End of Year Staff Reflections – Strength & Indigenization of NACDI’s Structure

A man, Robert Lilligran, stands in front of a microphone addressing an audience. In the background, a DJ leans over their setup
Robert Lilligran, President and CEO, addresses the community at the 2023 Open House.

Contemporary Native people are famous for our resilience. This last year at NACDI we have put this resilience to good use in supporting our communities’ ability to not only survive, but to thrive.

Our priorities have become clearer, as taught to us by Native Elders and cultural carriers. We have learned that we can best serve our people by taking care of ourselves first, our families second, and our community (the organization) third. This has been a challenging path. Our Indigenized approach is different from how many of us have been conditioned.

In January 2020 (just before Covid), NACDI began a four year process of implementing a new business model, our “Change Plan”. We created this plan over the previous three and a half years. The Plan is an expression of how to strengthen and Indigenize our organization to best serve our communities and to amplify our impacts. Our re-embracing this Indigenous approach has been transformational to NACDI. Our team members come to work every day taking care of themselves, and knowing that their families are cared for, too. Because of this, our capacity expands and we find synergies among the ever-changing roles we play in the organization and in the world.

Throughout 2023 we have built a new organizational structure that reflects this approach. We have better iterated the agency each NACDI employee has to express their leadership. For example, we have reinforced a new Storytelling Team that works across programs and divisions. This team turbo-charged our ability to tell the story of NACDI, and the communities we serve, while emphasizing one of our traditional ways. The strength of telling the community’s, and NACDI’s, stories – in our Indigenous ways – strengthens our relationships and allows us to amplify our positive impacts.

Robert Lilligran, President and CEO

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