Native Americans in Philanthropy CEO wins Prestigious American Express NGen Leadership Award

Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, is the recipient of the 2017 American Express NGen Leadership Award in recognition of her advocacy for tribal communities and the role philanthropy plays in narrative change, advocacy, education, healing, and representation for Indigenous communities.

Established in 2010, The American Express NGen Leadership Award honors accomplished charitable community leaders under the age of 40, demonstrating significant impact in addressing society’s critical needs in their respective fields. The award is part of American Express and Independent Sector’s shared commitment to and support of emerging leaders.

Sarah’s passion for healing and advocacy started early as a teen activist raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sarah served in the leadership of The Episcopal Church in New York and led the effort making the church the first major denomination to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, focusing instead on education and advocacy on accurate history education, cultural teachings, healing, and asset based community development. Sarah joined Native Americans in Philanthropy as CEO in 2015 and has strengthened the organization’s mission and helped elevate its position in the sector and across movements.

“At a time of troubling divisions and divisiveness in our national’s civic and political life, Sarah leads with compassion, inclusion, and a welcoming of all races, ethnicities, cultures, and points of view…She professes a belief that it is vital for Native Americans to both embrace their cultural traditions, AND join hands with other groups to advance and promote unity and inclusion across all Americans,” said Dr. Robert Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment in support of Sarah’s candidacy for the award.

Native Americans in Philanthropy staff and board are inspired by her leadership and her drive to empower and uplift voices to create impact for grassroots communities:

“Sarah’s hard work in bringing connections and understanding to important issues in Indian Country deserves this honor. Her laser-sharp focus on bringing light to issues important to tribal peoples has brought deep meaning and purpose to the role philanthropy must play in solving these issues,” said Shirley Sneve, Native Americans in Philanthropy’s Board Secretary and Executive Director of Vision Maker Media.

“Sarah Eagle Heart is an excellent example and reminder of the long-term legacy of the leadership of Native women in philanthropy. She stands among the greatest including Ingrid Washinawatok, whose spirit continues to influence the mission and purpose of Native Americans in Philanthropy. Congratulations to Sarah Eagle Heart and her recognition as an emerging leader across the field of philanthropy as the honored recipient of the 2017 American Express NGen Leadership Award,” said Jo-Anne Stately, Board Treasurer and Director of Impact Strategy Economic Vitality at The Minneapolis Foundation.

“Sarah is a visionary leader and a passionate advocate on behalf of Native American communities. Not only has she led Native Americans in Philanthropy to a new level as an organization, she also personally embodies the values, courage, and results reflected in this prestigious award. This honor is a big win for our communities and for the broader philanthropic sector,” added Edgar Villanueva, Board Chair and Vice President of Programs and Advocacy for The Schott Foundation for Public Education.

As a national membership organization, Independent Sector brings together a diverse set of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to advance the common good. The organization is an advocate for public policies that impact the charitable sector, builds knowledge on behalf of the sector, and connects the hard-working organizations and leaders within the sector.

Sarah will join Independent Sector, Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Michigan Nonprofit Association on October 25-27 in Detroit to receive the award. Learn more and read the full announcement on the Independent Sector website here.

Support Sarah’s efforts in empowering Indigenous communities by becoming a member of Native Americans in Philanthropy today.

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