A Message From Our Founder

A Message From Our Founder

Maggie Dunne and Payton Sierra in Antarctica, 2016

Dear Friends,

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Oglala Lakota Nation for the past nine and a half years. When I first visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation I was a sixteen-year-old student at Scarsdale High School. I never imagined that the trip would result in this journey and ultimately, today’s announcement.

I am stepping back from the day-to-day leadership of LCE to pursue graduate studies. I am not, however, stepping away from this organization which I founded from a place of passion, love, respect and community support. I will continue to advise, fundraise and volunteer for Lakota Children’s Enrichment in my new non-executive role as Chair of the Board.

With your help, over the past years: we provided over 100,000 books to schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation; we provided support to countless families and youth in need of essential services such as medical transport, warm clothing, housing and food; we hosted youth summits and art and spoken word contests that gave Native youth a scholastic platform to express themselves; the written and spoken word works of our program participants were viewed by over one million people; we engaged Nobel Peace Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners in activities with Native youth; we provided scholarship and grants to children and families as they pursued their educational goals; the majority of our youth participants stayed in school and many received Gates Millennium Scholarships, a Truman Scholarship, and other prestigious National Fellowships, Scholarships and awards; we took a youth leader from Pine Ridge on a global conservation mission to Antarctica to observe the impacts of climate change with the 2041 Foundation; we stood with the Water Protectors on Standing Rock Indian Reservation in ND; and we produced TEDxYouth@DinosaurPark, an annual independently produced TED event which engages Native and non-Native youth in a collaborative educational event and provides a national platform to amplify their voices. Further, we perpetually pushed the national dialogue on issues facing Native Nations to new levels, and helped and encouraged educators to teach culturally competent and accurate Native American history through our outreach and consulting services.

On behalf of Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s Board of Directors, it is my honor to announce that after interviewing numerous candidates, the Board unanimously selected Autumn White Eyes as the new Executive Director of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, effective immediately!

Autumn White Eyes is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College where she was a Gates Millennium Scholar, and is a recent graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she studied Arts in Education. Prior to pursuing her graduate studies, Autumn worked with multiple nonprofits in both programming with youth and fundraising. Autumn first became involved with Lakota Children’s Enrichment as a student participant in our annual writing challenge as the 2014 “Voices of the Land” Grand Prize winner and then continued to participate in our writing challenge as a judge in 2015 and 2016.

On a personal level, having worked with Autumn over the years, I am confident that her passion, vision, storytelling and development experience, cultural competence and the research-based methods that she brings to this role are a great match for the community of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, and that under her leadership LCE’s impact will reach new heights. Autumn is an exceptional role model for Lakota youth and will lead Lakota Children’s Enrichment into a stronger future.

We look forward to introducing you to Autumn over the coming months as we prepare to celebrate our 10th year of service to the Oglala Lakota Nation.

Peace & Best Wishes,

Maggie Dunne
Board Chair & Founder, Lakota Children’s Enrichment


You may also be interested in reading the Press Release announcing the appointment of Autumn White Eyes