Vanessa Roanhorse '96, the 2023 Commencement Speaker

Vanessa Roanhorse ’96 – Commencement 2023 Speaker

Vanessa Roanhorse '96, the 2023 Commencement Speaker

Nine years ago, a new tradition was born when Miss Porter’s School began inviting Ancients to serve as graduation speakers. This year, we are pleased to announce Vanessa Roanhorse ’96 as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2023.

Vanessa Roanhorse ’96 has been a tireless champion for the recognition, rights, and financial prosperity of Indigenous women. She has been the CEO and portfolio lead of Roanhorse Consulting, LLC (RCLLC), an Indigenous women-led think tank, since 2016. RCLLC works with unheralded communities, businesses, organizations, and individuals to achieve and aspire their self-determination through forging communities of practice, strengthening Indigenous evaluation methods, creating equity through entrepreneurship, and encouraging economic empowerment from within. RCLLC provides strategy mapping, resource curation, project design and development, project planning and implementation, ecosystem development, and research and evaluation through an Indigenous lens. RCLLC connects individuals, communities, businesses, and organizations with the resources and people they need to help them be successful in their specific endeavors.

Vanessa is also a co-founder of Native Women Lead (NWL), a national non-profit organization created by Native American women entrepreneurs to lift Native women into business and leadership roles. NWL hosts the annual Native Women’s Business Summit, connecting more than 10,000 Indigenous and Native American women. In 2021, New Mexico Community Capital, NWL, and Roanhorse Consulting’s collaborative “The Future Is Indigenous Womxn” initiative, which invests in Indigenous women in business, was one of four winners out of more than 500 proposals of $10 million in funding from the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge sponsored by Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Scott.

Vanessa is working with Native Women Lead to create The Matriarch Revolutionary Fund (MRF), the United States’ first impact investment fund focused on Indigenous women in business. The goal is to build this fund to $10 million as well as co-designing the first of its kind, Rematriating Economies Apprenticeship, to support more Indigenous women in fund and asset management.

Vanessa worked for seven years at the Delta Institute in Chicago where she oversaw many of the nonprofit’s energy efficiency, green infrastructure, community engagement programs, and workforce development training. She sits on the boards of the Delta Institute and Seven Fires, and is an advisor to PopCollab’s We Write the Future, Pivotal Venture’s Women and Girls of Color Design Council, Decolonizing Wealth Project, Angels of Impact Fund, and 2X Global JEDI [Justice, Equality, Diversity, and
Inclusion] Working Group. She is a recipient of the 2022 Miss Porter’s School Evan Burger Donaldson, 2021 Paypal Maggie Lena Walker’s Emerging Leader, and 2020 Conscious Company Media’s World Changing Woman in Sustainable Business awards. She resides on Tiwa Territory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her nine year old son and partner. She is of the Near to Water clan and born for the Bitter Water clan. Vanessa is a proud Diné (Navajo) citizen whose family comes from Tségháhoodzání (Window Rock, AZ) on the Navajo Nation.


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