Center for Native American Youth Executive Director Nikki Pitre Named UN Goodwill Ambassador

October 5, 2022

The designation took place September 29 at the Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Aspen, CO


Washington, DC, October 5, 2022 — The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute is proud to share that Executive Director Nikki Pitre has been designated as a United Nations’ Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassador. The designation ceremony took place  Thursday, September 29, 2022 in Aspen, Colorado, as part of the Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership co-hosted by the Mountain Partnership together with the State of Colorado, the City of Aspen, and the Aspen International Mountain Foundation. 

The Mountain Partnership is a voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world. Nikki also was a panelist for the Aspen Institute’s Forum on climate change “Building Alliances for Resilient Mountains.” She urged the bringing of Indigenous voices into conversations around energy and technology and emphasized decolonizing approaches to addressing climate change.

Upon accepting her designation, Nikki shared that when she thinks of the values and important lessons she can contribute to the Mountain Partnership, they come from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, the lands of her people. “What I can promise is to show up as my true, full self – an Indigenous woman, a mother, and a vessel of my ancestors.”

Nikki’s Indian name is khwhele’ which means Meadow Lark. She is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and is also Kalispel, Yakama, Nisqually, Cowlitz, Squaxin Island and Taino. She is a direct descendant of Chief Spokane, Chief Ignace, Chief Kamayakin and Chief Leschi. With a true passion to support Native youth and youth-led programming, Nikki serves as the Executive Director at the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. As Executive Director, Nikki works closely with the Board of Advisors and Youth Advisory Board, manages staff, and sets the vision, strategy, and priorities for the Center.

Founded in 2002, the Mountain Partnership addresses the challenges facing mountain regions by tapping the wealth and diversity of resources, knowledge, information and expertise from its members to improve the quality of life and environments in the world’s mountain regions. The Mountain Partnership nominates well-known personalities to champion the cause of sustainable mountain development. Rosalaura Romeo, Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, shared “We are proud to have Nikki on board – to advocate for mountain Native American youth and Indigenous issues.”


The Center for Native American Youth believes all Native American youth should lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and draw strength from their culture and one another. As a policy program of the Aspen Institute founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.), we work to improve the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American youth. We do this through youth recognition, inspiration and leadership; research, advocacy, and policy change; serving as a national resource exchange; and by building a Native-youth driven narrative.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

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