The National Congress of American Indians gave its the 2010 Public Sector Leadership Award to the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy at the University of Arizona.
The award came at NCAI's 12th Annual Leadership Awards Banquet on March 1 in Washington, D.C. NNI shared the award with the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. NNI and the Harvard Project share staff and work closely together.
The National Congress, or NCAI, the largest and oldest organization of Indigenous nations in the US, honored the two organizations and their leadership "for groundbreaking research and technical assistance in partnership with and for the benefit of Native Nations."
Stephen Cornell, UA professor of sociology and director of the UA's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, of which NNI is a part, and co-director of the Harvard Project, accepted the award on behalf of the two organizations, their researchers and staff.
"It has been a privilege for all of us at both organizations to be able to do work that is of practical use to Native nations as they address tough political, economic, and social challenges. This award indicates that this work has had an impact where it matters most-in Indian Country," Cornell said.
Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard and currently a visiting professor at the UA's Eller College of Management, founded the Harvard Project in 1986. Cornell joined the Arizona faculty in 1998.
The Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation, along with the University, established NNI, building on and expanding Harvard Project work. The Udall Foundation has been NNI's primary funder.
NNI serves as a resource for self-determination, governance and development to Indigenous peoples through research, executive education programs, publications, strategic consultation, programs for Indigenous youth and other activities. NNI has worked with Indigenous nations and organizations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Latin America.
The institute has helped Indigenous leaders and managers document successful community development and governance programs. It also helps decision makers access the kinds of information and analytical resources that policy makers at the state and federal levels take for granted.
Cornell said the Udall Foundation has been "absolutely essential" for NNI including a number of Arizona faculty and staff who have shaped NNI's work from its beginnings, including Manley Begay, faculty chair of NNI, senior lecturer in the UA's American Indian Studies Program and a co-director of the Harvard Project; Joan Timeche, executive director of NNI; and Miriam Jorgensen, research director at both NNI and Harvard.