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The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (The National Center) announced the 2021 class of Native American 40 Under 40 award recipients. The Native American 40 Under 40 awards represent the best and brightest emerging Indian Country leaders. Every year, 40 American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian leaders under the age of 40 are inducted in recognition of their leadership, initiative, and dedication, and for making significant contributions in their business and/or in their community. Award winners include leaders working in numerous fields including academia, government, non-profits, tourism, nature conservation, technology, and more.

This year, The National Center will resume the tradition of honoring Native American 40 Under 40 awardees during an in-person reception on Friday, December 10, 6:00PM—9:30PM MST, at Harrah’s Ak-Chin in Maricopa, AZ. To learn more about attending the 2021 Native American 40 Under 40 reception, click here. Similar to the 2020 class, the 2021 class of Native American 40 Under 40 recipients have displayed resiliency and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Center looks forward to celebrating the 2021 class.

“Every year we recognize 40 young Indian Country leaders who are paving new paths and opening new possibilities for their communities,” said National Center President and CEO Chris James. “The 2021 40 Under 40 class is showing future generations of Native leaders how hard work, perseverance, and dedication to your community and profession can pay dividends. We’re excited to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2021 class in person again, and I look forward to learning even more about the impressive work they’re doing on December 10. We hope this award continues to inspire generations of young American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian leaders to continue to dream big.”

2021 Native American 40 Under 40 Award Recipients (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • Erin Abrahamson, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; Chief of Staff, The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development
  • Yawna Allen, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma; Director of Civic Engagement and Special Projects/Communications Lead, The National Congress of American Indians
  • Joshua Anderson, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; Director of Surveillance and Technology, Cherokee Nation Entertainment
  • Chelsie Baldwin, Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska; Program Coordinator, Native Alliance Against Violence
  • Sarah Young Bear-Brown, Meskwaki Nation/ Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa; Motivational Speaker, SAYBB Creation (beadwork), Native American Activist, Vice President for The Native American Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party
  • Andrea Akall’eq Burgess, Yup’ik, Native Village of Kwinhagak; Global Director, The Nature Conservancy
  • Angelina Casanova, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation; Chairperson, Command Holdings, A Pequot Company
  • Ashley Christensen, Chugach Alaska Corporation; Director of Internal Customer Relations, Chugach Government Solutions, LLC
  • Cynthia Connolly, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians; Director of Programming, City Club of Cleveland
  • Courtney Davis-Souvannasacd, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa; Director, Minogitoon (Grow it Well)
  • Lauren B. Decker, Yup’ik Alaska Native and descendant of Bristol Bay Native Corporation; Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, PolArctic LLC
  • Sarah Biscarra Dilley, yak titʸu titʸu Northern Chumash; Lecturer in American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University
  • Heather Doran, Choctaw Nation; Chief of Staff, Industry, Apps, and Data Marketing, Microsoft Corporation
  • Jordan Dresser, Northern Arapaho Tribe; Chairman, Northern Arapaho Business Council
  • Jacob T. Floyd, PhD., Muscogee (Creek) Nation; Assistant Professor, University of Missouri
  • Ashlee Kane Fox, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; Self-Governance Coordinator and Assistant to the Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation
  • James Freeman, Lumbee; President, Emerging Technology Institute
  • Julian Guerrero Jr., Comanche Nation; Director, Office of Indian Education, United States Department of Education
  • Chad Cody Harsha, Cherokee; Secretary of Natural Resources, Cherokee Nation
  • Noah Blue Elk Hotchkiss, S. Ute / S. Cheyenne / Caddo; Founder/ Board President, Tribal Adaptive Organization
  • Anpotowin Jensen, Oglala Lakota Nation; Environmental and Health Consultant, International Indian Treaty Council
  • Calvin Jilot, Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy Montana; Council member, Chippewa Cree Tribe
  • Tisha Kuhns, Akiachak Native Community; Vice President  of Land and Natural Resources, Calista Corporation
  • Tyson Marchand, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; Assistant Controller, Northern Quest Resort & Casino and Kalispel Tribal Economic Authority
  • William J. Marchand, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; Planning Director, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
  • Naomi Miguel, Tohono O’odham Nation; Majority Staff Director, House Natural Resources Committee – Indigenous Peoples of the United States Subcommittee
  • Stacia Morfin, Nez Perce Tribe; Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nez Perce Tourism, LLC
  • Alisha Murphy, Navajo; Economist, Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development
  • Kilyn Rain Parisien, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa; Chief Executive Officer/Community Development Manager, Boys & Girls Club of Turtle Mountain/Byron Dorgan Youth Wellness Center
  • Elizabeth Rule, Chickasaw Nation; Assistant Professor; Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies, American University
  • Candace Schmidt, Northern Ponca Tribe of Nebraska; District Communications Director, Norfolk Public Schools
  • Tai Simpson, Nimiipuu (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho); Director of Social Change, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
  • Sunny Stevenson, Walker River Paiute Tribe; Director of Federal Relations at National Council of Urban Indian Health; Co-Owner of Cedar Stick Resource Group LLC
  • Samuel Stollenwerck, Cherokee Nation; Founder & CEO, Reservation Energy Partners
  • Brian Tanner, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes / Rocky Boy Cree; Director of Development, Potlatch Fund
  • Julie Thornton, Cherokee Nation; Owner/CEO, WaterSpider Creations
  • Heidi Todacheene, Navajo Nation; Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Veronica Watters, Oglala Lakota; Legislative Assistant, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
  • Dr. Jonnie Williams, Psy.D., Navajo Nation, Bitterwater Clan; Licensed Clinical Psychologist, American Indian Health & Services, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Rani B. Williams, Walker River Paiute Tribe; Legislative Assistant, Office of Representative. Sharice Davids, U.S. House of Representatives


2021 40 Under 40 Reception Details:

When: Friday, December 10, 2021. 6:00PM—9:30PM MST

Where: Harrah’s Ak-Chin, 15406 Maricopa Road, Maricopa, Arizona 85139.

Click here to get your ticket!