Members in the News

April Member of the Month - Molly Tovar

April 2024
Molly Tovar, the founding partner at TrailTree Consulting, is the April Member of the Month in a new interview series launched by IWF-DC VP of Communications Susan Apgood to showcase women leaders and get to know one another better.

Q&A with Molly Tovar 

Q: Tell us about you and where you work.
I serve as a faculty associate, educational consultant, mentor, and Indigenous leader, dividing my time between Alexandria, Virginia, and Mannford, Oklahoma. My current focus involves consulting for various clients, including grant writing, strategic planning, and research. Recently, one of my consulting contracts resulted in an invitation to present our research project at an international conference, which I am currently preparing for.

Q.  Tell us about a fulfilling leadership achievement.
One of my most fulfilling achievements in a previous leadership position was leading the team that established the Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship (GMS) program for American Indian and Alaska Native students. This program aimed to promote academic excellence by providing thousands of underserved students with full scholarships for higher education. As the program gained momentum, I was asked to direct and oversee the Leadership Division for all partner organizations across the U.S. Another rewarding opportunity was directing the American Indian Studies for the School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where I collaborated with interdisciplinary teams, including the School of Medicine, focusing on health disparities in Native American communities.

Q. How long have you been an IWF Member?
I have been a member for approximately 22 years. I was honored to be selected as a fellow in 2002, representing the state of New Mexico. One of my professional career transitions took me to St. Louis, Missouri. While living in St. Louis, I became very active within the MIWF and was invited to join the board. Upon returning to Oklahoma in 2019, I became a member of OIWF. Currently, I hold dual membership with OIWF and the Washington D.C. IWF, and I am excited to attend events and meet members from the D.C. chapter.

Q. How has your career benefited from being an IWF member?
Being an IWF member has provided me with a range of opportunities and benefits. The sense of community and support has been critical for me during various relocations for career opportunities. The immediate friendships and support system within the membership helped me adjust to new areas where I did not have professional or personal connections. Additionally, networking opportunities allowed me to connect with leaders, peers in my field, and experts, leading to partnerships, mentorship, and career advancements. This support network was invaluable for sharing experiences, seeking advice, and navigating challenges in my career.

Q. What excites you most right now? 
Indigenous culture has driven some of the most important TV and film projects of the last year and Indigenous representation has grown and developed in Hollywood and in the arts. While there has been extensive progress in the quality of the representation, there is still a long way to go but it makes me thrilled to watch indigenous writers, actors, directors, and producers to take their stories into their own hands.

Q. What are you reading or listening to?
Currently, I am reading "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants" by Robin Wall Kimmerer and "Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR" by Lisa Napoli. I also enjoy listening to "The Assignment with Audie Cornish Podcast" for discussions about current issues, events, and policies.

Q. Any tips or advice for new members?
Based on my own experience as an IWF member, I recommend actively participating in events, seeking out mentorship opportunities, becoming proactive in engaging with the IWF community, and taking advantage of the resources available.

Q. Tell us about a hobby you enjoy?
The beauty of a hummingbird, the flight of an eagle, and the song of a chickadee draws me to birdwatching. Bird-scaping is a valued meditation for me, although I am more of a casual observer. Wherever I travel I seek out areas where birds live. In Hawaii, I saw the red-crested cardinal, and in Volcan Baru, Panama, I encountered species like the Rufous motmot, the Quetzal, the toucans, and glorious parrots in flight. Engaging in this pastime, whether spotting a feathered friend in my backyard, or in a far corner of the world, allows me to relax, reflect, and meditate.