The Ford Foundation announced today that First Peoples Fund President and CEO Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota) is one of 25 new Art of Change fellows. The fellowship supports visionary artists and cultural leaders in creating powerful works of art that help advance freedom, justice, and inclusion and strengthen our democracy.

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“First Peoples Fund has spent nearly 20 years advocating for the advancement of Native artists and culture bearers at the tribal level.  It is an honor to be recognized by the Ford Foundation for our important work,” Lori said. “The award will give us the opportunity to uplift the voices of culture bearers and artists who are restoring and rebuilding the very fabric of their tribal communities through art and cultural expression.”

Pourier is joined in the award by diverse arts and culture luminaries such as dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, writers Edwidge Danticat, Sandra Cisneros and Joy Harjo (Creek, Muscogee). Alternate ROOTs executive director Carlton Turner, a member of First Peoples Fund’s board of directors and a partner in Intercultural Leadership Institute, is also a fellowship recipient.

“Lori has devoted her career to supporting Native artists and culture bearers and the communities in which they live, particularly through the work of First Peoples Fund,” said Sherry Salway Black, chair of First Peoples Fund’s board of directors. “She leads this important effort to strengthen tribal communities now and for future generations — this award will help to elevate and continue this work.”  

The artists and cultural leaders selected for Art of Change fellowships all have a demonstrated commitment to social justice, and reflect a powerful diversity of experiences and creative voices. Drawn from a wide range of artistic fields, the fellows span generations, backgrounds, geographies and life experiences — and together tell a rich and varied American story. 

The Art of Change fellowship builds on the Ford Foundation’s decades-long commitment to advancing the arts and creative expression. Today, the foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program explores how culture affects and shapes our world, and how the arts, journalism and film can contribute to fairer and more just societies.

“Art is essential in a free and flourishing society. Artists are the visionaries who can shine light on complexity and possibility, and inspire us to make those societies more just and more beautiful,” said Elizabeth Alexander, the Ford Foundation’s director of Creativity and Free Expression. “This fellowship recognizes an extraordinarily diverse group of brilliant artists and innovators whose works embody social justice, and enables them to come together and collaborate toward a more just and inclusive future.”