On February 23, the Center for Native American Youth held its fifth anniversary reception in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians’ Executive Council Winter Session. The reception was attended by more than 180 guests, including representatives of partner organizations, tribal leaders, tribal youth, federal partners, and other national stakeholders. During the reception, CNAY Founder and Chairman Senator Byron Dorgan welcomed CNAY’s new Executive Director Erik Stegman, and introduced each of the 2016 Champions for Change and applauded their impactful work to address critical issues in their communities.
The Champions spoke about the importance of supporting indigenous youth leadership and encouraged the audience to get involved in making a positive difference for current and future generations. CNAY Board members Ernie Stevens, Jr., Patty Talahongva, Brian Cladoosby, Allison Binney, and Sam McCracken presented each of the Champions with a medal in recognition of their efforts.
US Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave remarks during the reception and praised the dedication and passion of the 2016 Champions.
In appreciation of her support of Native youth, CNAY presented Secretary Jewell with the title of Honorary Champion for Change. Following Secretary Jewell’s remarks, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) thanked the Champions for their work and expressed her support for Native youth taking initiative to be positive change agents in their communities.
Since its launch in 2011, CNAY has become a national leader in identifying, elevating and advocating for the priorities of Native American youth. CNAY’s advocacy model centers on direct engagement with Native youth in the tribal and urban Indian communities, which includes more than 40 roundtable conversations with youth in 23 states. Through community outreach and an extensive online network, CNAY has connected with over 5,000 indigenous youth during its first five years of operation. CNAY extends special thanks to the community and tribal leaders, national advocacy organizations, federal agencies, extraordinary Native youth leaders and other invested stakeholders who share our commitment to improve the health, safety and well-being of Native youth in the United States.