Nichole June Maher became Inatai Foundation’s inaugural president and CEO in October 2018, after six years at Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF). In her first year, Nichole and Inatai Foundation staff visited all of Washington’s 39 counties multiple times. Under Nichole’s guidance, the foundation used the learnings from community visits to build our early-stage infrastructure—from articulating how we approach critical areas of work, to designing equity-centered grantmaking programs, and creating a values-driven investment office. The foundation also began significant grantmaking under Nichole’s leadership, committing $200 million in grants since 2019 with more than 80 percent of funding supporting people-of-color-led organizations.
Before joining Inatai Foundation, Nichole led NWHF to become a national forerunner in equity and a champion of supporting community vision for health in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Prior to that, Nichole served as the executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), an Oregon- and Southwest Washington-serving organization widely recognized as having one of the most effective and innovative wraparound family service models for Native Americans in the United States. During those eleven years at NAYA, Nichole’s most satisfying and impactful accomplishment was co-founding the Coalition of Communities of Color, a powerful advocacy group in the Northwest region.
Nichole has served on a number of governing boards, including Grantmakers in Health, Heritage University, Philanthropy Northwest, National Urban Indian Family Coalition, and Northwest Indian College Foundation. She holds an MPH from the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. She also completed a fellowship at Harvard Medical School and the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Medical Education program at Yale Medical School. Nichole is proud of her Alaskan Native heritage and all of the lessons she learned growing up in rural communities in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. She is the mother of three young children and is a resident of Kitsap County, living as a guest on the land of the Suquamish people.