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Initiative grant supports inaugural Native Leadership Institute to strengthen tribal leadership and unity in North Carolina

July 14, 2014 — The N.C. Community Development Initiative invested $65,000 in the American Indian Center (AIC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to create and launch its inaugural Native Leadership Institute.

The Native Leadership Institute is the only culturally tailored leadership training program in the state for current and emerging Native leaders who are interested in sharpening their leadership skills, expanding their networks, and fostering unity across all tribes and Indian communities in North Carolina.

The program takes place over two years. During year one, there were three weekend gatherings which rotated around the state and provided participants with valuable trainings, opportunities to share experiences and challenges, and site visits to tribal communities. During year two, cohort members will be supported by the AIC as they implement individual leadership projects in their communities.

“The Native Leadership Institute is building strong leadership and partnerships at a local level in tribal communities which have been economically underserved in our state,” said Meena Ahuja, the Initiative’s senior program officer. “Our investment in the AIC has strengthened the alliance between the community economic development sector and North Carolina’s American Indian communities and we look forward to seeing what the first cohort is able twereo achieve in year two.”

The 24 participants in the inaugural cohort come from eight North Carolina American Indian tribes and a variety of backgrounds, from recent college graduates and grassroots organizers to tribal administrators and council representatives.

The AIC designed the Native Leadership Institute around its belief that leadership is about relationships and credibility, knowing one’s self, working well with others, and serving communities.

In a testimonial provided to the AIC, participant Lydia Locklear of the Lumbee tribe said, “[The Native Leadership Institute] has blessed me with the opportunity to meet incredible Native leaders who share the passion to help their people like I do. Together we have vowed to make change among our tribes…To see all the North Carolina tribal leaders come together and brainstorm has been priceless and I thank the institute for that!”

The American Indian Center is a public service center designed to advance the university’s mission of research, education and service by leading American Indian scholarship and research, engaging with and serving native populations, and enriching campus diversity and dialogue. For more information, visit

The N.C. Community Development Initiative leads North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit or call 919-828-5655.

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