In its mission to strengthen Native American nonprofit organizations, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) hosted a two-day Adaptive Leadership seminar in the Denver area in late June 2014. About 25 participants from nearby American Indian organizations were invited to attend for free.
Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt and thrive in challenging environments. It is being able, both individually and collectively, to take on the gradual but meaningful process of adaptation. It is about diagnosing the essential from the expendable and bringing about a real challenge to the status quo. (Definition from Cambridge Leadership Associates.)
Attendees included staff members of First Nations, the American Indian College Fund, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Notah Begay III Foundation, Spirit of the Sun, the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce, and First Nations Oweesta Corporation.
Dr. Timothy Begaye led the seminar. He is a technical advisor to First Nations and serves as the director of education programs and special assistant to the provost at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, New Mexico. Prior to his work at Navajo Technical University, Tim was faculty chair at the Center for Diné Teacher Education and an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Arizona State University. He also served as a teaching fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he taught courses on adaptive leadership and Native Nation Building. He holds a doctorate in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and assists colleges and universities in integrating Indigenous pedagogy both in the U.S. and abroad. His current research focuses on contemporary cultural challenges in Indigenous communities, social and cultural adaptation, and adaptive leadership.
The seminar was informative and thought-provoking. Participants found the training applicable to their own work and relevant to the constituents they serve. Over the course of two days, attendees learned how to use adaptive leadership strategies to diagnose and address problems or issues in their organizations, programs or communities.