CNAY Welcomes Former U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to Advisory Board

The Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute is proud to welcome former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to its Board of Advisors.

Jewell has been a longtime advocate for tribes and Native American youth. During the Obama Administration, she was instrumental in supporting the President’s cross-sector Generation Indigenous initiative to decrease barriers and increase opportunity for young Native Americans. While working alongside tribal leaders to address challenges with Indian education, environmental protections, and tribal consultation measures, Jewell also worked to make the Administration more accessible to Native youth. She regularly held dialogues with young people about federal policies and played a critical role in supporting the Obama White House Tribal Nations Conferences and Tribal Youth Gatherings. 

“Secretary Jewell knows all too well the disparities that Native American youth face,” says former Senator and CNAY Founder Byron Dorgan. “She has been a leader in helping Native American youth as they work to improve their lives and improve the communities in which they live. We look forward to working with the Secretary to ensure that these remarkable young people have all the tools they need to succeed.” 

Among Jewell’s top priorities during her time as Secretary was working with Congress to increase funding for the Bureau of Indian Education so that Native youth have safe and supportive learning environments. In addition to developing new grant programs to promote tribal control of education, Jewell worked within the Administration to restructure the BIE so that tribes are in the lead when assessing their needs and determining the best education strategies for their youth. Though she feels that the Obama administration made considerable progress in improving the government-to-government relationship between the United States and tribes, Jewell says that ensuring Native youth have the same opportunities as other young Americans still feels like “unfinished business”. 

“When I left the Administration, I knew that Native youth throughout the United States still weren’t being well-served, and that’s not something I could live with,” says Jewell. “What was most important about what we accomplished through Generation Indigenous was connecting Native American youth to one another so that they can build powerful networks of like-minded leaders and address the big issues in their communities. The Center for Native American Youth has continued that work, empowering tribal youth to bring their voices to the table in a way that impacts policy. I’m excited to work with an organization that provides a platform for Native youth to connect with each other, take pride in their heritage, advocate for things that are important for them and maintain momentum for improvements in education and opportunity.” 

Erik Stegman, Executive Director of CNAY, also looks forward to continuing the momentum. “We are thrilled with the addition of Secretary Jewell to our Board of Advisors,” said Stegman. “She has a unique and personal commitment to our Native youth leaders. We’re excited to leverage her insight and tremendous passion for our work.” 

“Here at The Aspen Institute, it’s imperative that we engage leaders like former Secretary Jewell, who have strong ties to the communities we serve,” commented Aspen Institute Executive Vice President Elliott Gerson. “Sally’s ability to work across the aisle to garner support for Native American tribes and youth uniquely positions her to help carry this work forward in a meaningful way.”