STEM is here. STEM is evolving. STEM is the future. The AISES Leadership Summit is focused on honing strategies to enable science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals and emerging leaders in STEM fields to think proactively about their goals.
This annual gathering focuses on the core competencies and capacities of individuals. It stimulates participants to think about their responsibilities and the impact of their work and studies on the global STEM community. It enables participants to stop, think, and plot their incredible life journey, and it supports them as they process the lessons and opportunities they come away with.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) generously sponsored and hosted the 2019 AISES Leadership Summit March 14–16 in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Qualla Boundary, the official name of this sovereign nation’s land, is adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in western North Carolina. This historic, scenic area is home to a close-knit community that proudly and graciously welcomed Leadership Summit participants as friends and relatives.
There was excitement in the room! Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Snead opened the Leadership Summit by sharing his message of goodwill from the Cherokee community. AISES is grateful to the EBCI community, tribal members, and Cherokee community partners that invested in the 2019 Leadership Summit, including the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, the Sequoyah Fund, Owle Construction, the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute, the Cherokee Boys Club, and many programs of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Following Principal Chief Snead’s inspirational talk, the Cherokee Youth Council (CYC), a culturally based leadership program for students in grades 7–12, performed two social dances. The CYC is housed under the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute at the Cherokee Boys Club and is funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. EBCI Youth Ambassadors invited conference participants to join them in the Friendship Dance, bringing together friends and strangers in unity.
Once again, AISES designed and presented a top-notch conference of action-packed days filled with meetings, tours, and events. Complementing all the activities were multiple forms of learning, from written materials and workshops to a choice of over 30 conference sessions. Participants arrived from Canada and 31 states as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. Over 260 students and professionals, including advisors and chaperones, were part of this year’s gathering.
Within the Leadership Summit was a lineup of AISES program events. The Faculty Career Development Workshop was a daylong program for Native people preparing to become STEM faculty.
Pre-college Energy Challenge poster participants presented their winning concepts and had an opportunity to showcase their work before skilled career professionals, who offered advice and feedback. Each student’s project is based on an energy challenge affecting his or her community, and students use a two-phase engineering process to create a real-world solution.
“The AISES Leadership Summit is an extraordinary example of how a Tribal community is committed to the future of their people and sustainability of their workforce,” says Alicia Jacobs, Vice Chair of the AISES Board of Directors. “I have seen the value of increasing the representation of American Indians in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and careers right here on the Qualla Boundary. The EBCI community through the exposure of a national organization such as AISES has a strong STEM presence within the professional body of the tribe along with our college students pursuing STEM fields, and down to our students at the Cherokee Central Schools level who are working on culturally-based STEM curriculum. The EBCI community, Executive Office and Tribal Council are setting a strong example for other tribal communities to follow when it comes to supporting STEM by investing in the AISES Leadership Summit.”
Investing in the Leadership Summit benefits us all. AISES could not accomplish the goals of the Leadership Summit without the support, involvement, and enthusiasm of our committed sponsors, which include the tribal programs and partners previously listed, along with BMM Testlabs, Chevron, HP, America’s Navy, University of North Carolina Asheville, General Motors, United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service, Double Rafter, and DiversityComm.
The Leadership Summit is an opportunity for STEM professionals, industry partners, and students to meet and interact with each other, as well as with the AISES board of directors, staff, and advisory council members. Together participants build a shared support base for the growth and development of essential leadership skills. Invest in yourself and you invest in the future.
Join AISES at the 2019 National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 10–12, 2019. We’d love to see you there!