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Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Organization Cultural Survival appoints New Executive Director

After an exhaustive international search, Cultural Survival’s Board of Directors has named Aimee Roberson as the organization’s new executive director. She is the third Indigenous executive director Cultural Survival has had. She will commence her role on July 1, 2024.

Aimee is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a descendant of the Chickasaw Nation. She comes to Cultural Survival after serving as the Director of American Bird Conservancy’s Southwest Region. Previously, Aimee served as the Coordinator for the Rio Grande Joint Venture, and prior to that worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for many years. Throughout her career, she has worked with people across North America, stewarding ecosystems, protecting biodiversity, and planning for climate change adaptation. Her success in these fields is supported by her Indigenous worldview, her traditional knowledge, and by including Indigenous Peoples in conversations and work in their territories. She has been working at the intersection of conservation and justice in support of Indigenous Peoples. As a co-founder of the Indigenous Kinship Circle, Aimee has helped build solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and bridges with conservationists, scientists, and policymakers.

Aimee has led conservation partnerships in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico — co-creating a vision; integrating cultural values and ecological knowledge to guide science for meaningful decision-making; and implementing shared strategies for stewarding wildlife, water, and ecosystems. Aimee is a lifelong student of Earth’s wisdom and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Macalester College and a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota. Aimee also serves on the boards of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance, and Regalia Making Relatives, and is stepping down from the boards of the Sonoran and Rio Grande Joint Ventures as she transitions into her new role at Cultural Survival.

“I am humbled and extremely excited about this new opportunity. I am passionate about upholding the sovereignty and rights of Indigenous Peoples around the globe so that we and our lifeways, cultures, languages, and the ecosystems we steward can flourish. Within my community, I am learning Chahta anumpa (Choctaw language), practicing traditional arts, growing and preparing traditional foods, and learning and teaching about shared history, values, and responsibilities to care for our land, waters, and plant and animal relatives. I am deeply committed to reciprocity, community, and environmental stewardship.”

“Aimee’s expert knowledge and experience working on elevating Indigenous voices, perspectives, and rights, as well as advocating for Indigenous land rights and stewardship, is aligned with and supportive of Cultural Survival’s mission to advance Indigenous Peoples’ rights and support Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures, and political resilience. We look forward to Aimee’s leadership in carrying on and extending the 52-year history of Cultural Survival’s numerous partnerships with Indigenous nations and in implementing our vision of a future that respects and honors Indigenous Peoples’ inherent rights and dynamic cultures, deeply and richly interwoven in lands, languages, spiritual traditions, and artistic expression, rooted in self-determination and self-governance. Please join us in welcoming Aimee. We would also like to express our profound gratitude to Deputy Executive Director Mark Camp for leading the organization in the last several months through this transition period,” said Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawai’i), President of Cultural Survival’s Board of Directors.

As Cultural Survival is celebrating its 52nd year of working to advance Indigenous rights and pathways, the organization has launched a Leadership Transition Fund to support the new leader and organization to go through the transition period, build on successes, and guide the organization to new work to address the realities of the ever-changing world. Cultural Survival uses a four-pronged approach: Advocacy, Capacity Building, Grantmaking, and Communications, along with primary themes of Lands and Livelihoods, Cultures and Languages, Climate Change Solutions, Indigenous Community Media, and the cross-cutting theme of Women and Youth, to carry out its work. All are invited to support joint efforts and donate to the Leadership Transition Fund and ensure the success and longevity of Cultural Survival.

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