The 2022 AISES Leadership Summit attracted a record-breaking 366 attendees — an 81 percent increase from the 2020 in-person event. “AISES is thrilled with the overwhelming support of the event,” said Mike Laverdure, AISES Board Chair. “This year we met on the ancestral homelands of our hosts, the Pechanga (Luiseño) people, in Temecula, Calif. They provided an ideal setting for one of the most valued learning experiences at AISES, where students and professionals can connect directly and learn from top experts in STEM.”
“The 2022 AISES Leadership Summit was a big hit for first time and returning participants,” said Katherine Cristiano, Senior Director of Special Events. “The goal was to open our hearts and provide space for participants to reconnect after two years of separation. The networking and personal development came together for our participants thanks to the beautiful environment, exceptional presenters and a great motivational keynote. With the beautiful welcome and support from the Pechanga tribal members and resort staff, AISES executed a memorable event.”
Great Oak Visit and TM Bird Singers
Because AISES and our partners see science as intertwined with Indigenous values and knowledge, the Summit highlighted the Pechanga Payómkawichum (Luiseño) people’s culture and traditions. At the Opening Ceremony, the TM Bird singers highlighted the Cahuilla-style bird singing. Registration filled quicky for an awe-inspiring tour of the Great Oak, a tree sacred to the Luiseño people, and Culture Knowledge Grounds.
Encouraging Awareness and Solidarity
Women from Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Wisconsin wore red ribbon skirts in support of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement. Their poignant gesture raises awareness of the growing movement to end violence against Native women and girls. Another group of attendees was photographed wearing ribbon shirts and skirts. It was a prideful moment as each piece of clothing has special significance to the wearer. Like others who have gathered around the world to show their solidarity with Ukraine, participants joined AISES Board member Jonathan Clark — who was a Peace Corps volunteer there— in a photo break. Jonathan shared the image with his many friends in that embattled country.
Emerging Student Leaders Recognized
Student leadership awards are given annually at the Summit to individuals who are nominated by their peers. This year, Gillian Vaughn, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Zariah June, Navajo Nation, were the award winners. Gillian, who received the Leadership Award, is studying electrical engineering at UCLA. Zariah received the Rising Leader Award. She is a student at Central Wyoming College studying biochemistry. They received their awards at the Closing Banquet surrounded by the AISES regional and national student representatives. Please join us in congratulating Gillian and Zariah as student leaders!
Summit Speakers and Presenters
Over 35 breakout sessions spanning a range of leadership and development topics were offered at the Summit. Testimonials, survey feedback and discussions during the event are instrumental in ensuring that the AISES mission remains on track, especially in areas of leadership, mentorship and research.
Results of the post-event survey were highly favorable with 91 percent of respondents ranking the overall event four or five (five being the highest). Student participant Danielle Arpan (Oglala Lakota) said, “This year was my third Leadership Summit. I’ve met some of the most profound, inspiring, goals-driven and honorable individuals. Because of AISES, I’ve grown a passion for increasing Indigenous representation within health care and STEM sectors! I’ll always be thankful for these conferences. I look forward to many more in the future.”
The Warrior Within
Bestselling author D.J. Vanas, Odawa Nation, gave the Closing Banquet keynote address. A skilled motivational speaker, Vanas talked about the power of ‘warrior spirit:’ “We need your dreams. We need your courage. We need your passion. You are the ones who are going to change things. You are the ones who are going to change the world. I have no doubt about that. The only question is are you going to do it on purpose, or are you going to do it by accident? You are put here for a reason. All of us are unique. We have our own powers. But they don’t help anybody, including ourselves, if we’re not able to develop and share them. Our warriors were all about service. It’s not about glory. It’s about serving our people well. It’s about fighting for something bigger than ourselves. It’s about leadership by example. It’s not about what we can get, but what we can do for others.” Vanas held a book signing event for banquet participants who received a free copy of his book, The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery and Achievement.
Visit the AISES Facebook and Twitter pages to see video and photographs from the 2022 Leadership Summit event.
The support and enthusiasm of over 6,000 members and committed sponsors make it possible for AISES to advance its mission. AISES is grateful to all the generous sponsors of the 2022 AISES Leadership Summit, especially the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Apple, IBM, Wayfair, Best Buy, Chevron, Honeywell FM&T, Microsoft, NASA, Stantec, USDA NRCS, Yahoo and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Looking Ahead to the Next AISES Event
AISES hopes you will join the 2022 AISES National Conference in October in Palm Springs, Calif. Sure to be another great gathering of the AISES family in the Coachella Valley, the conference will feature a stellar lineup, including sessions focused on STEM with leaders and experts from across the U.S. and Canada. In a conference first, the Networking Suites and Traditional Powwow will be held outdoors.
Visit cconference.aises.org to learn more about event registration as well as opportunities for event sponsors, sessions and research proposals.