Cultural Survival is honored to welcome Daisee Francour to our team as our new Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications. She is Haudenosaunee and an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin with relations to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy in upstate New York and Canada. She was born and raised on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin and comes from a matrilineal society and a long line of strong Indigenous women. “My mother and aunties taught me to always stand firm in my truth, to never compromise my values, and to always speak up in matters of injustice,” she says. Francour grew up immersed in her culture and is actively learning her Indigenous language alongside her family of six. She is a self-described artist, auntie, community member, Indigenous rights activist, and storyteller.
Francour holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Adler University in Chicago and a bachelors in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She comes to Cultural Survival with over a decade of experience working in philanthropy, at non-profit organizations, in grassroots organizing, and as a direct service provider in education, mental health, and corrections, where she has served Indigenous Peoples with disabilities/special needs, domestic violence victims, the homeless, and formerly incarcerated inmates.
“I grew up surrounded by my peers who were often criminalized for just being Indigenous. I saw them go in and out of the criminal justice system disporpotionately, and at a young age, I learned that our people were always on the frontlines of oppression and discrimination. I knew that the system was flawed and was designed to keep us on the lowest tier of civil society, so as a teen I decided I wanted to help transform the system so it would help our people, not destroy us,” Francour says about her motivation to get into her current line of work.
Francour’s experience in advocacy and movement-building work made her a radical woman in philanthropy. As a former program officer at the Christensen Fund she managed the San Francisco Bay Area program, where she worked with Indigenous communities and organizations to support their efforts in stewarding and revitalizing biocultural diversity, traditional knowledge, Indigenous food systems, Indigenous languages, and sovereignty. Later, she transitioned into a consulting role as a strategist, resource mobilizer, organizational development consultant, and philanthropic advisor, supporting Indigenous organizations locally and globally.
“As someone who worked directly with Indigenous Peoples, providing them with the support and services needed to sustain their livelihoods, transitioning into philanthropy allowed me to continue that,” she says. “But I quickly learned that philanthropy is also flawed and inequitable in the amount of resources directed to Indigenous Peoples. Philanthropy has yet to fully grasp the importance Indigenous Peoples have in maintaining their environments and our expert knowledge in reversing climate change, conflict resolution, and maintaining balance in the natural world.”
Francour’s work empowers Tribes, Nations, and Indigenous-led institutions to build their capacity, leadership, and organizational infrastructure, and develop holistic strategies to support their resource generation and organizational sustainability. As an Indigenous fundraiser, philanthropic advisor, and donor educator, she builds capacity by transforming people’s understanding of Indigenous rights, Indigenous issues, biocultural diversity, climate and social justice, and other regenerative systems.
Francour says she is excited to join the Cultural Survival team: “Cultural Survival has been on my radar for many years and I have deeply admired the work it does to empower Indigenous communities in a variety of capacities via multiple layers of intentional and holistic support. Joining an organization with a 48-year legacy is exciting. To co-create a holistic vision and implement it alongside other incredible Indigenous women, men, and allies is a privilege. I feel that I have found my home outside of home, and I know my ancestors are behind me in this new journey. I am so honored to join Cultural Survival and their resilient team to bring my experience, love, and passion for Indigenous rights and decolonized/ Indigenized systems to this community. In ukwehuwehnéha, the Oneida language, we say, ‘ʌkahake kalihwiyose,’ which means, good things are ahead.”