Rebecca Adamson - Founder and President

Rebecca Adamson, a Cherokee economist, is Founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide. A leader, activist, and ground-breaking Indigenous woman, Rebecca has a distinct perspective on how Indigenous Peoples’ value and economic systems can transform today’s business models. She utilizes the wisdom and paradigms of Indigenous economics, advocacy, and engagement of corporate social responsibility as tools to catalyze change.

Rebecca has worked directly with grassroots tribal communities, and nationally as an advocate of local tribal issues, since 1970. She started First Nations Development Institute in 1980 and First Peoples Worldwide in 1997. Rebecca's work established a new field of culturally appropriate, values-driven development to establish the first reservation-based microenterprise loan fund in the United States, the first tribal investment model, a national movement for reservation land reform, and legislation that established new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans.

Rebecca is active in many non-profit organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for The Bay and Paul Foundations, the Calvert Social Investment Fund (the largest socially responsible mutual fund), the Calvert Group Governance Committee, and Co-chairs the Calvert Social Investment Fund Audit Committee. She served as an advisor to the United Nations on Rural Development and as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations' International Labor Organization for International Indigenous Rights.

Rebecca co-authored The Color of Wealth, published in 2006.She holds a Masters in Science in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (formerly New Hampshire College) in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she has also taught a graduate course on Indigenous Economics within the Community Economic Development Program.

Over past two decades, Rebecca has received numerous awards for her work with Indigenous Peoples, including the 2004 Schwab Outstanding Social Entrepreneur and a Doctor in Humane Letters degree from Dartmouth College. She is honored in the National Women’s History Project, and was chosen as one of America’s most influential women as part of the PBS program MAKERS: Women Who Make America. Makers will premiere in early 2013. Rebecca will speak at the Bioneers Conference in the fall of 2012, and deliver a TEDx Manhattan lecture in February 2013.

Above all else, Rebecca loves spending time hanging out with her dogs, Jack and Cajun, and playing with her grandsons.

Jacqueline Tiller - Administrative Manager

Jackie Tiller is Tlingit Indian and Filipino. She was born and raised in Southeast Alaska where she began her professional life working as an assistant for her tribal economic development office. She joined First Peoples Worldwide in 2007 as the office coordinator, helping to bring structure and systems to the organization, with emphasis on the then-nascent Keepers of the Earth Fund. She accepted the Grants and Internship Coordinator position in 2010, and moved into the Administrative Manager position in March 2014. Before joining First Peoples, Jackie worked for over a decade in progressively responsible positions in the grantmaking department of US-based First Nations Development Institute, meeting the financial, training, technical and information needs of Native American tribes and nonprofit groups. As the Associate Director of Training and Technical Assistance, she was actively engaged in grant decision-making, and providing training, technical assistance, and referrals to Native community projects across the US. She is a past board member of Native Americans in Philanthropy and the Community Food Security Coalition, and has participated on several Federal grant review panels advocating for Indigenous community projects. Her educational background is in business management and administration.

Nick Pelosi - Corporate Engagement Manager

Nick began working for First Peoples Worldwide in 2012.  Nick was involved in developing the risk metrics used in First Peoples’ Indigenous Rights Risk Report, a tool designed to assess investment risks related to resource extraction on Indigenous lands. He has helped organize trainings for companies, shareholders, and community leaders on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and assisted with Indigenous outreach and consultation for the UN Global Compact’s Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He has a BA in Political Science from Hunter College.

Katie Cheney - Communications Manager

Originally from Houston, TX, Katie Cheney started working with FPW as a Communications Assistant in 2011 after completing her Bachelor’s degree at Penn State University in Anthropology, with two minors in Women’s Studies and Religious Studies. In 2012 Katie transitioned into a Field Associate role and traveled to Botswana to conduct a needs assessment with the Indigenous San of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. After some soul-searching on the Appalachian Trail, she returned to Tulane University in pursuit of her master’s degree in International Development in 2013, where she has specialized in GIS, rural water systems, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Katie recently rejoined the FPW team in October 2014 as Communications Manager.

Ela Aravelo - Grants Assistant

Ela began her internship with First Peoples Worldwide in June of 2014 and started her employment at First Peoples in August of the same year. Her Ecuadorian and Guatemalan background was her motivation to be able to learn and work with different cultures. She started at First Peoples as a junior at the University of Mary Washington and is now a senior pursuing a BA in International Affairs with a minor in Business Spanish. Growing up with a father in the military gave her the opportunity to live and travel abroad for 12 years which fuels her passion to continue travelling and learning about the world around her.

Anna Huntington-Kriska - Program Manager

Anna “Annie” Huntington-Kriska, Koyukon Athabascan, became involved in community development over forty years ago as tribal clerk for her tribe in Alaska. Since then, Annie’s professional roles grew to involve program and business management, accounting, tribal development, curriculum development, program evaluation, grant making, proposal writing, grants management, contracts and risk management, and development and delivery of specialized training programs. She notes her most exciting and most rewarding work was providing “engaged grant making” for a national Native grant maker and in essence provided training and technical assistance to tribes throughout the United States. Her community contributions over the years include: advisor on various committees and as tribal advisor to various local, state and federal agencies including the Association for Proposal Management Professionals, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Education, and several U.S. Department of Health & Human Services programs. She also served as tribal council member for her tribe, board member for her Alaska village corporation, and board member for a large school district in Alaska. Annie owns and operates a small business Huntington-Kriska Associates, LLC dba Community Dreams into Action which provides business and community development planning and curriculum development and training to developing tribal organizations and communities worldwide. As a consulting advisor, she has create curriculum and delivered numerous workshops and training sessions to tribal communities and organizations serving Indigenous peoples.

E-mail Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Twitter

Apply for a Grant

To request funding for your Indigenous-led community project, apply for a Keepers of the Earth grant now.

Start Application

Fund a Project

Donate funds to get one of our grantee projects off the ground.

Fund a Project

From Our Blog

  • Everything Is Connected: Tla-o-qui-aht People and Climate Change

    This article has been reposted from Cultural Survival Quarterly 39-1 Upholding Indigenous Rights Is Good Business (March 2015) By Gleb Raygorodetsky When Canada created the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in the 1970s, the government did not consult with the Tla-o-qui-aht people and other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, whose traditional territories it subsumed. […]

    Read More
  • Social and Emotional Well-Being of First Peoples: How it’s different, why it’s important, and what’s being done about it

    By Elizabeth Gunggoll Is there a half life on historical trauma? Or in other words, as Mike Myers discussed this question in an Indian Country Today article, will 500 years suffice for North America’s First Peoples to surpass countless murders, the loss of Indigenous civilizations, languages and cultures, as well as Indigenous agricultural economies that began […]

    Read More
  • Keeping Tabs on Country Risk

    In 2014, the Western Australian government announced that up to 150 of the state’s remote Aboriginal communities might be closed because their “lifestyle choices” are not financially viable. The announcement met strong criticism from Aboriginal leaders, who fear that the government will begin eliminating basic services, such as electricity and water, for these communities, forcing […]

    Read More
Visit Our Blog