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Recent gifts will significantly expand the impact of the Harvard Kennedy School Project on Indigenous Governance and Development

Cambridge, Mass. — Harvard Kennedy School has received over $15 million in gifts that will support a major expansion of the work of the Harvard Kennedy School Project on Indigenous Governance and Development, previously known as the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, at the School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. The gifts will fund a new professorship, programming initiatives, and a senior fellowship, all focused on enhancing the Project’s role in practical research, teaching, leadership development, and policy analysis with Native communities. The announcement of these gifts coincides with this month’s celebration to recognize this support.

The gifts come from a diverse group of donors, including The Endeavor Foundation, Inc.; the Chickasaw Nation; Joseph P. Kalt and Judith K. Gans; the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; and the Circle of Supporters, an advisory board of the project.

“Through research as well as outreach and engagement with Indigenous nations and communities, the Harvard Kennedy School Project on Indigenous Governance and Development models the School’s mission of improving public policy and leadership,” said Douglas Elmendorf, the Kennedy School’s Dean. “The generosity of our donors allows us to strengthen and expand our work with Native communities in meaningful ways, and we are grateful for this support.”

All finalized within the past year, the gifts consist of endowed funds to provide a strong foundation for ongoing initiatives, research, and hiring, as well as current-use funds to meet the immediate needs of the Project, which is being renamed to reflect the global scale of its development work with Indigenous communities.

“The Harvard Kennedy School Project on Indigenous Governance and Development was my sole reason for choosing HKS for my master's degree program,” said the Honorable Karen Diver, Senior Advisor to the President on Native American Affairs, University of Minnesota; former Special Assistant to the President on Native American Affairs, The White House; and, former Chairwoman, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. “At the time, it was the only program in the country that focused its research on the strengths and opportunities for tribal nations across Indian Country. I took that learning home and to Washington, D.C. and used it regularly to build my Nation. The Project continues to have the utmost respect and credibility across Indian Country—and this new support will make it even stronger.”

The expanded work will include public policy and public administration research and teaching to advance governance, leadership, and economic and social well-being in Indigenous communities and nations; field research projects, documentation and dissemination of examples of outstanding tribal governmental performance; and advancing innovative and longstanding work on the governance and development of Indigenous nations and communities.

“This is an important moment in the history of Harvard Kennedy School,” said Megan Minoka Hill, Oneida Nation WI; Senior Program Director, Harvard Kennedy School Project on Indigenous Governance and Development; and Director, Honoring Nations. “With these endowments, the School is committing itself to supporting Indigenous governance and development in perpetuity, and providing a place to welcome and honor the voices and perspectives of tribal leaders across Indian Country, alongside all world leaders. It is an incredible validation of the impact of the Project’s 35 years of research and teaching—done in partnership with tribal nations—to support Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty.”

Details on the gifts:

  • The Endeavor Foundation gift will establish the Julie Johnson Kidd Professorship of Indigenous Governance and Development Endowment Fund. The professorship will be awarded to an eminent scholar in the field of Indigenous governance and development. The professor will focus on public policy, leadership, and economic and social well-being in Indigenous communities and nations.
  • A gift from the Chickasaw Nation will establish the Ittapila Program for Nation Building Education and Outreach Endowment Fund. “Ittapila” means “to help one another” in the Chickasaw language, and this fund will support student engagement as part of the Project’s innovative work on governance and development within Indigenous nations and communities.
  • A gift from Joseph P. Kalt and Judith K. Gans will establish the endowed Senior Fellowship of Indigenous Governance and Development Endowment Fund. Kalt is the Ford Foundation Professor (Emeritus) of International Political Economy and has led the Project for more than 35 years. The fellowship will be overseen by the Ash Center and is intended to bring senior leaders to the School to advance the Project’s work with students and community and national leaders in Indigenous affairs.
  • A gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will support the Project’s nation building research and tribal outreach, including field research projects, leadership education, and documentation and dissemination of  examples of excellence in tribal governmental.

The Circle of Supporters is an advisory council to the Project. Its membership contributes annual funding for programmatic support including, but not limited, to ongoing outreach and research.

Media Contact
Dan Harsha