Man standing in a green field looking off to a mountain in the distance

Leadership Fellowship

Enhancing leadership development and succession for guardianship of territories

The Leadership Fellows Program was established in 2019 to strengthen emergent leaders from Nia Tero’s place-anchored partnerships who play key roles in managing their collective territories.

The program is modeled after Indigenous teaching methods and concepts of leadership, with the goal to enhance leadership development and succession, thereby contributing to local durable support and guardianship of territories.

Its main components include:

  • A focus on the needs of fellows and their communities
  • Strengthen culture and indigenous spirituality
  • Promote intergenerational and intercultural exchanges
  • Local facilitators and individualized mentorship
  • Regional cohorts and peer groups
  • Learning-by-doing approach
  • Learnings are shared back with the community

The initial program had a global focus, however, after much consideration from recommendations of former fellows, partners, advisors, and others, the program was adapted into three regional areas – North America, Amazonia, and Pasifika.

Learn more about the Leadership Fellows below.

Meet the 2019 Leadership Fellows

Portrait of Liam Kokaua

Liam Kokaua

Cook Islands

Liam Kokaua is a Māori of Rarotonga (Ngāti Arera tribe), located in the Cook Islands. His life is shared between Aotearoa-New Zealand and Rarotonga, and he is currently living in Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne), Aotearoa. His current role is with the local district council as a Project Manager for a forest restoration project which aims to revert former exotic pine forestry to native forest, and works in partnership with the local iwi (tribe) of the area, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri.

Liam was a member of the inaugural Nia Tero Leadership Fellows program (2018-2019), and he has recently worked for a local environmental NGO, Te Ipukarea Society, on Rarotonga (2015-2019). In 2019 he completed a Masters of Indigenous Studies at the University of Auckland. Liam has a passion for learning Indigenous knowledge and traditions of the people of Te Moana Nui o Kiva (The Pacific Ocean) and working on landscape-scale ecological restoration projects.

Portrait of Jupta Itoewaki

Jupta Itoewaki

Mulokot Foundation | Suriname

Jupta Itoewaki lives in Suriname, South America. She is an Indigenous woman from the Wayana tribe living in the remote southern region of the country, an area covered by 96% of rainforest. The overall population of the Wayana is of 2,000, including Wayanas living French Guyana and Northern Brazil, 700 of them live in Suriname. Jupta has served her community for over 12 years as a facilitator, trainer, interpreter, and as assistant of the Paramount Chief. Currently she is the president of Mulokot Foundation, the community-based organization set up by her community to support the community and help achieve its development aims. Jupta has a bachelor’s degree in social cultural education, and has received additional training on biodiversity, sustainable forest management, human rights, primary health care and gender mainstreaming. In 2018, she was the first Wayana to be selected as a fellow by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nation and participated in the annual Indigenous Fellowship Program. In 2020, Jupta was the recipient of the Golden Gavel Award for her work in the field of environmental protection.

Portrait of Mandy Bayha

Mandy Bayha

Délįnę Got’įnę Government | Canada

Mandy Bayha is a Sahtúgot’ine (person of Great Bear Lake). Her family name is Bęyá Táhtį: a family known by their people as Saoyúégot’įnę (people of Grizzly Bear Mountain - one of the great Peninsulas of Great Bear Lake). In the Dene worldview “…we are the Land and the Land is us”. Her most important role is Enne (mother). She has two beautiful boys who teach her everyday about the importance of the transmission of Traditional Knowledge, the connection to Mother Earth, and the dire need to decolonize as indigenous Peoples. This has led her to engage in other roles within her community, region, and territory. Mandy is currently the Director, Ɂedenets'erıd̨ ı ́Dahk'ǝ́ (Department for Language, Culture, & Spirituality). She believes that a deep understanding of traditional knowledge is crucial for the transmission of knowledge to the next generation and the generations to come, it is also the basis for a solid foundation of their Self- Government, and critical to the Sahtúgot'ın̨ ę's efforts in the preservation, protection, and conservation of all traditional Lands and environment (Water, Animals, Vegetation, etc.), including Great Bear Lake and its entire watershed area.

Portrait of Ryan Hawley

Ryan Hawley

Ant Atoll Biosphere | Federated States of Micronesia

Ryan Hawley comes from a family that for many years has been making efforts to protect Ahnd Atoll from overfishing and poachers. Ahnd is now recognized as a biosphere reserve and the family’s goal is to improve and sustain Ahnd's marine environment. As a husband and a father of two, Ryan wants to ensure that his children get to continue enjoying this beloved part of their home for the rest of their lives, as well as continue this legacy for the generations after them.

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