Rebecca Adamson has been an Indigenous economist and serial social entrepreneur since 1970. Established in 2006, she is Founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide, an Indigenous-led organization making grants to Indigenous communities in over 60 countries while advocating globally in policy and market forums for Indigenous self determination. During the ‘80s, she established the premiere US development institute, First Nations Development Institute, founded Oweesta Corporation, Indian Land Tenure Foundation, and North American Native Bankers Association. Ms. Adamson's work established the first microenterprise loan fund (1982). She co-founded Association for Enterprise Opportunity which led the microenterprise movement in the United States, and then created Oweesta (1984), the first tribal community development financial institution (CDFI), which in turn established more than 70 tribal loan funds across Indian Country. In addition, in collaboration with Calvert Social Investment Funds, she designed Community Notes (formerly known as High Social Impact Investments, 1993), the first private sector instrument for investing directly in CDFI’s. Today, over $1 billion dollars are invested in Community Notes. Her work led to legislation establishing the CDFI Act, and the Tribal Trust Fund Reform Act, which established new standards of accountability, financial reporting and beneficiary services for Native Americans. She currently serves as a Calvert Social Investment Fund Trustee where she partnered to create the first Indigenous Peoples' Rights Investment Screen in 1999, and led the creation of the Indigenous Rights Risk Report, the first quantitative assessment of corporate risk exposure to Indigenous Peoples' rights, in 2014. In 2015 she has established four Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training Centers located in Argentina, Mexico and Canada as a new strategy for Indigenous leaders in addressing extractive industry on Indigenous territories. Ms. Adamson established a Masters in Public and Private Administration (MPPA) scholarship program for Native People at the Yale School of Organization and Management and an MBA scholarship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
Adamson has been appointed to numerous government committees. She currently serves as an advisor to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Group, serving from 2014 to the present. She is a nationally and internationally recognized and sought-after speaker, and most recently was invited to speak on TedMED, Emerald Planet and Al Jazeera. She serves on nonprofit boards and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Bay and Paul Foundations. She has published numerous papers including: " Evaluation with Power, Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers, San Francisco, (1998) pp. 123-140; and “The Native American Credit Market: Opportunity Knocks, but Relationships Stay," RMA Journal of Lending & Credit Risk Management, (1997). She is also a co-author of The Color of Wealth – The Story behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide, New York, New Press. 2006. Her book went on to win the Myers Outstanding Book Award in 2006.
She holds a Masters in Science in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (formerly New Hampshire College) in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she has also taught a graduate course on Indigenous Economics within the Community Economic Development Program, and a Doctor in Humane Letters degree from Dartmouth College.