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'Honored to join such a hardworking team': Danielle Hiraldo named new director of AIC

Danielle Hiraldo will serve as the new director of UNC's American Indian Center beginning in July. Photo courtesy of UNC Media Relations.

Danielle Hiraldo, a member of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, will serve as the American Indian Center's next director beginning in July.

Hiraldo will be the center's fourth director since it was founded in 2006. She is coming from the University of Arizona, where she was a senior researcher and outreach specialist at the Native Nations Institute in the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy.

Hiraldo received a doctorate in American Indian studies from the University of Arizona. She received a master's in public administration and a bachelor of arts in political science at UNC Pembroke.

She specializes in federal Indian law and policy and specifically looks at Native nation rebuilding, native politics and reform at state and federal levels. 

Hiraldo said in an email statement that North Carolina has a rich indigenous history and that the Indigenous communities continue to contribute to the state's vibrancy.

 "I'm honored to join such a hardworking team at the UNC American Indian Center," Hiraldo said. 

Danny Bell, a supporter of and advocate for the American Indian Center, said he is excited about what Hiraldo will bring to UNC.

"She's been involved in a number of discussions of issues important to American Indian communities, and I have admired the way she has handled herself and her understanding of the issues and seeking to find a way forward," Bell said.

Bell said that the research Hiraldo did in Arizona involves many of the same issues the center is looking to solve at UNC, such as sovereignty, recognition and engagement in building the capacity of tribes to engage with partners. 

"All of that is what we need," Bell said. "We are so far behind in so many areas, we're so invisible in society, we're invisible at Carolina, and with what I've seen of her so far, she brings, I think, an approach that would help make us more visible and for people to understand that we should be a part of the mission and the engagement that Carolina is known for all over the world."

What she will be able to accomplish at UNC will come down to how the University community embraces her, Bell said. 

"I think she comes in with a wide set of skills and interest and enthusiasm," Bell said. "Will Carolina give her the kind of support that she needs?"

Marcus Collins, a senior consultant to the American Indian Center, said in an email statement that since the center opened its doors 16 years ago, it has worked to create a sense of home for Native students on campus. 

Collins added that he is excited to see where the center will go under Hiraldo's leadership.

"She brings a keen understanding of tribal communities across our state and Indian country, and she has a terrific vision for how the University can further engage with Native students on campus and communities beyond Chapel Hill in a way that lets us live out our mission of truly serving North Carolina," Collins said. 

Joseph Jordan, vice provost for academic and community engagement, said that the center represents a home away from home for Native and indigenous students.

Jordan noted that it also provides leadership on issues important to tribal communities in North Carolina, and is an educational resource for the campus and community.

"I am certain the AIC will thrive with Dr. Hiraldo at the helm, and I look forward to welcoming her to campus this summer," Jordan said in an email statement. 

Hiraldo said since UNC is the nation's first public university, it is uniquely situated to bring together research, education and engagement for native communities.

"I am excited by the opportunities ahead for the UNC American Indian Center to continue connecting community-driven academics and service that advance the priorities of such a vibrant community," Hiraldo said.


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