Episode 161: On Community and Indigenous Peoples with Sarah EchoHawk, CEO of AISES
In this episode, Karen Horting, Executive Director and CEO of the Society of Women Engineers, speaks with Sarah EchoHawk, CEO, American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). They discuss the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples when it comes to pursuing education and careers in STEM as well as strategies to improve access.
Sarah EchoHawk (Pawnee)
CEO, American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
President, AISES Publishing, Inc. (API)
Sarah EchoHawk, an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, has been working on behalf of Native people for over 20 years. She has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) since 2013. A national American Indian nonprofit organization founded in 1977, AISES’ mission is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations and other indigenous peoples of North America in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers. Today, AISES has a rapidly expanding membership of more than 4,400 individuals, 190 college and university chapters, 16 professional chapters, and 158 affiliated K-12 schools. Since its inception, AISES has awarded over $11 million in scholarship support to American Indian STEM students. Through scholarships and internships, workforce development and career resources, national and regional conferences, science fairs, leadership development, and other STEM focused programming, AISES is the leader in STEM opportunity for American Indians.
In 2017, Ms. EchoHawk was appointed the President of AISES Publishing, Inc. (API). In her role as President of API, she is responsible for the day-to-day management of the corporation including the management and oversight of its flagship product, Winds of Change (WOC) magazine. WOC magazine has been in publication for over 25 years and is the premier magazine in Indian Country for all topics related to Native Americans and STEM, including its annual publication of The Top 50 STEM Workplaces for Native STEM Professionals, The 200 Best Colleges for Native Americans, and 25 Native STEM Enterprises to Watch. The magazine has five issues per year – all are available in digital format and four are also available in print.
Prior to joining in AISES, Ms. EchoHawk spent six years with First Nations Development Institute, a national American Indian economic development organization. During her initial tenure, she served as the Director of Development and Communications; and as Executive Vice President in her last four years with the organization. Ms. EchoHawk also served as the interim CEO for the organization’s subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, during its management transition in 2010. Previously, she spent several years working for the American Indian College Fund raising support for tribal colleges and universities. During her tenure, she served in many areas including operations, program management, communications, foundation relations, and individual giving. Ms. EchoHawk was an adjunct professor of Native American Studies at Metro State University of Denver for nine years where in addition to teaching introductory Native American studies courses, she also taught Native American Politics and co-taught Native Americans and Law with her father, John Echohawk, who co-founded the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in 1970.
Ms. EchoHawk is currently serves on multiple boards. She is currently the Vice Chair for Native Americans in Philanthropy, the Chair for the Native Ways Federation, and the Chair for Red Feather Development Group. She also serves on the Champions Board for the National Girls Collaborative, the Collaborative Advisory Board for WOC in Computing Research, and is a former board member for the Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network (ONABEN). She is the PI/Co-PI on three National Science Foundation grant projects and recently served as an Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Minorities in Energy Initiative.
Ms. EchoHawk has a Master of Nonprofit Management (MNM) degree from Regis University and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Native American Studies from Metro State University of Denver. She attended law school at the University of Colorado and completed additional graduate coursework in applied communications at the University of Denver.
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