In 2012, TCLI was pleased to enter into partnership with the national affinity group Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) to design and deliver the Circle of Leadership Academy (COLA). Essentially, TCLI and NAP merged their leadership models to create this new model designed to enhance and empower Native American leadership in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. Workshops, webinars, networking and coaching were designed to support emerging and mid-level Native American leaders in these fields.

As Native American leadership continued to be developed across the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, it was imperative to provide emerging and mid-level leaders with the tools necessary for future success.  The kinds and complexity of challenges these leaders encountered and the number of areas in which they require additional skills and knowledge enhancement was ever-growing.  The volume of anticipated leadership within these sectors over the next five years indicated that a narrow window of opportunity existed to prepare pending leadership. The empowerment of Native American leadership was an essential factor toward building healthy and sustainable communities enhanced by the Native spirit of generosity.

COLA was kicked off on April 24, 2012 at the NAP Annual Institute in Los Angeles, California after completion of a “Call for Applications” and participant selection process. COLA leaders from each of the seven NAP Regions (45 COLA leaders total) were trained over the scope of 18 months in national summits and regional convenings. Each participant completed a Career Action Plan. Emerging leaders were defined as individuals on the verge of creating and leading real change in their community. Mid-career leaders were defined as individuals creating and leading real change but seeking leadership development opportunities to further hone their skills.

COLA Goals

  • Foster leadership skills rooted in Native values and traditions.
  • Introduce the most up-to-date practices of philanthropic and nonprofit leadership.
  • Expand the understanding of career options and development of skills required for an effective career in philanthropy or nonprofit work.
  • Provide an in-depth look at the role of philanthropy and the nonprofit in Native communities.
  • Broaden and deepen the understanding of issues affecting Native communities on a regional and national basis.
  • Establish a leadership pipeline connected to an engaged network of NAP and TCLI partners and allies.
  • Major knowledge enhancement – curriculum areas include community leadership and governance, organizational development, financial management, program development, fundraising, grant-making, communications and evaluation.
  • All offered within the context of culturally appropriate trainings and interactions.