JoRee LaFrance, doctoral candidate in environmental science, is one of 12 women chosen for the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute’s fellowship focused on connecting and supporting visionary women leaders on a global scale.
An initiative of the Aspen Institute Form on Women and Girls in partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the SOAR Leadership Initiative seeks to connect and support visionary women leaders who break barriers and improving the lives of women and girls around the world.
“As a 2020 SOAR fellow, I see a future where Indigenous women and girls are in leadership roles and feel confident, happy, loved, and equally important, safe – and our land and our waters are healthy,”
LaFrance is Apsáalooke (Crow) from the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana. At the University of Arizona, she uses her background at the intersection of earth sciences and Native American studies to focus on water quality issues on her reservation. Her doctoral research under faculty Jon Chorover and Karletta Chief focuses on contaminant concentrations in the Little Bighorn River watershed and understanding exposure pathways and risks unique to the Apsáalooke people.
The SOAR Leadership Initiative seeks to bring together a diverse group of women to inspire and learn from one another and builds a much needed support system for engaging in courageous acts that can truly change the world for women and girls. This initiative is part of The Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls, which lifts up promising ideas and leaders and builds on the strength of families to support women and girls in the U.S. and around the world in moving toward opportunity and equality. Read more in the Aspen Institute Press Release.
As an example of LaFrance's engagement, she traveled to Illinois in early March for the opening of the exhibit "Apsáalooke Women and Warriors" at the Field Museum of Chicago. This was the largest exhibition pairing historical and contemporary items in the Crow tribe’s history, and the first major exhibit curated by a Native American scholar, Nina Sanders. LaFrance participated in a parade on the University of Chicago wearing an elktooth dress that has been passed down through her family for generations, as well as speaking on several panels.