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The ILI Vision

The ILI Vision Title


The Intercultural Leadership Institute is a year-long intensive leadership experience for artists, culture bearers and other arts practitioners.

ILI is a collaborative program of Alternate ROOTS, First Peoples Fund, National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) , PA’I FoundationSipp CultureFirst Alaskans Institute, and The International Association of Blacks in Dance. The effort grew out of our direct experiences as leaders of these founding cultural organizations. We often found that many personal and professional leadership programs emphasized dominant cultural norms, modes of learning and social approaches that didn’t match our commitment to cultural equity and change-making in our own communities.

ILI’s  “intercultural”  approach emphasizes overlapping experiences, shared spaces and mutual
accountability – and seeks to challenge dominant social norms while honoring differences of histories, traditions, vocabulary and more. We seek to develop leaders specifically within the arts & culture field to adeptly respond to significant changes that impact society, politics, environment and economy. As a peer cohort, ILI intercultural leaders hone personal and professional skills to affect local, national and global communities – and promote a shift toward greater awareness, resourcing and action in the broader field of arts & culture.

Ancestral Altar
"In this political moment, our country’s leadership is skewing male and white. ILI represents a space for leadership development where narratives from indigenous, Native, immigrant, and other varied voices are central."

1. BUILD stronger strategic intercultural collaborations and solidarity in the field of arts, culture and social justice.

2. PROMOTE the traditional and contemporary practices of artists and culture bearers, establish an alternative pathway for them to work within existing structures and provide opportunity for them to create and normalize new structures.

3. ADVANCE and enhance the capacity of artists, culture bearers and arts organizations to pursue cultural equity and sustain their work in a changing environment.

4. IMPACT the language, shift the attention and endow greater resources in multiple sectors to support transformative practices of artists and culture bearers.

The inspiration to create ILI came from many sources…

A prominent driver was our own experience as leaders within the arts and culture field who have participated in numerous professional development programs. Most of these provided important skills, connections and capacity for us and our organizations while also reinforcing dominant cultural norms that at times were out of sync with our commitment to cultural equity and to change-making in and with our communities. As we grew in our own leadership and built trust and understanding together over time, we developed a shared analysis of the need for a leadership program of, by and for the artists and culture bearers in our communities.

In defining this collaborative program as an “Intercultural Leadership Institute,” we are making an important distinction. Cross-cultural approaches highlight the differences and similarities between two or more distinct cultures. Intercultural approaches invite exploration of our shared grooves of social memory, co-habitation and mutual accountability; they allow us to challenge dominant norms as well as honor, empower and find solidarity in the differences of our histories, traditions, identities, vocabularies and more.

We believe an intercultural approach to change-making and developing leaders within the arts and culture field is critical to respond effectively to the significant shifts that are underway in nearly every facet of our society, politics, environment and economy at the local, national and global levels. We have created ILI to foster and support intercultural leaders throughout our communities, as well as to promote a shift in the broader arts and culture field toward greater intercultural awareness, resourcing and action.


Learn more about the year-long ILI program

ILI Leadership

María López De León

María López De León

National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures President & CEO

Vicky Holt Takamine

Vicky Holt Takamine

PA’I Foundation
Executive Director

Lori Pourier

Lori Pourier

First Peoples Fund

Wendy Shenefelt

Wendy Shenefelt

Alternate ROOTS
Co-Executive Director

Carlton Turner

Carlton Turner

Mississippi Center for Cultural Production
Co-Executive Director

New Partners

La Quen Nay

La quen náay (Haida/Tlingit)

First Alaskans Institute President & CEO


Denise Saunders Thompson

The International Association of Blacks in Dance
President & CEO

Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in community, place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression – everywhere.
First Peoples Fund logo with turtle icon
First Peoples Fund (FPF) supports the Collective Spirit. of artists and culture bearers. Rooted in the traditional values of generosity and respect, humility and fortitude, FPF uplifts the Indigenous Arts Ecology – relationship based ecosystems that strengthen Native arts and culture grounded in ancestral knowledge. We accomplish this by 1) supporting culture
bearers and artist entrepreneurs as transformative community leaders, 2) deepening tribally
based organizations’ capacity to serve artists and their families and 3) investing holistically
into the next generation of resilient artists.
National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), is the nation’s leading nonprofit  organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development and cultivation of the Latino arts field. In this capacity, NALAC stimulates and facilitates intergenerational dialogues among disciplines, languages and traditional and contemporary expressions.
PA'I Foundation Logo
PA‘I Foundation, organized in 2001, preserves and perpetuates Hawaiian cultural traditions for future generations. PA‘I Foundation is the non-profit organization of Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima, a h’lau hula (school of Hawaiian dance) founded by kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance) Vicky Holt Takamine in 1977. While the organization is centered around and supported by h’lau members, the purpose of PA‘I Foundation is to address and serve the needs of native Hawaiians and those who make Hawai’i their home.
Sipp Logo final horizontal-01
The Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture) is honoring the history and building the future of Utica, MS. Our work weaves together research, development, local agricultural, with contemporary media & storytelling to promote the legacy and vision of our hometown. Our place-based model program will promote economic empowerment and self-sufficiency of low- and moderate-income people through education, technical assistance, training, and mentoring in agribusiness. Additionally, it will work with the community to create an advocacy base to lobby and establish increased broadband access in this rural community – a key to sustainable community development in the 21st century.

First Alaskans Institute helps develop the capacities of Alaska Native people and their communities to meet the social, economic and educational challenges of the future, while fostering positive relationships among all segments of our society. The Institute does this through community engagement, information and research, collaboration, and leadership development. First Alaskans is a non-profit charitable organization whose purpose is to advance Alaska Natives.

The International Association of Blacks in Dance

The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) preserves and promotes dance by people of African ancestry or origin, and assists and increases opportunities for artists in advocacy, audience development, education, funding, networking, performance, philosophical dialogue, and touring.

ILI Means Skin
In Native Hawaiian, ‘ili means skin – the outer layer that holds together something vital. The ethnobotanical meaning alludes to the skin or bark of the Hau plant (hibiscus). The traditional mele Ka ‘ili hau pa kai o ‘Alio (the hau bark wet by the sea sprays of ‘Alio) is a reference to a strong shore-dweller, indicating that salt air and sea sprays made the bark of the hau trees on the shore stronger than those of the upland. The hau plant is useful in a variety of ways crucial to Native Hawaiian culture: as cordage to sew kapa sheets or tie sandals and hula skirts; as wood for outriggers and floats for fishnets; and as medicine. Like the Native Hawaiian ‘ili, our ILI intercultural approach to leadership cultivation, too, aims to hold together a space for resiliency and resourcefulness.