Happy Holidays from NAFOA and Our Alumni!


Happy Holidays from NAFOA and Our Alumni!

December 23, 2020

Happy Holidays from NAFOA and our alumni!  This holiday season, give the gift that keeps on giving with a donation to NAFOA's education programs. Your donation helps support the goals and aspirations of Native students and young professionals, empowering them to strengthen the future of tribes and tribal economies.


Please consider making a donation of $500 or more to support NAFOA Education. A contribution of $500 helps support funding for Native youth to attend and participate in the NAFOA Leadership Summit.

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Keeping up with our Alumni:

Kevin O'Neal-Smith, Leadership Summit Class of 2019

Kevin O'Neal-Smith in AlaskaMy name is Kevin O’Neal-Smith (he/him/his); I am Tlingit and a proud member of the Gaanaxteidí in Klukwan, Alaska. I hold a BA in Economics and Business Administration from Fort Lewis College. I am an Investments & Treasury Analyst at Sealaska Corporations, an Alaska Native Regional Corporation based in Juneau that serves over 22,000 shareholders of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian descent. During my time at the corporation, I have had many opportunities to further my understanding of financial markets and the macroeconomic forces that shift them, including those through NAFOA’s Career Basics and Youth Leadership programs. I also spend my time working with an Alaska-based economic research group.

I participated in NAFOA’s Career Basics and Youth Leadership programs in 2019. This experience was inspiring, thought-provoking, and incredibly rewarding. With a full agenda of interactive workshops, presentations, and discussions lead by Indigenous leaders like Dawson Her Many Horses and Chairman Arlan Melendez that dive into the benefits of business school and the importance of supporting Native communities through investment in health care and education, NAFOA’s career development programs provide an abundance of resources useful to any budding professional. NAFOA’s staff and partners are dedicated, hardworking, and truly inspirational tribal leaders. They showed me that anything is possible and encouraged me to follow a career path that improves the financial wellbeing of not only myself but also the wellbeing of the tribal economies which I hold dear.

However daunting it may seem, meeting your financial goals does not happen in a vacuum. Everyone, myself included, faces a complex and ever-changing political, social, economic landscape that works in tandem with our individual choices to shape our financial outcomes. For Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Native communities, this includes significant structural barriers and historical pain. Native communities experience some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the country. However, through NAFOA’s generous programming, you have the opportunity to expand your understanding of this ever-changing landscape and its influence on the financial well-being of individuals and tribal economies at large.

I encourage those interested in establishing early career success and learning more about the issues that impact our tribal economies to apply to NAFOA’s programs, as these programs are designed to empower Indigenous leaders. To Dante, Cristina, VaRene, Cody, Bettina, Emery, and the entire NAFOA team, I thank you for providing this wonderful opportunity for aspiring leaders to prepare for interviews, practice networking, sharpen skills in finance, and so much more. I am very grateful. Gunalchéesh haa éet yidasheeyí.


This giving season, we’re asking you to support the next Leadership Summit Class with a tax-exempt donation to NAFOA Education. Your contribution makes it possible for us to build up young Native leaders and strengthen investments in the future of tribal economies. 

To make a donation over the phone, please contact Christina Morbelli at 602-466-8697 or christina@nafoa.org.

To make a donation by mail, please mail your contributions to 1101 30th Street, NW Suite 500 Washington, DC 20007. Checks should be made payable to NAFOA.