Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate givers working to strengthen philanthropy and citizen action, has awarded Rebecca Adamson, founder and president of First Nations Development Institute, its 2001 John W. Gardner Leadership Award.
The award recognizes Adamson's work in moving Native Americans toward self-determination through the grantmaking and technical assistance programs of the Institute, which she founded in 1980. Under Adamson's leadership, First Nations has created the first reservation-based micro-enterprise loan fund in the U.S. to address Native American economic development.
"This award honors an outstanding American who exemplifies the leadership and ideals of John W. Gardner," said Independent Sector president and CEO Sara E. Meléndez. "Rebecca Adamson's leadership and commitment to empower under-served communities should inspire us all. She is a testament to the truth that one person can make a difference in the lives of thousands of people."
Through her work, Adamson — a Cherokee — has helped to establish the first tribal investment model; a national movement for reservation land reform; and legislation that set new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans.
The John W. Gardner Leadership Award recognizes an American working in or with the voluntary sector, institutions, and causes whose work has national or international impact in his or her field and contributes to the common good. Since 1999, the John W. Gardner Leadership Award has been supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundations. Ms. Adamson will be presented with an award statuette and $10,000 at Independent Sector's annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia in November.