Indigenous and Native American leaders will take the Summit’s main stage

WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) is pleased to contribute to the first-ever Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver, building on the IX Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles with a more local focus. As the only US government agency exclusively focused on community-led development in the Americas, the IAF has long been a pioneer in supporting local leaders addressing global challenges.

“Congress founded the IAF in 1969 on the visionary idea that communities should be in charge of their own development,” states IAF President & CEO Sara Aviel, who is leading the agency’s delegation. “The Cities Summit is a recognition of everything we’ve learned over the past half century: that the people most affected by problems often come up with the most effective and inclusive solutions. We are delighted to participate in the Cities Summit along with so many distinguished leaders who share our commitment to making progress at the local level. Community-led work is strategic, relevant, and essential to tackling the seemingly intractable challenges our region faces, and I look forward to making the case that it deserves increased investment at the Cities Summit.”

The IAF is convening the morning plenary session for Friday, April 28, Strengthening Native American and Indigenous Collaborative Partnerships with Municipalities. Following a welcome from Colorado Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera and a recorded greeting from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, audience members will hear opening remarks from Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, the expert advisor to the IAF’s Indigenous Exchange, and Aviel. The panel includes two experts from Indigenous IAF grantees in Latin America and the Caribbean and two experts from U.S. Tribal organizations:

— Quechua leader Gilda López Reynaldes with Fundación TIERRA has advanced participatory budgeting with the municipal government of Chuquisaca, Bolivia, resulting in double the funding to support agricultural businesses.
— Stacia Morfin is the founder of Nez Perce Tourism and has built strong cultural tourism and handicrafts businesses in partnership with entities like the U.S. Forest Service to bring income to Nimiipuu communities in Idaho.
— Mama Ascensión Velasco Montaño, the first female governor of the Cabildo Indígena del Resguardo de Guambia, has also served on the local council in Silvia, Colombia, and promoted Indigenous women’s civic participation.
— Maggie Lorenz is the Executive Director of Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi which has been partnering with the city of St. Paul to build a nature sanctuary drawing from traditional ecological knowledge.

López Reynaldes and Velasco Montaño will also bring their expertise on inclusive municipal finance and civic processes to high-level roundtables.

Aviel will also be the keynote speaker for the panel The Rise of Young Entrepreneurs in Digital Businesses in the Americas in the Cities Summit of the Americas for Youth on Thursday, April 27. Aviel will share insights on fostering inclusion through connectivity to promote micro business growth and other development priorities. She will be accompanied on the panel by young entrepreneurs and leaders including María del Mar Jaramillo, the founder of Fundación Soy Oportunidad and past winner of the IAF’s InnovAction talent and innovation competition in partnership with the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT).

The IAF is proud to renew its partnership with YABT to support youth entrepreneurship and civic participation. In a ceremonial signing to renew the partnership, the IAF and YABT will collect expressions of interest from mayors and cities looking to expand opportunities for young social entrepreneurs.

Finally, the IAF is also convening representatives of Indigenous and Tribal Nations in a Summit side event at Redline Contemporary Art Center on Thursday, April 27.

In addition to bringing grassroots civil society leaders to the Cities Summit, the IAF is on track to fulfill its commitment to U.S. deliverables for the Summit of the Americas. To date, the IAF has channeled $25.2 million of its $75 million IX Summit commitment in new funding to 141 locally-based, community-led organizations representing underserved populations. The IAF is also continuing to support the development of the Central American Service Corps by connecting its network of civil society grantees in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) is a nimble and transformative U.S. government agency that invests in community-led development across Latin America and the Caribbean. The agency directly engages local leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in underserved areas to create more prosperous, peaceful, and democratic communities. The IAF’s active portfolio includes approximately 400 projects in 27 countries.

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