Important update from the Center for Native American Youth: Erin Bailey to Transition to Executive Committee; CNAY to Conduct National Search for New Executive Director

Washington, D.C. (September 1, 2015) – After five years of building and leading the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute (CNAY) as executive director, Erin Bailey will be departing from the executive director role at the close of 2015. Erin will continue to lead CNAY during the transition, and ultimately join the board of advisors and executive committee once the new executive director is on-boarded and the transition is complete. CNAY will begin a national search for a new executive director this fall, working with CNAY’s executive committee and the Aspen Institute.

“The Aspen Institute was proud to welcome Erin and CNAY almost five years ago,” said Elliot Gerson, executive vice president of the Aspen Institute. “Since then, what began as an inspired idea of Senator Byron Dorgan, has blossomed into a leading national platform to improve the lives of the First Americans. This has happened because of the passionate commitment and tireless work of Erin Bailey; she has touched the lives of countless Native children, and positioned CNAY for even greater impact.”

“Erin’s energy, commitment, and passion for serving Native American children and working alongside underserved Native communities has been and will continue to be invaluable to CNAY,” said CNAY founder and chairman, US Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.). “Her work over the last five years has made CNAY successful and set the organization on a path that guarantees its positive impact on the lives of Native American children for many years to come.”

Erin has been instrumental in constructing and executing CNAY’s strategy, securing necessary resources, and building a talented team that’s led to the organization’s success and established a solid foundation for the first-ever national organization dedicated solely to elevating Native American youth voices and priorities. Under Erin’s leadership, notable recognition and accomplishments include:

  • Launched and led a start-up organization, including development and implementation of a strategic vision, execution of programming in Washington and across Indian Country, and most importantly bringing together an incredibly gifted, passionate, and hardworking team that will continue to change lives of many, many Native American youth.
  • Built strong relationships with foundations, tribal governments, and philanthropic leaders that has led to increased attention and resources for CNAY as well as community-led, grassroots projects raising over $3.5 million in new investments.
  • Created a model of advocacy that involves proactively spending time in tribal communities with youth, learning about their strengths and needs through engagement and dialogue, and then translating this learning and outreach into action, including advocacy, policy initiatives, technical assistance, and other resources.
  • Developed small and large-scale programmatic initiatives and public events, including a policy and resource roundtable series that has led to new strategies to address complex challenges.
  • Joined as partners on President Obama’s Generation Indigenous effort, with the White House and the Department of the Interior, developing a National Native Youth Network.

“I am proud of all CNAY has accomplished and incredibly grateful for the time I have had to work with our team, including the staff and board. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to connect with Native youth, their families and communities, many of whom have become members of my family,” commented Erin Bailey. “It is time for me to transition to a role that allows me to spend more time in Minnesota with my immediate family.” 

Throughout the transition, Erin, along with the rest of the staff, board, and new executive director, will work closely to ensure that CNAY’s momentum and impact moves forward. As CNAY enters this new phase, it will continue efforts to proactively reach out to Native youth, advocate for the priorities heard directly from Native youth, and create meaningful connections that help drive change.


CNAY will conduct an aggressive, thoughtful national search for a candidate to succeed Erin that ensures the energy, passion, and progress of the organization continues throughout and after the transition. Erin will remain as CNAY’s executive director through 2015 and continue in a leadership role throughout the transition to a new executive director.

“CNAY has the most amazing team and committed board, and the security and brand of the Aspen Institute,” commented Erin Bailey. “With these leaders, especially Senator Byron Dorgan, in place, I am confident we will identify and embrace a new, talented, highly-qualified individual to build on the progress and foundation built over the last 5 years.”

Following the leadership transition, Senator Byron Dorgan has asked Erin to join the executive committee on CNAY’s Board of Advisors to ensure that her commitment to Native youth and vision for the organization continues in this next phase of the organization.

CNAY has retained LeaderFit to conduct the search. Please direct all questions and inquiries to Shaina Amaya, at samaya@leaderfit.org. Please click here to read the job description and apply (https://leaderfit.catsone.com/careers/index.php?m=portal&a=details&jobOrderID=6001661). 
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