We at Philanthropy Northwest would like to recognize and celebrate the work of our former board member La quen náay Medicine Crow as she transitions out of her leadership role at First Alaskans Institute (FAI). La quen náay (Liz) (Haida/Tlingit descent) is an enrolled tribal citizen of the Village of Kake, and calls Kéex’ Kwáan (Kake), Alaska home. She served on our board from 2013 to 2021 while holding other leadership positions in her community including her role as president at FAI.
During her time with Philanthropy Northwest, La quen náay influenced our organization’s culture, board and the way we uphold our values. Thanks to her wit, humor and stewardship, La quen náay led Philanthropy Northwest through difficult conversations, and influenced the board’s composition to better reflect the diverse communities we serve.
Lyn Hunter, our director of strategic initiatives and board relations, speaks on the personal contributions she has seen La quen náay make to the Philanthropy Northwest board.
Our past board president and current board member Aleesha Towns-Bains notes, “La quen náay is unapologetic in her desire to see Philanthropy Northwest and the field move toward greater justice and equity to the communities we serve. She can see what is but also what can be, and lean into creating the necessary change. She does so with kindness, strength and clarity. She gives the gifts of candidness paired with genuine caring.”
C’Ardis Gardner Glesser, a former Philanthropy Northwest board member, describes the unique values La quen náay brought to the organization. “Even when I wasn't sure I belonged, La quen náay assured me I did, and encouraged me to speak up. Once, I remember we were on a Zoom call for a board meeting and La quen náay was baking, while sharing what we could do to ensure we [Philanthropy Northwest] live our values of racial equity. She never missed a beat, and she modeled how to show up fully and authentically.”
“La quen náay’s unique and grounded leadership is an inspiration to us all who want to lead from a place of authenticity,” says Jill Nishi, Philanthropy Northwest’s CEO. “I had the privilege of serving with her on the board prior to stepping into the CEO role, and was always struck by her presence, leadership and wisdom that was so grounded in her Alaskan Native community. She had a masterful way of owning her presence and voice while always leaving space for others. She is a model for what holistic, grounded and effective leadership can look like and be.”
From all of us at Philanthropy Northwest, thank you for your service, generosity and laughter, La quen náay. We wish you the best in all your future endeavors. We look forward to continuing our relationship with FAI and seeing where it goes next.