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Influential Changemakers Join Board of Premier Native American Scholarship Organization

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Three new board members bring decades of experience successfully strengthening and empowering Indian Country through federal policy advocacy, philanthropy and more

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Feb. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Native Forward Scholars Fund, the country’s oldest and largest direct scholarship provider to Native students, today has announced the appointment of three new members to its board of directors. The addition of these impactful and influential Native leaders continues the organization’s legacy of being led by changemakers throughout Indian Country. The board of directors plays an important role in Native Forward’s mission to increase visibility of Native people and ensure educational access within Indigenous communities. The new board members have each broken barriers and secured historic gains for Native people throughout their careers:

  • Kimberly Teehee (Cherokee Nation), Delegate-Designee to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Cherokee Nation
  • Cecilia Gutierrez, Managing Director, Portfolio Strategy & Management, Blue Meridian Partners
  • Lilian Sparks Robinson (Rosebud Sioux Tribe), Owner and CEO Wopila Consulting

These three experienced leaders join seven other board members to bolster Native Forward’s commitment to serving Native scholars and their journey through higher education.

“It is my honor to welcome such a strong panel of powerful women to our board roster,” said Angelique Albert (Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes), Native Forward’s CEO. “Kimberly, Cecilia and Lilian bring a level of expertise and commitment that aligns directly with the vision of our founders. Throughout their highly successful careers, they have continuously sought out opportunities to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples, used their platforms to elevate the needs of our communities, and developed innovative strategies to build sustaining power in Indian Country. I have the highest confidence that they will strengthen Native Forward’s impact as we grow and continue to empower Indigenous students and all Native people and communities by providing critical access to higher education.”

As a Delegate-Designee to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Cherokee Nation, Kimberly’s passion for Native representation will have a direct impact on our advocacy for substantive changes in higher education to promote inclusion, visibility, and achievement of Native scholars. Her work in the federal government will have a tremendous influence on Native Forward’s external presence.

“Native Forward plays an essential role in Indian Country by creating paths to higher education opportunities for tribal citizens nationwide. It is my honor to join this organization, and such a diverse group of Native leaders on the Board of Directors. I look forward to collaborating and advancing the mission for Native students. As an advocate for a new generation of Indigenous leadership, I hope we can open even more doors for our young people to thrive. When Native students succeed, it benefits all our tribal nations, and as Indian Country continues to grow stronger, we need more and more college graduates. With increased opportunities, the Native Forward scholarship recipients will have an even greater desire and ability to give back to the tribes and communities that helped shape them,” Kimberly said.

Cecilia’s devotion and passion for improving the lives of underrepresented youth and her lifelong dedication to improving access to quality education will add tremendous value to the Native scholars we serve. Her leadership experience is an asset to Native Forward’s core work in delivering high-quality scholarship programs while also increasing the board’s capacity and capabilities.

“I am honored to join the Board of Native Forward. To support the leadership of our CEO, Angelique Albert, and her talented team in their tireless effort to change the social and economic trajectory of our Native students placing them on a path to achieve their fullest and greatest potential and to continue to make lasting contributions in their communities and in our country,” Cecilia said.

Lilian brings to Native Forward a record of award-winning experience in nonprofit, grant, and education management, as well as her work in Tribal policy and government, that aligns with our strategic plan to improve processes. Her determination will help preserve a Native-centered culture of commitment, trust, and collegiality as an organization.

“Access, opportunities, and resources continue to be a barrier for Native American students’ ability to fulfill their educational goals. I’m honored to serve on the board of Native Forward as we raise awareness, cultivate partnerships, and develop strategies that create pathways and support for Native students to complete their education and start their careers ready for success,” Lillian said.

Native Forward Scholars Fund is the largest direct scholarship provider to Native scholars in the U.S. It is committed to ensuring that every Native student who wants to pursue higher education is able to do so. For over 53 years, the organization has empowered over 20,000 scholars from more than 500 Tribes in all 50 states and contributed to over 1,600 law degrees and more than 2,200 Ph.D. degrees. Through scholarship funding and holistic support, Native Forward has increased the graduation rates of undergraduate students to 69% and graduate students to 95%, compared to the national average of 41% for Native students. To learn more, visit

Contact: Sara LaBarge
(505) 881-4584
[email protected]

SOURCE Native Forward Scholars Fund


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