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.
Neva Morrison - Managing Director
Neva is Cherokee and Skokomish. She and her mother, Rebecca Adamson grew First Peoples Worldwide into the only Indigenous Led organization that works at a grassroots, national and international level for Indigenous communities. Neva has extensive experience in culturally appropriate development, grantmaking, program evaluation. She began her career an advocate for American Indian Gaming tribes but following in her mother’s footsteps is now an advocate for Indigenous Peoples globally. Her husband and their three boys, her meditation and her work are what provide her balance and happiness.
Jacqueline Tiller - Grants and Internship Coordinator
Jacqueline 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. Before joining First Peoples, Jackie worked in progressively responsible positions in the grantmaking department of the US-based First Nations Development Institute to meet the needs of Native American tribes and nonprofit groups. As the Associate Director of Training and Technical Assistance, she provided 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.
Chante’ Smith - Office Manager
Chante Smith comes to First Peoples Worldwide with an extensive Human Resources and Executive Administration background. Her 13 years of Human Resources experience includes working in a Generalist role for both the Profit and Non-Profit arena. She has enjoyed working in the areas of Employee Relations, Compensation, Benefits Administration, Organizational Development, Recruiting and Training and Development. She had worked to support Executive Staff with her attention to detail and ability to streamline process and procedure. She has been successful in supporting company operations and maintaining office efficiency by taking responsibility for the organization and coordination of office operations, procedures and resources to facilitate organizational effectiveness. She is the proud Mom of two sons and one daughter and enjoys Yoga and Shopping.
Katie Cheney - Communications Assistant, Field Associate
Katie joined the First Peoples Worldwide team in July 2011, after completing a brief internship with FPW. She graduated from Penn State University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology, minoring in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies. Originally from Houston, TX, Katie has worked on communications, development, advocacy, and program development for FPW over the past year. Katie will be the project manager for our upcoming work with the San of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve in fall 2012. She enjoys travelling and spending time outside.
Nick Pelosi - Grants Assistant
Nick began working for First Peoples Worldwide in August of 2012. He graduated from Hunter College in 2011, where he studied political science and media. Prior to joining the First Peoples team, he helped manage a renewable energy initiative on an organic farm, interned with an organization that provides consulting services to student food cooperatives, and did volunteer advocacy work for the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia. He enjoys reading, travel and gardening.
Britnae Purdy - Grants and Communications Intern
Britnae joined FPW in June 2012 working closely with both the grants and communications departments. Britnae is a rising senior at the University of Mary Washington, where she is pursuing a double-major in International Affairs and Women’s and Gender Studies, with a concentration in Asian Studies. She hopes to continue on to graduate school and eventually a career in peace-building, community development, and women’s empowerment.
Kenzie Mann - Grants Assistant
Kenzie is a rising junior at Elon University, where she is majoring in International Studies (concentration in Latin America) and minoring in Spanish and Religious Studies. She recently studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador, where she first became interested in Indigenous.rights. She plans to return to South America in 2013 to study in Chile and Ecuador. Kenzie is considering a career in human rights law or advocacy, and she enjoys reading, eating ice cream, and riding her bike to the office every day.
Rachel Martin - Intern
Rachel Martin is a junior and an International Affairs major with a concentration in Latin American studies at Mary Washington. She hopes to learn more about Indigenous Peoples’ rights through her internship at First Peoples Worldwide, as well as develop her translation skills. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering, hiking, camping, and spending time with friends.
Prarthana Gurung - Intern
Prarthana is a recent graduate from the University of Mary Washington, and with her degree in International Affairs and Spanish, she set out to the big city. Now in Queens, New York, Prarthana is working as an executive assistant at a non-profit, Adhikaar, working with the newly settled Nepali-speaking immigrant community. As an intern at First Peoples Worldwide her last semester in school, she was able to further her interests in working with marginalized peoples' rights, a common stream she has discovered in her professional life thus far.
Mark Betancourt - Media Consultant
Mark is a freelance writer and filmmaker with a diverse background in print media, television, radio and documentary film. He began working with First Peoples Worldwide in the summer of 2011, writing grantee highlight material, web copy and other press materials. In the spring of 2012 he produced “Now We Are Hungry,” FPW’s short video on climate change and Indigenous communities. Mark continues to serve FPW’s mission to be a powerful and motivating voice of the global Indigenous movement. He lives in Washington, D.C. with the love of his life, with whom he plays in a baroque pop band called The Waltz Brigade.