United Indians development officer in leadership project

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SEATTLE – Janeen Comenote, Quinault/Hesquiaht/Kwakuitl/Oglala, a development officer for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation and director of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, participated in the Women Rule! Leadership Training Program sponsored by The White House Project, American Express and Oprah magazine.

Comenote was one of 80 women accepted to participate, out of more than 3,000 applicants, in three days of presentations and workshops in New York City in June. She is featured in the November edition of Oprah magazine.

Comenote, 39, has been involved with United Indians since its inception and has served in a variety of capacities. She was instrumental in securing the $3.5 million grant from the Northwest Area Foundation that funded United Indians’ Pathways to Prosperity Program.

“Native American culture is matriarchal – women are so powerful and respected,” Comenote said on the Women Rule! Web site. “It’s not a secret that behind every great male Indian leader is a woman advising him. Looking at Women Rule! through the lens of my core cultural values, I had an ‘aha!’ moment: I realized that what I take absolutely for granted in my community – the role of women – doesn’t necessarily translate into the larger world.”

In a profile of Comenote for Oprah magazine, Aimee Lee Ball wrote: “... many Americans may not know that about 65 percent of our country’s Native people actually live off reservations, often facing the same, if not worse, socio-economic hardship as those who live on them. To give what she calls ‘the silent population’ of American Indians who reside in cities a voice, Comenote created the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, which represents 24 organizations in 19 cities and has already hosted national summits. Her dream is to raise awareness among policymakers and convince Congress to dedicate funding for much-needed services.”