Published December 9, 2016
NEW YORK – The Specialty Food Association has named Mark Tilsen (Lakota) a recipient as one of six winners of the 2017 Leadership Awards, honoring industry frontrunners who have gone above and beyond in advancing food standards in society—and society itself–by creating social, economic and environmental impact through innovation and vision.
Tilsen co-founded Native American Natural Foods to return the sacred buffalo to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The company’s Tanka Bar, made from dried bison and fruit, has created employment opportunities for the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s citizens and helped to improve their diets in an isolated land.
A lifelong supporter of Native American causes, Mr. Tilsen began working as a volunteer in 1973 for the Wounded Knee Defense Offense Committee, which his parents co-founded. Since that time, he has honed his skills coordinating award-winning, database-driven direct marketing campaigns that have raised more than million for Native American educational and environmental organizations.
Tilsen has co-founded several successful community organizations and businesses, including:
- KILI Radio, the largest indigenous community-owned radio station in North America.
- The Black Hills Alliance. a coalition of Native and non-Native Americans that had a major impact on changing the environmental policies and practices in the Black Hills.
- Direct Expressions, the company that launched the first direct marketing campaigns for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and Oglala Lakota College.