Established in 1985 to honor IS founding chair John W. Gardner, the annual award recognizes an individual whose leadership in the nonprofit community has been transformative; who has mobilized people, institutions, or a cause that improves the lives of others; and who exemplifies the leadership and ideals of the award's namesake.
An early champion of the vital connection between access to capital, financial literacy, and economic security, Black led the development in the mid-1990s of financial education curricula used by hundreds of Native organizations and communities. She also has championed numerous philanthropic efforts to address Native causes, particularly tribal and Native community control of local economies, lands, and cultural assets.
Widely credited for the development and expansion of organizations working to lift the sovereignty and contributions of Native American communities, Black, a member of the Oglala Lakota nation, is celebrated for her leadership of the First Nations Development Institute (FNDI), a Native nonprofit that works to strengthen Native control of Native assets, and during her twenty-year tenure there was instrumental in developing the first research on the critical role that Native nonprofit organizations play in community and economic development. A trustee for the Native American Agriculture Fund, she also chairs the First Peoples Fund, which supports efforts to honor and enable the collective spirit of First Peoples artists and culture bearers to bring about transformational change in Native communities, and is board vice president of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, which dedicates a third of its grants and programming to higher education for indigenous peoples.
"[Black] has dedicated more than forty years to addressing issues that impact vulnerable communities, and in particular, to advancing the well-being of Native peoples and breaking down barriers that impede full realization of their right to self-determination," said Independent Sector president and CEO Daniel J. Cardinali. "Of equal importance, she has been a leading force in expanding philanthropic support for Native communities and creating systemic change to help indigenous and other disenfranchised communities thrive."