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Two More Allies Join the Conscious Alliance Team

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In less than a year, national youth empowerment and hunger relief nonprofit, Conscious Alliance, has grown its dynamic team by two staff members in unique and cohesive strategic roles that will continue to drive change and growth in the organization in 2017 and beyond. Program Director, Kathryn Burleson, Ph.D., joined Conscious Alliance in June 2016, followed by Strategy Coordinator, Walt Pourier in March 2017.

What do a professor and her former student have in common? One now works for the other – and it’s not who one might think. Kathryn Burleson’s collaboration with Conscious Alliance began after she met then-student and now-Executive Director, Justin Levy, at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C. Levy and Burleson shared a passion for service-learning and over the years, grew a transformational intercultural service partnership between the College, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and Conscious Alliance.

“My commitment to working at the intersection of culture and food security grew, as did my appreciation for Conscious Alliance,” Burleson said. “After 12 years as a professor, I joined the Conscious Alliance team full-time to follow my passion for social justice, and put my research and writing skills into more direct action.”

As Program Director, Burleson’s focus is on every stage of program
development, from generating ideas, grant writing and program execution, to evaluation and writing reports. She will also continue to lead groups of intercultural learners to Pine Ridge, including from Warren Wilson College.

Walt Pourier is Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and currently lives with his family in Denver. After years of collaboration with Conscious Alliance through co-hosted art and music youth workshops, Walt joined the team in March 2017.

“I hope to bring a focus on sharing messages of hope, inspiration and a healthy outlook on life,” Pourier said. “My whole life, I’ve been dedicated to instilling hope and supporting youth movements and I look forward to continuing this path with Conscious Alliance.”

Pourier’s work has reached many communities through youth movements, language revitalization, suicide prevention, ending domestic violence, defending childhood initiatives, sustainable housing, healthy food distribution and more. Pourier also serves as the Executive Director of the Stronghold Society and the Creative Director and Owner of Nakota Designs Advertising Design and Graphics.

Burleson, Pourier, and the rest of the Conscious Alliance team are ready to kick off their signature summer projects, with over a dozen Art That Feeds Food Drives around the country. These food drives provide emergency food relief for food banks nationwide and for youth and families on economically isolated Native American reservations. The organization will also host two flagship fundraising events, An Evening with Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee on June 29 and An Evening In Support of Conscious Alliance Hosted by the Macmillan Family on July 16. In 2016, events like these helped the organization raise over $180,000. In total, Conscious Alliance committed over $1.2 million in 2016 to programs that directly assist the communities it serves nationwide.

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