Early Career & Young Professional Development

Leadership Summit

Launched in 2017, the NAFOA Leadership Summit is a unique opportunity for Native American young professionals ages 21-27 to enhance their leadership skills, engage with industry experts, and build a network of like-minded peers. This immersive program empowers emerging leaders interested in tribal governance, economic development, and the business and finance sectors. 

Summit attendees engage directly with tribal leaders and business professionals during a comprehensive day of programming. The agenda includes insightful panel discussions covering diverse topics such as graduate school opportunities, career advancement strategies, as well as discussions on business and tribal economic development.

After the Summit, participants will attend the NAFOA Annual Conference. The two-day conference provides networking opportunities and facilitates important dialogues about tribal finance and economic issues impacting tribal economies.

Young professionals ages 21-27 years old participating in Career Basics are invited to apply for the NAFOA Leadership Summit.

Program Highlights

learn directly from Native professionals & tribal leaders

Summit attendees will spend a full day of programming with speakers from various industries about career pathways, graduate school opportunities, career development, and more. Attendees will also be introduced to business, finance, and tribal economic development topics.

special invites during the nafoa conference

Attendees will also attend the NAFOA Conference following the Leadership Summit.

Leadership Summit attendees will have access to exclusive events at the NAFOA Conference, including the Member Tribe Meeting & Reception, sponsor receptions and events, and the Awards Luncheon.

find career opportunities and build your profesional network

As the youngest attendees at the NAFOA Conference, Summit attendees will have a unique experience engaging with speakers, sponsors, and tribal leaders. Past attendees have received multiple internship, job, and mentoring offers from this exclusive networking opportunity.

Fully Funded Experience

The Leadership Summit funding supports the costs associated with participating in the program. Additionally, a $250.00 clothing stipend is provided, as the dress code for both the NAFOA Leadership Summit and Conference is strictly business formal.

Application Process

Program Details


Fully Funded Program
The Leadership Summit funding supports the costs associated with participation in the program, including travel/transportation, hotel costs, meals, conference registration fees, and the NAFOA Leadership Summit program fees. A $250 clothing stipend to purchase business formal attire will also be provided.


The Leadership Summit will be held Sunday, April 28, 2024.
Following the Summit, attendees will also attend the 42nd NAFOA Conference on April 29-30.

Attendees are required to arrive on Saturday, April 27, and can schedule departures for Wednesday, May 1.

Location & Accommodations

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel
6300 Stirling Rd
Hollywood, FL 33024
The 2024 Leadership Summit will be held in Hollywood, FL. Attendees will be staying in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel for the duration of the Summit and Conference.

Frequently Asked Questions

application questions

Native American young professionals between the ages of 21-27 who are enrolled in Career Basics or nominated by a NAFOA partner or alumni.

All accepted applicants will receive full funding for the program. No additional application or information is needed.

Yes. Nominations from alumni and NAFOA partner organizations allow applicants to skip the Career Basics requirements. However, nominees must still complete the application form. 

Nominations are not a guarantee that you will be accepted into the program.

Applicants must either be enrolled and be actively participating in Career Basics to apply.

Alternatively, NAFOA invites alumni and a select few Native organizations to nominate 1-2 young professionals. Those nominated do not have to complete Career Basics but are encouraged to do so.

If you completed Career Basics within the past 2 years, you may count that towards your current application. Please check with education@nafoa.org for your completion status.

If you registered but did not finish a past session of Career Basics, you will need to register for the current active session.

No, applicants do not have to be enrolled in a member tribe to be eligible to apply.

Yes! We encourage all interested youth ages 18 – 27 to enroll in Career Basics. You can still enroll and participate in Career Basics during the program dates even if you are unable to attend the Leadership Summit.

General Questions

The Summit schedule begins at 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. All program sessions are mandatory. Attendees must also attend the Member Tribe Reception from 5:00-7:00 p.m. 

During the Conference days, Leadership Summit attendees are expected to attend all events from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Additional dinners and receptions may also be added to the schedule.

Schedules are subject to change and attendees are generally expected to be available and in attendance from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Sunday to Tuesday.

If accepted into the program, NAFOA understands the importance of addressing concerns with your employer or school. We can assist by providing a justification letter explaining the program’s value, curriculum, and the professional growth it offers. This letter can serve as a resource to help communicate the significance of your selection in the NAFOA.

The $250 clothing stipend is issued as a reimbursement via check and is intended exclusively for business formal attire. Summit attendees are required to retain and provide receipts as evidence of purchase and are responsible for submitting a reimbursement request.

If you have any concerns about this process, please contact education@nafoa.org.

Yes. NAFOA will handle and coordinate travel arrangements for air, bus, or train transportation to and from the program.

Expenses for ground transportation or driving will be reimbursed.

No, you are not required to share a hotel room with other attendees. Each Leadership Summit participant will have their own hotel room provided for them.

NAFOA will coordinate the booking of hotel rooms and cover the expenses. 

Additional guests are not allowed to stay in participants’ hotel rooms or attend conference events unless they are independently registered for the NAFOA Conference.

If additional accommodations are required, please contact us at education@nafoa.org. We may require documentation to consider the request.

Please email education@nafoa.org for any questions or concerns.

Thank You to Our Donors

The NAFOA Institute’s Leadership Summit, the virtual Career Basics program, and webinars are generously supported by philanthropic donations and individual donors.

To learn more about giving to the NAFOA Institute, email Cody Harjo, Director of Media and Learning Initiatives, at cody@nafoa.org.

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