June 14, 2023

Tasha R. Fridia of Friends of the Children Announced as New Obama Foundation United States Leader

Fridia selected for her extensive advocacy within tribal communities and organizations, including Indigenous youth


RAPID CITY, S.D. – Today, Friends of the Children announced that National Director of Tribal Programs Tasha R. Fridia, J.D., Pejuta Cangleska Win (Sacred Medicine Circle Woman), is among the first cohort of 100 emerging changemakers selected to participate in the Obama Foundation’s Leaders USA program. The Obama Leaders program is a six-month virtual program that supports and connects emerging leaders in the United States, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe through a values-based leadership framework inspired by the ideals and legacy of President and Mrs. Obama.

Chosen from a highly competitive pool of applications, Fridia—who is an enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and is Kiowa, Caddo, and Hunka Oglala Lakota—was selected to join the program for her role in advocating for numerous tribes and organizations. As part of the first cohort, Fridia will build skills and expand her impact across public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The inaugural cohort of United States “Obama Leaders” is composed of values-driven changemakers from every corner of the country. Hailing from 37 states; Washington, D.C.; American Samoa; Guam; and five tribal nations, these Obama Leaders are united by their passion for building a stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive world.

“We are excited to welcome these 100 changemakers from across the United States into the Obama Foundation family,” said Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “Our newest Obama Leaders are already making a difference in their communities and are ready to take their work to the next level. They embody the values of President and Mrs. Obama, and their impactful work will create positive change in communities across the country."

Fridia lives in Porcupine, S.D. on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. As the National Director of Tribal Programs at Friends of the Children, Fridia collaborates with tribal communities across Indian Country to implement the Friends of the Children’s long-term professional mentoring model utilizing a culturally grounded approach. She is also the legacy of many generations of activists and advocates dedicated to political, policy and systems change.

“I am humbled to be selected and am grateful for the opportunity to both share my experiences and learn from other leaders selected so that we can collectively have an even greater impact in our communities—especially for future generations,” said Fridia. "I strive to make my ancestors proud in everything I undertake. My most important job and greatest legacy is passing on the teachings of my grandmother Frances Wise, to my daughters.”

Fridia is a 2021 American Express NGEN Fellow, a recipient of the 40 under 40 in Indian Country award, a member of Native Leadership Oklahoma Class of 2020, and the inaugural class of the Advance Native Political Leadership Training Program. She holds a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma, MA-HR Development from Webster University, and a J.D. with a certificate in American Indian Law from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

“Indigenous youth in Rapid City and across the country being served by Friends of the Children are already benefiting from Tasha’s leadership. I am confident her contributions to the Obama Foundation’s Leaders USA program will be remarkable. We are thrilled that she was selected for this prestigious honor,” said Terri Sorensen, national CEO of Friends of the Children who is from Rapid City.

The Leaders USA program offers participants a unique and comprehensive experience, including a values-driven leadership curriculum, action labs focused on strengthening democratic institutions and culture in the U.S., community groups for fostering constructive dialogue in a polarized environment, and one-on-one support to help tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.

As part of the six-month program, Fridia will convene virtually each week with the United States Obama Leaders cohort for interactive sessions designed to help them drive change by honing their leadership skills, building deep relationships with their peers, and engaging with thought leaders and members of the Obama Foundation community. Fridia will also have an opportunity to engage with President Obama, participate in various virtual experiences and special events, including one-on-one conversations with experienced mentors in the Foundation's global network.

To learn more about Friends of the Children, visit To learn more about the program and the individuals who make up the inaugural cohort, visit Photo of Fridia available for download here.



Friends of the Children

Ariane Le Chevallier