CEO & Advocate for Indigenous People
Who is Sarah Echohawk?
Sarah Echohawk is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). But before that, Sarah is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. She has been dedicated to empowering Native Americans through STEM, education, and even more ways for as long as she can remember. She worked for the First Nations Development Institute, a nonprofit organization serving Native American communities throughout the United States. Before she worked there, Echohawk worked for the American Indian College Fund, supporting tribal colleges. All of that experience is what Echohawk uses to make AISES the best it can be.
It has a network of K-12 schools — 230 to be exact! Throughout the college level, AISES has 198 chapters in the United States and in Canada. It focuses on student engagement and success, career support, and workplace development. And workplace development is becoming more and more necessary in this age. The United States needs millions of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs in the upcoming years to ensure the progression of not only the economy, but people nationwide.
Sarah Echohawk believes the solution to this growing problem is supporting Native Americans and their exploration of the STEM field. “The Indigenous worldview is about the collective. It’s about the community and the whole,” she says. “Indigenous people bring a unique approach to problem solving and working within teams. Indigenous people walk in two worlds – their traditional view and the mainstream view. That brings a unique perspective to a team and approach to a problem. There is value there.”
She believes these values are important to making progress in innovation, Native American people, employers, and society. But she didn’t start this way, smart girls. Ms. Echohawk holds a Master of Nonprofit Management degree from Regis University and her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Native American Studies from Metropolitan State University in Denver. She also attended law school at the University of Colorado.
Any kind of change means knowing how to make it. Knowing anything takes learning.
3 Things We Love About Sarah Echohawk?
The AISES annual conference, which has a college and career fair, has over 2,000 average participant rate and over 250 exhibitors.
For workforce development, AISES holds regular meetings with employers and educational institutions.
Since Sarah Echohawk became the CEO of AISES, the budget has grown from $2.5 million to $10 million. Its staff has gone from eight to forty! It shows how much you can do with time, patience, and dedication.