: you knowthe people that start an amazing program are not necessarily the same peoplethat can run an effective organization at scale. It's just a different mindset.In many cases, different skillset. A lot of the things you were talking aboutOur investments in infrastructure and overhead which is still unfortunately,and we're working to change this, kind of a dirty word in the nonprofit sector.Can you talk about your approach to making those investments and what thatconversation was like internally at the organization, as well as [00:49:00] with potential funders?

Angelique Albert: weare looking at, when we did our strategy work and we really analyzed where arewe, I think that data is important. And when you look at where are we, andyou're looking at overhead and indirect I don't think those are bad words. Ithink that what a lot of nonprofits are doing is they have such a low overheadthat they're not able to execute well.

And that is one of the conversations we had internally. Andwhat was happening is that We were burning out staff that's definitely not whatwe want to do. We want to make sure that we have happily, fairly compensatedemployees who are doing one job, not three. So I think that's a part of ahealthy.

Corporate environment. Why is that not a healthy part of anonprofit environment? So I think that it is important when working withinvestors that they feel that they're able to have enough transparency to vetyou, to say, what are you really doing? And to have those open dialogue to sayhere's where [00:50:00] we are here areshortcomings and to just be able to clearly outline those.

In analysis of the organization. So I think it's having thoseopen conversations and getting champions, but also you have to be able to showthat the work is actually being done and effective. But for us internally, it'sreally looking at those shortcomings.

And I think that the exciting thing is that every time we dothis. We refine it. So my first strategy was exactly what you're talking about.It was infrastructure type things. And now we're in a growth phase, right? Sowe are scaling. And I'm excited because when you look at the number, we onlyfund 18 percent of the scholars who apply.

That number is moving, but that shows such a high need such ahigh need. And so we just needed to be able to scale what we were doing to beable to serve those other students and that we're starting to see movement inthat now. [00:51:00] So I'm excited to see ournumbers from this year and next year.

Because I feel like we're definitely moving the needle andscaling up. But you're right. The first few years were really was reallyfocused on building that infrastructure and putting those additional staffmembers in place and now we're scaling up. So this was a big year for us.

We've received so many awards and it feels good to have theaccolades. But more importantly, it feels good to have people know who we areand want to jump in and support us. And and they see the value in it as we do.Because it's really about that impact and and what we do.

So the awareness is phenomenal, right? It's very humbling tosee how much. Awareness we've had , this year. but at the end of the day, itfeels even better to have people join you on the journey and believe in you andtruly see the impact.

Mike Spear: Twoquestions. Stemming from what you just said. First of all,

[00:52:00]as you've invested in growth and marketing and fundraising, what has thatincreased revenue, increased capacity translated to in terms of increasedimpact?

And second, with the increased awareness, what is that meant tothe organization? Just the dollar amounts and advocacy and volunteering ingeneral support.

Angelique Albert: Oh,I would say dollar wise, when you look at that, you're looking at The nativeforward being able to quadruple revenue. And then when you're looking at netassets or net assets went from, oh gosh, about 4 million to 40 million. You'relooking at 10 times when you're looking at dollar amounts.

And I think that's great for business people to think of, but Ithink when you're talking about Impact. You're talking about numbers. You'retalking about the numbers of lives that you've changed, and we've seen such abig infusion in industries that where we [00:53:00]didn't usually have funding.

So I know I've talked a lot about the stem funding that wereceive, and that's important, but also we have seen a big increase in thelanguage funding. In the land conservation funding, and I think that'simportant. I would love to see more funding in the arts. I think that'ssomething that is underfunded still in this country, but we have seen anincreased funding in some of those areas, but also we've been able to I think,we talked about this earlier.

It just comes down to the number of lives that we can impactand going from, I guess when I started, I think we had scholarships that were500 and 2, 500 and now we're able to increase that to up to 30, 000 perscholar. And then the other thing I'll say is that we had funding forundergraduate, graduate and professional degrees [00:54:00]when I started.

And now we have funding for certifications. We have mid yearfunding and we have funding for tests. We have funding for, to take your CPA.And we survey our students every year and say, what do you need? Okay. And theycome back with, okay, this is really what I need.

So we've tried to fill those gaps oh, and then the other stuffis postdoc. you could get funded for your PhD, but when you're finalizing yourdissertation there's no funding around for that. So now we have funding inareas that we've never had before and funding, throughout the year instead ofjust once a year, because sometimes, life happens and students have adifferent.

starting point or if they drop out and need to start midterm ormaybe they missed the scholarship application date. And so now we have a secondcycle. So the impact is very us. The direct impact to scholars because thefunding that we have received we [00:55:00]have invested it and we take a percentage of that and we just give it directlyout into the scholarship dollars in the way that is most needed for them.

But then also to your point, we've been able to scale up instaff to be able to perform the duties that they need to for us to scale inthat regard.

Mike Spear: you'vebeen able to make some key hires as well with that, that you wouldn't have beenable to afford otherwise.

Angelique Albert:Yes, we have a whole development team now, and before it was me and one otherstaff.

Mike Spear: Wow. Wow.Speaking of development I'm curious, in your experience and in talking to yourpeers, how is fundraising and philanthropy for Native American issues differentfrom other cause areas? Is it more challenging? Is it the same? What are someof those conversations like?

Angelique Albert: Ithink that the way that it's different is that whenever we enter aconversation, there are many times when we have to start at a base level. Toget through some of those stereotypes or that lack of knowledge. I think thatin this [00:56:00] country visibility,invisibility, erasure of our story, the story that we've been told, is notnecessarily the true story, right?

So I think starting our starting point when we enter aconversation is much different than maybe other demographics. We're seen asthese historical people. Stoic beings or people that at their school systemsout there who actually teach that we all Died that we were all killed off andmy son came home and told me that you know when he was in eighth grade and soWe were living in a different state and he came home and told me that.

And so I think there's just a different starting point and Idon't think it's I think that there's just a lot of learning, but it's nice tosee the exposure of some of the, the more visibility for us as Native people,because as we gain visibility, there's a broader understanding. So theknowledge of the

boarding schools. People are more knowledgeable about that. AndI would say [00:57:00] that's the biggestdifference. When entering conversations with some of our funders, it is nice toknow that, there are some funders who have been committed to Indian country foryears and just their level of knowledge , it's nice to enter those conversationsat a different level.

I would say that's probably the biggest. is just getting pastsome of those conversations. But but also I think it's exciting to see moretrust based philanthropy coming into play. And that is something that, youknow, McKinsey. Scott led the charge on that, but we're seeing more funders usethat approach.

Even some of our longtime funders, they're coming to us andeven though they have their criteria, they come to us and say, how do you seeyourself using this funding this year? What will work for you? And you tell uswhat's going to work for you. And then we'll build program around that so we [00:58:00] go to them with what we want.

And so that's really a nice shift that we're seeing andsomething that we'd like to see continued.

Mike Spear: Yeah. Howdoes the reporting and accountability work within trust based philanthropy inyour experience? Cause from the literature, from the marketing that you seearound it, there's really not much of a conversation around impact at all.

They say let's trust theteams. Let's invest in. Teams with good cultures and good leaders, which isimportant, but that's sort of where the conversation seems to stop with a lotof people where the measurement and evaluation part. Isn't actively in theconversation. I'm just wondering with your experience how that's worked in yourrelationship with Mackenzie Scott or other trust based funders to have thatreporting and accountability piece.

Angelique Albert: Ithink we're ending up a little bit more in the middle, honestly, becausehistorically what we've seen is just such a burden on nonprofits on thisreporting. And we're, there's so much reporting that needs to be done that ittakes away [00:59:00] from the time to do thework. So I think that For a long time, that was the case.

And then you have McKinsey, Scott and other philanthropists whocame in and they do the vetting and the impact evaluation upfront. So they haveto say, do you really have an impact before I even invest in you? And there is.It's a smaller amount of reporting, certainly. But then what I'm seeing now isthat funders can come in and say, okay, what do you want to do?

What are your goals this year? Where do you want this money togo? Okay. And then let's develop the metrics of how we're going to measurethis. And I think that's where we're ending up is a little bit closer to thatside when we're getting into the trust based.

No, there, there is definitely, the foundations and thecorporations that need the reporting requirements. And we still do the annualreporting requirements, but I think that it's just a little more flexible onwhat that means. But I also think that there's something to be said aboutevaluating [01:00:00] impact before you givethe money.

You want to know that you is going to something great. And thenalso as an organization if you have a strong strategic plan and a strategy, youhave benchmarks, you have goals that trying to achieve, you have a needle thatyou're trying to push and that is the bigger picture.

of the organization. If you're vetting it and saying, Oh, whatare you trying? What is this big plan of yours? What is the big hairy audaciousgoal, right? What is it that you're going to form in that world? And are youdoing it? And I don't think that has to be done by analyzing every data pointor every phone call or every, you know, so I think there's room for trust basedphilanthropy at different levels. and that can include a portion of impact and,goal setting. But also I can, I think that there's something to be said forhitting that big, hairy audacious goal. know, so let's move the, let's move the[01:01:00] mountain. Did you move it an inch ordid you move it a mile?

How far did you move it? And I think those things are, thosethings can be seen. And I hope that MacKenzie Scott is looking at us and isproud of us and to see the impact and how far we've moved our mountain in thepast few years. And I think that shows,

Mike Spear: How doyou handle it when you miss the target because these strategic plans, a lot ofit's hypothesis, right? You say, here's where we think we're going to head. Ifyou're, if you exceed it, it tells you one thing. If you fall short, it tellsyou something else. How do you handle it when you miss the mark above or below?

Angelique Albert: Oh,I think that's a part of leadership. That's a part of growth. And you we missedthe mark. And I think that we exceed the mark in some areas. And, when you havea five year strategic plan and you have the pro formas that go out five years,like me, it's, you're never going to be precise in that, but what I can say isthat you learn what you can, you [01:02:00]pivot and you decide what components are you going to keep.

And which ones are you going to pivot and maybe put a longertime frame on so I can see very specifically from our strategic plan. I wantedto be way farther ahead in my research agenda than I am right now. I wanted tobe way farther ahead in my data analysis. And, I wanted to be way farther aheadthan where I am right now.

And those are my shortcomings right now. Yeah, I missed themark. I did not hit the goal. However, we're killing it in other areas, right?So I think that lessons there and that's that's what leadership is. It's likeyou make a decision. You're like, we want to do all the things. We want to doall the things.

And then you're like, okay you can't do all the things and dothem well. So we're going to cut back on this one. We're going to make this onea priority and we're going to kill this one. And we're going to pivot this oneand we're going to do this one next. This one will have a longer horizon, alonger timeline.

And I don't ever look at it [01:03:00]as a failure. I look at it as the next challenge, right? You just pivot. And Ithink that with any. That's just, yeah, that's a part of becoming great is youhave to have your bumps in the road and you learn that some things take alittle longer and take a little more time to, to be able to develop.

And, but if you don't have the big goal, you're not, you'redefinitely not going to hit it if you don't have it.

Mike Spear: How'sthat conversation been with donors in areas where, it's fallen short ofexpectation?

Angelique Albert: Ihave not had. Any negative repercussions. I think that mostly when funders comein and say, what do you want to fund? I'm not giving them. our shortcomings tofund. I am not, I'm like, Hey, we need support here and here. And I'm, and [01:04:00] I've learned over the past two years, weneed to do a little more work.

So we may ask them to then fund the portion of that, that setsup. A stronger infrastructure to be able to do that. But I'm not telling them,the organizational goal of being, from 1 1 to 50, in three years. I'm tellingthem, okay, we're going from 1 to 20 and will you help us get there?

So it's really, it's it takes being honest with yourself as anorganization and allowing your leadership team to have those honestconversations about where you are. To say, I think that's part of it is astrong leadership is making sure you have a strong team under you who is notgoing to lie to you and say, Oh yes, everything's great to say, you're notdoing good here.

So let's re strategize. And that's where we advocate for moresupport for those. Those shortcomings. And we slow down and ask for, just askfor it at a different level. And we don't ever ask a partner to jump in at 50.we're honest about where [01:05:00] we're at,

Mike Spear: Yeah, Youmentioned last time we spoke finding some parallels between What NativeAmericans deal with especially in the social sector and awareness around?Programs and causes and what African Americans have dealt with we spoke alittle bit about The George Floyd killing and the impact that had on nativeforward.

Can you talk a little bit about that?

Angelique Albert: Ithink that this country had such a strong racial awakening in that moment andjust the humanity in this nation. I think it really, it woke people up to thelack of humanity and the need for humanity. And I think there was a moment of Ithink it truly brought people together and I felt it, I don't think one humanbeing wasn't impacted by that moment.

And what that did for me, [01:06:00]it just really helped me to strengthen my partnerships with say, HispanicScholarship Fund, API scholars and just other partners in the field to say, howcan we support each other? And I think that historically nonprofits had a senseof scarcity.

Oh, there's a pie. Want my little piece of the pie? We're allfighting and competitive for a piece of the pie. And as tribal people, we don'tthink like that. I think that it's really, it doesn't feel good to have piewhen someone else doesn't have pie. But I think that moment. really helped oursociety to think more holistically and to say we need to come together andthink of more abundance.

and strength and unity. And I think that's probably the momentwhere, you know, I started having monthly conversations with other CEOs fromthese other places to talk about our challenges and to support each other [01:07:00] and to share. We even shared donors. Andwe share lessons learned and here's my struggles and getting through COVID andwhat are you guys doing to navigate this and the remote stuff.

And if it wasn't for that, I would be in a much differentsituation. space. And so me as a CEO connecting with other people, I feel likethere's a stronger sense of abundance out there where we are collectivelysupporting each other. and that's a beautiful feeling. And I would love to seethat continue.

And I think that when you have that space of abundance, thereare people that still have that scarcity mentality. But once. You come into theroom and there's enough of you and there's enough trust there that people wantto be a part of that. And so I've seen a shift in, in that regard.

And I think that's a nice thing that I would like to seecontinue. And you see the support of more allies who may have been, Maybe a [01:08:00] little more on the sideline before, andnow they're actively engaging and wanting to have conversations and invitingpeople to the table and actually creating space and saying, Hey, how do weinvolve native people?

Because a lot of times people just don't know, like, how do Igo about it? And so it's just, we've had a lot more people reaching out. So Ithink in all tragedy, I think that to get through, you try to find somethingbeautiful that can come out of something horrific. And And I can say that Idefinitely feel more connected to the broader communities with, black and brownpeople across this nation and not just black and brown people.

It's all people, right? So there's allies coming forward andreally connecting and having that sense of unity. It does It just, it feels alot, it feels a lot different than what it did before.

Mike Spear: Yeah. Onthat note, we've [01:09:00] talked a bit aboutextinction and suppression of cultural values and confusion on how to deal withthis in a better way. As someone who's not Native American, how can people.Engage with Native Americans in a respectful and open way.

Angelique Albert: Ithink with any ally, when I think of what I do, I think it's important toeducate yourself. And and I think look towards resources of, what can I do toeducate myself? I, and I think one of the things I would say is Native peopleas distinct, different political entities, and they have a government togovernment relationship with the federal government.

All of the things that we're talking about are not justconcepts. They were federal laws. Extermination, termination, assimilation,these are not just words, these were policies that were put into place. And sothere's [01:10:00] understanding federal Indianlaw, I think is important. I think there are resources, the National Museum ofthe American Indian, the Smithsonian, they have a great resource on theirwebsite that has indian 101, if you will, where you can get a general conceptof things. And then if you want to dig in, the National Congress of AmericanIndian has historical context on their website. Illuminative is a amazingresource to look in. They have a couple of different research projects thatthey dug into and it speaks to those stereotypes and, it's interesting to seethe results of it, but also they have.

Curriculum and different resources on their website. So I wouldsay, go, find out as much as you can and to reach out to native ledorganizations, to tribal leadership, but there, there are many national nativeorganizations that you can reach out to, obviously us NIEA.

The National Indian Education [01:11:00]Association. There's the National Congress of American Indians. There, thereare a lot of different national native organizations that you can reach out to,to connect with, to partner with, to advocate for, to ask for support from. Ifyou need something from us to, to help share our story and our voice, I thinkthat's a way that people can be engaged.

If you look around the room and that someone's missing, whetherthat's someone that's Native, whether that's someone that's, Hispanic, black,whatever. If you see someone missing, invite someone to the table. And so Ithink that's an important just an important thing.

Reach out to different organizations and ask and and anyone, Ithink that for the most part, people are very receptive to that. And. And gladwhen they do. I definitely invite people to reach out to me. I see myself as aresource and I'm open to that.

Mike Spear: you'vehad a lot of different careers over your career.

We've [01:12:00] talked about acouple of them specifically, but if you were not in the social impact sectortoday, if you were not working with the casinos or in the criminal justicesystem, what's a career path you might have taken?

Angelique Albert: Artfor sure. And then, health and wellbeing. I love healthy stuff, but also art isjust a part of my life. And that was My original pathway, but I wasn't able toget it to that next level. I could do it now though. retirement. maybe inretirement, I'll go back to art.


Mike Spear: Outsideof the work you're currently doing outside of forward, outside of tribalissues, what do you think is the most important cause that we can be addressingtoday?

Angelique Albert:think climate.

Mike Spear: That'susually my answer as well. You've mentioned a couple of folks Dr. Henry at aman, Deb Holland. Who are some other people that you really admire out there inthe world, in the impact space, in other areas that you've drawn inspirationfrom, or that have affected your life directly?

Angelique Albert: Ohmy gosh. There are [01:13:00] so many people. Ithink that none of us do it alone. I'm inspired daily by the people I workwith. They're just amazing. And the directors and like I talked about thepeople who started this organization and all of my predecessors Henrietta Mann,Deb Haaland, of course our top of the line.

Holly Cooke McCorrow. Who is my board chair. Just amazing womanwho creates change in this world. My father reminds me just to stay grounded,and also people like Mackenzie Scott who take the pledge. To give back tocommunities

Mike Spear: we'retalking about be hags earlier, when you're ready to move on from nativeforward, when you're ready to retire or go travel or go onto the next career,what is something for you that you would like to have accomplished in your timewith native forward?

Angelique Albert:moving the needle. I want to be able to fund more scholars. It's our goal to beable to Fulfill the unmet need of every native scholar. [01:14:00] Any native student who wants to go to school should beable to go. And and I know we fund 18 percent of the students who apply. I wantto fund 80 percent of the students who apply. I want to be able to move thatneedle. And and just fund more scholars.

Mike Spear: Fill thewhole need.

Angelique Albert:Yeah.

Mike Spear: This isnot something I normally ask, but since we have a tiny bit of time what do yousee as the future of education? We talk about, convergence of folks with apublic school education, private school education, those that came out ofschools on the reservations entering on a different playing field in somecases, and also being aware that secondary education is changing and there's somany more resources.

That you can do self guided education with. What do you see asthe future of our higher education system?

Angelique Albert:Higher education isn't for everyone, right? It's not the only path. But I dothink that it is critical that we continue the path of higher education. Ithink that We see more people going into [01:15:00]alternative types of life paths. but

I think that there is aconcern about Equity in higher education. When you look at the Supreme Courtdecision on affirmative action and the impact that's going to have, for us asnative people, , we have seen a decline in attendance in higher education overthe past four 14 years a significant decline.

And then with this affirmative action kind of thing, I thinkthat is That has the potential to also impact, our native people going to haveequitable access to that higher education. So I think that my concern is thatscholars will be deterred from going to college and I'm concerned about thatbecause I do see the power of education and I believe in the power ofeducation. And I also value education in different [01:16:00]forms. I get the privilege of hanging out with Dr. Henrietta Mann this week andKimberly Teehee and other native leaders that. just to be in their company andhear their stories.

I value that. I feel like that is a form of education initself. But I do believe that we need to continue to promote higher educationat the highest levels because if we are going to be in positions where ourvoice has impact and influence that if we're going to be in those positions anduse our voice.

, we have to be in those positions and to get there, you needthat higher education. So I think it's critically important that we encourageour native scholars to continue to pursue education at the highest level, atthe highest level. It's more important now than ever before for me, I'mconcerned about where we're going in this country. Again, I don't believe thatit's the only form of [01:17:00] education.It's the only, pathway to a successful life, but also in order for us to havepeople. In positions where they matter, we have to have higher education. SoI'm, I continue to be a strong advocate for that and we'll continue to do mypart to support scholars in getting to where they want to be.

Mike Spear: lastquestion for you. What's the best way for people listening to this to getinvolved and support native forward?

Angelique Albert: Ohmy gosh. I would say, email me, call me, connect with us, reach out. My emailis angelique@nativeforward.Org call our organization, look us up, connect. ButI would say please reach out and the the more that we connect, the more that wepartner together, the more impact we can make for not just our native scholars,but us collectively.

So I would just encourage your listeners to please, pleasereach out to me and to connect.

Mike Spear: AngeliqueAlbert Thank you so [01:18:00] much for joiningus. I've Thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. We can go on for hours more, I'msure. And we'd love to at some point in the future, but just want to reallyacknowledge you and say, I admire the tenacity, your growth mindset, youragility and transparency as a leader.

And excited to follow your work and the work of native forwardas time goes on. Thank you very much.

Angelique Albert:Thank you, Mike.

Mike Spear: We'll leave it there for now. Okay. Big thank you to Angelique Albert for joining us.And thanks again to the team at Bryson Gillette for making the intro.

You can learn more aboutAngelique's work at native forward. org and in the show notes at cause andpurpose. org. If you enjoyed the episode, please subscribe and leave us areview wherever you listen to podcasts. And share it with a friend or colleagueyou think might find it interesting or valuable cause and purposes of production of

org on behalf of myself, Angelique and our entire team. Thanks so much for listening and we look forward to speaking with you again soon.

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People in this episode

Angelique Albert

Angelique Albert is the CEO of Native Forward Scholars Fund, the largest provider of direct scholarships to Native students in the United States. She is a mission-driven leader with expertise in public service, philanthropy, social justice and ensuring that Native students have the resources and support to fulfill their academic and professional aspirations.

Mike Spear

Social entrepreneur, consultant, and podcast producer, Spear has been a member and critic of the impact sector since 2006. His work spans product, innovation, impact advising, storytelling, and go-to-market strategies. Part of the founding team at, specializing in helping social good organizations build amazing products, increase their impact, and scale.


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