April 1, 2024


Samantha Belote, Communications Manager

[email protected]

Courtney Chavis Appointed Executive Director of Sovereign Equity Fund

[BISMARCK, ND] April 1, 2024 – Courtney Chavis, a Lumbee Tribal member from North Carolina, has been appointed as the first Executive Director at Sovereign Equity Fund (SEF) with a background in philanthropy, community development, and grant management. This appointment comes following her impactful tenure as Grants Manager at the National Congress of American Indians, where she played a pivotal role in advancing the organization's mission to enhance the well-being of Native communities.


Chavis brings over a decade of experience in philanthropic leadership and nonprofit management to her new role. Her expertise is leveraging data-driven insights, fostering external partnerships, and streamlining operational procedures to deliver sustainable results. With a profound commitment to addressing poverty, education, and affordable housing issues, Chavis has consistently championed initiatives that empower marginalized populations and foster community resilience.


During her tenure at the National Congress of American Indians, Chavis spearheaded efforts to streamline internal grant management processes, significantly enhancing the organization's capacity to support Native communities nationwide. Her contributions were instrumental in securing critical funding and driving impactful programs to improve Indigenous peoples' quality of life.


"The Sovereign Equity Fund is very fortunate to have Courtney Chavis join as our first Executive Director,” says Justin Wilson, Sovereign Equity Fund Board President. “Throughout her career, she has demonstrated extraordinary vision and the courage to take on daunting challenges, create clarity and organization, and steer her teams toward successful outcomes. She understands and believes in our ambitious mission, and there is no doubt that she possesses a skillset uniquely suited to lay a strong foundation and build toward a brighter future for the Tribal peoples we were created to support."


Prior to her role at the National Congress of American Indians, Chavis served her Tribe as a Grants/Public Affairs Specialist, where she successfully secured the Tribe's first HUD-VASH grant. This groundbreaking initiative combines HUD's Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with Veteran Affairs’ case management and clinical services, providing crucial support to homeless Veterans and underserved populations.


Chavis holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Additionally, she holds a certificate in Grants Management, underscoring her commitment to excellence in grant administration and stewardship.

In her new capacity as Executive Director of SEF, Chavis is poised to lead the organization in its mission to drive positive change and sustainable development in underserved communities. Her visionary leadership and dedication to equity and inclusion make her a formidable force in the philanthropic sector.


For media inquiries or further information, please contact Samantha Belote at [email protected].



The Sovereign Equity Fund is a nonprofit institution focused on driving equitable funding access, sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty, and economic growth for Native America. With pride and profound dedication, SEF is forging transformative partnerships to enhance the distinct needs, opportunities, and values of tribal communities to create meaningful results, nurturing a legacy of resilience and prosperity.


The Cultural Foodways Fund seeks to fund TCUs to conduct projects that focus on learning about, sharing, and safeguarding the artistic, cultural, and humanistic aspects of Native foodways. This opportunity is designed to highlight place-based and people-centric connections that focus on the importance of food and agriculture to Tribal communities beyond (but inclusive of) economic value. This includes work that addresses the traditions, ceremonies, cuisines, language, art, storytelling, cosmologies, belief systems, customs, and ways of being intertwined with Indigenous foodways. 

Cultural Foodways Fund is accepting applications for the 2024 grant cycle until June 1, 2024.