Did you ever stand back in awe of someone who at great risk stands up for what is right and good? Did you admire their courage? The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance Matusak Courageous Leadership Award was initiated to recognize individuals who have displayed a passion for the common good, and a commitment to principles greater than just themselves. The kind of courage that once exhibited galvanizes others to action.

Dr. Matusak introduced this award to recognize and reward those individuals who courageously take a risk to stand up for what is right and just; who work for the common good; who are willing to take an unpopular stand even if doing so may jeopardize their jobs, cast them in an unpopular light or even cause them to lose friends. They have the courage to act authentically and speak up when silence would mean colluding with the problem, and they boldly take actions that tangibly improve the human condition. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You must look fear in the face and do the thing you think you cannot do.”

The Award

Matusak Courageous Leadership Award recipients are given a cash award of $3,000 to be used to further their work. Nominations are open to the KFLA global network of fellows.

The 2016 Award will be presented to the award recipient on October 8, 2016, at the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance Forum, to be held at the Westin Denver International Airport, in Denver, Colorado.

Nominate a Courageous Leader

Deadline: Aug 1, 2016


Larraine Matusak

Dr. Larraine R. Matusak

As a former Leadership Scholar at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Director of the Kellogg National Fellowship Program, Dr. Larraine Matusak is an experienced scholar and practitioner of leadership in a wide variety of organizational and community roles. Recently she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship and Leadership by the International Leadership Association in Barcelona, Spain.


Past Winners

Gail Small Receives 2016 Matusak Courageous Leadership Award

DENVER - The Matusak Courageous Leadership Award was presented on October 8th, 2016 in Denver, CO at the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance 2016 Forum: Creating a Future where Children Thrive.

Gail, whose Cheyenne name is Vehonnaut (“Head Chief Woman”) grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation near Lame Deer, MT, where she still lives and works. She graduated from the University of Montana, and the University of Oregon School of Law. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at Montana State University, in Bozeman, MT.

Widely acclaimed for groundbreaking work on the intersection of culture, resource management, and environment—within the context of climate change and indigenous people’s sovereign rights—Gail has devoted her life to the betterment of Indian people. 

Gail began her career as a promoter of fishing rights and Indian religious freedom at California Indian Legal Services and an adjunct professor at Humboldt State University. In 1984 she returned home to founded Native Action—one of the first non-profits on an Indian Reservation.

The result of tireless organizing and long-term alliance building with Indian and non-Indian communities, her impact is felt across nations—shaping federal and tribal policies.

Through Native Action, Gail was instrumental in establishing the first bank, public high school and Chamber of Commerce on the Reservation and, in 2001, the founding of Cheyenne Stars—a program to address high suicide, rape, and early pregnancy rates among Cheyenne girls by building supportive, intergenerational relationships between girls, mothers, and elders.

Gail has strengthened tribal courts and governments and drafted key cultural, environmental, economic, and violence prevention policies for many tribes.

She’s helped set national precedent in asserting tribes’ primacy over Air and Water quality standards; in litigation and executive actions that protect sacred sites under federal regulations; and in combatting Indian voter discrimination.

Gail is not just what she has accomplished, but how she accomplishes it. She has a gift of keeping sight on the big picture, while focusing on each person’s needs.

The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance (KFLA) creates opportunities for 1,500 Kellogg Fellows from across the world to leave a significant legacy as a result of having participated in leadership development programs through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Founded in 2002, KFLA’s mission is to identify and implement solutions to complex challenges by expanding the work and the impact of these Fellows in collaboration with local leaders, one another and other foundations’ leadership alumni groups. For more information on the Matusak Courageous Leadership Award contact KFLA at (303) 839-5352.