10 Organizations & Individuals Honored for First Nations’ 35th Anniversary

In observance of its 35th anniversary, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) honored 10 organizations and individuals who were influential in the creation, growth or other development of the national Native American nonprofit since its founding in 1980. The honors were awarded at First Nations’ 35th Anniversary Celebration & Honoring event on Sept. 22, 2015, at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The reception and dinner helped kick off First Nations’ annual L.E.A.D. Institute Conference, which is also being held there. First Nations is headquartered in Longmont, Colorado. The honorees were recognized for providing key financial support, expertise and/or guidance to the organization over its three and a half decades. In four cases, the awards were accepted on behalf of the honorees who couldn’t attend. The honorees were:

  • Ford Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Kalliopeia Foundation
  • Comcast NBCUniversal
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • First Nations Founder Rebecca Adamson
  • Mr. & Mrs. Alan Rabinowitz
  • First Nations Board Chair B. Thomas Vigil
  • First Nation Board Vice Chair Marguerite Smith
  • First Nations Board Member Gelvin Stevenson


First Nations’ mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities by investing in and creating innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset-control and support economic development. With the support of individuals, foundations, corporate and tribal donors, First Nations improves economic conditions for Native Americans through technical assistance and training, advocacy and policy, and direct financial grants. At the event, the invocation was provided by the Honorable Milton Herrera, governor of the Pueblo of Tesuque, while Vigil provided an insider’s look back at the critical first years and the growth of the organization. The Honorable Benny Shendo, Jr., a New Mexico state senator and board member of First Nations, emceed the event along with Michael Roberts, president of First Nations. “Many people, tribes, organizations and staff members have played key roles in making First Nations the successful nonprofit it is today, but these honorees have been especially influential and have generated a tremendous, lasting impact, and we’re proud to recognize their significant contributions,” said Roberts. “Their support and guidance has helped strengthen us to well serve even more Native American communities into the future.”

Pictured above are, L to R, Board Member Gelvin Stevenson, New Mexico State Senator and Board Member Benny Shendo, Jr., First Nations President Michael Roberts, Board Vice Chair Marguerite Smith, Frank DeGiovanni of the Ford Foundation, Fred Maahs of Comcast NBCUniversal, Board Chair Thomas Vigil, Livia Marqués of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Alvin Warren of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Photo by Shawna Sunrise.

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