Lakota Mowrer

Lakota Mowrer

Job Title
Executive Director
Company
Four Bands Community Fund Inc.
University
University of Notre Dame
Washington University in St. Louis
Corps Year: 
2006
Corps Region: 
South Dakota
Alumni Region: 
South Dakota

Lakota was eager to take on the challenge of teaching kids in high-need communities, and was innovative in meeting the needs of her special education students. Her goal was to help students transition from school into contributing members of the community. By creating a student-run cafe within the school system, she taught them to cook basic meals, run a business, and practice social skills. Her commitment to expanding opportunities for Native communities continues today. As ED for Four Bands Community Fund, Lakota helps close the racial wealth gap for Native Americans by helping them create sustainable and successful small businesses.

Career Path

Growing Up
Lakota commuted 35 miles on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation to school. She was in an advanced track and succeeded, but she witnessed educational inequity and a lack of Native American history.
University of Notre Dame
Lakota was part of the Washington Internship for Native students. She spent summers at American University and worked for several federal agencies in DC, including the NIH.
TFA Corps: South Dakota Region
Lakota taught special ed and helped her students learn functional and social skills by starting a student-run cafe at her school. Students served the community while learning basic life skills.
Washington University at St. Louis
Lakota received a Masters in Social Work, focused on social-economic development and gerontology. She was a Kathryn M. Buder scholar.
Four Bands Community Fund Inc., Executive Director
Four Bands closes the racial wealth gap by helping Native Americans build sustainable small businesses and increase their financial capability. Lakota is responsible for raising $3 million a year.

Q & A

Q
What inspired you to join the corps?
A

As a sociology major, the next logical step in my career was more school. But I was craving practical application; I wanted to do real work. I attended a TFA presentation and was impressed that they served Native communities. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was excited about that, and about making an impact back home.

Q
What were some of the major lessons you learned during the corps?
A

I learned to take a big goal, break it down into smaller, measurable steps, and how to track progress toward outcomes. Teaching also taught me that no door is closed if you have the desire and are willing to work hard. I also learned that there is foundational work to be done with communities that impacts success in the classroom, which started me on my current career path.

Q
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying to the corps?
A

I would be honest and say it isn’t for everyone. It’s not for the weak. But if you are dedicated to the cause of giving all kids access to a great education, and you are up for a challenge, then you should definitely do it. There is no way the experience won’t have a positive impact on you as a professional.

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