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Dr. Natalie Welch (Cherokee) is the new executive director of  Rise Above, a nonprofit in Seattle dedicated to empowering Native youth. 

"We couldn't be more excited to welcome Dr. Welch to our growing team," said Jaci McCormack, CEO and founder of Rise Above, in a press release. "Her expertise, knowledge, and compassion will undoubtedly help us inspire even more kids."

With over a decade of professional experience in marketing and education, Welch earned her MBA from the University of Central Florida and her doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee, focusing her dissertation on Native American athletes' contributions to their communities. 

From the Qualla Boundry in Cherokee, Welch is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Before relocating to Seattle, she played a pivotal role in developing a sport management program at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon. Welch is also an active volunteer, coaching for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that supports the development of young girls. 

In her new role as executive director, Welch will oversee Rise Above’s community services, events, and collaborations with similar nonprofit organizations. She will also continue her position as a professor at Seattle University, teaching in the MBA in Sport and Entertainment program. 

"Dr. Welch's addition to our team will strengthen our mission of empowering Native kids," said Rise Above co-founder Brad Meyers in a press release. "With our projected growth, she will play a crucial role in expanding our impact."

Rise Above aims to grow by 25 percent annually over the next five years, doubling its staff and programming by 2025. To support this expansion, the organization is seeking talented professionals to develop new programs, secure funding, and manage strategic initiatives. 

"In the coming years, we have the opportunity to extend our reach beyond the Pacific Northwest by fostering key relationships across Indian Country and local governments," Welch said in a press release. "I am deeply committed to serving our Native communities and inspiring our youth to pursue their dreams."

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