Rebecca Adamson

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Rebecca Adamson (1950-) Native American Advocate

"A member of the Cherokee nation, in 1980 Adamson founded the First Nations Development Institute. This group has established new standards of accountability regarding federal responsibility and reservation land reform and has an operating budget of about three million dollars. Adamson has aided indigenous peoples in Australia and Africa also and has received many awards for mobilizing and unifying people to solve common problems." [1]

"In 1970, Adamson dropped out of the University of Akron and she became involved with a group that fought to diminish the era of removing Native children from their homes and placing them within a boarding school run by the Federal government. These schools mandated the children to abandon their tribal cultures and beliefs, and their native languages. In 1975, Congress passed the Indian Education Self-Determination Act, allowing the Indigenous People to legally run their own schools. It was during this process that Adamson recognized the all-important need of also having the Native population become economically self-sufficient.

After working with various ideas of how to develop small businesses that would allow Native Americans to make their way out of poverty without them having to abandon their culture, Adamson courageously made a life-changing decision. As a single mother she ventured to New York City with cash from her unemployment check and requested grants from various organizations. After meeting with several others, the Ford Foundation finally bestowed upon her $25,000. She then set off for Fredricksburg, Virginia to put her beliefs into action and began The First Nations Financial Project, a nonprofit organization. Later, in 1990, the organization was renamed First Nations Development Institute...

"Adamson is on the Board of Directors for the Calvert Social Investment Fund (the largest family of socially responsible funds), as well as Calvert Small Cap Fund. She serves on the Calvert Group Governance Committee, and Co-chairs the Calvert Social Investment Fund Audit Committee. Adamson helped co-founded the Calvert High Social Impact Investments, which was the first financial instrument whereby mutual fund shareholders and other individual investors could invest in community development loan funds. Offered in October 1990, it now has placed over $25 million in community and micro loan funds throughout the world. She is on the Board of Director for Tom's of Maine, and Chairs the Tom's of Maine Audit Committee.

"Adamson is active in non-profit organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Corporation for Enterprise Development, and Council on Foundations. She serves on the Council on Foundations' Robert W. Scrivner Award Committee for 2001. She is part of the Executive Session in Philanthropy, the Board of Advisors for SeaChange, and the National Editorial Advisory Circle for Indian Country Today.

"Adamson is the 2001 recipient of the John W. Gardner Leadership Award, which honors outstanding Americans who exemplify the leadership of individuals working in the voluntary sector who build, mobilize, or unify people, institutions, or causes. Adamson was awarded the Council on Foundations 1996 Robert W. Scrivner Award for creative and innovative grantmaking and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development's 1996 Jay Silverheels Award. In addition, she was named by Ms. Magazine as one of their seven "Women of the Year" (1997), and in 1998, she was named as one of the top ten Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by Who Cares magazine. Her monthly column written for Indian Country Today is devoted to alternative economic development and other issues.

"She has previously served on the Board of Directors for: the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; Council on Foundations Management and Investment Committee, President's Council on Sustainable Development/Sustainable Communities Task Force; Independent Sector; the Ms. Foundation for Women; The Natural Step; and Earthday Network 2000. She also served as an advisor to: the United Nations on Rural Development, U.S. delegate to the United Nations' International Labor Organization for International Indigenous Rights; the U.S. Catholic Conference's Campaign for Human Development on strategic planning for economic development; the International Labor Organization for International Indigenous Rights; and as a consultant for the OECD to Australia on Aboriginal development. She was a founding member of Native Americans in Philanthropy, Funders Who Fund Native Americans, and International Funders for Indigenous Peoples." [1]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Adamson, Rebecca, learningtogive, accessed August 7, 2009.
  2. Directors, The Other Economic Summit, accessed March 3, 2009.
  3. Board of Trustees, Bridgespan Group, accessed April 7, 2011.