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Pruden hails from northeast Alberta, Canada and is a member of the Cree Nation. He grew up on his mother's reservation, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, but is a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta.
He moved to New York City in May 1994. In addition to serving on the board of for the American Indian Community House’s board, he co-founded the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society in New York City. He works to organize the two-spirit community locally, nationally and internationally.
As the co-founder of NESS, he devoted much time and energy to revitalizing traditional cultural values, culture and ceremonies for Two-Spirit urban Native peoples that call NYC and the Tri-State area home.
He was also a co-chair of the National Native HIV/AIDS Coalition, one of the first national efforts within the HIV/AIDS field to include all of the Two-Spirit organizations and groups in the United States.
In 2011, Pruden was instrumental in helping the Chicago-Based Legacy Project, whose outdoor LGBT history installation, The Legacy Walk, will include a bronze plaque co-written by Pruden to commemorate the lives, gifts, and sacrifices of two-spirit people in their struggle for acknowledgment and respect within the larger LGBT community. In April 2011, Pruden was appointed to Manhattan Community Board 12, where he served as the chair of parks and cultural affairs.
In the spring of 2013, he was appointed to be an American representative to the International Indigenous Peoples Working Group on HIV/AIDS.
In August 2014, he was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, where he provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the White House on HIV/AIDS programs and policies. Pruden is the co-chair of the global subcommittee and a member for the health disparity subcommittee. He is one of the lead organizers of the National Confederacy of Two-Spirit Organizations; serves as the principal two-spirit consultant to USA’s federal agency of Substance Abuse Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center. He also serves as an honorary committee member of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, and is a native community advisory expert panel member for the University of Washington’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute.
Pruden has also contributed to SpeakOUT: LGBT Voices for Recovery, a program of the LGBT community center in New York City. As the project’s coordinator he oversaw a national program designed to increase awareness of the issues that confront LGBT people struggling to recover from alcohol and substance abuse.
Pruden is an experienced political activist and has worked on many political campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate race; as well as New York State Senate and New York City Council races. He has also served as chief of staff for Craig M. Johnson, state legislator when he was in the Nassau County Legislature.
Up until March 2014, Pruden worked for the State of New York’s Empire State Development Corporation in the Division of Minority & Women’s Business Development, which promotes equality of economic opportunities for MWBEs works towards the elimination of barriers to their participation in state contracts. Within his position, he managed the appeal process; assisted firms to navigate the certification process within the New York Contract System, assisted with the division’s public communications and marketing, as well as, drafted policy for the division.
- "Going Far From Home to Feel at Home", New York Times, July 17, 2007.
- "Two-Spirit Leader To Represent International Indigenous HIV/AIDS Working Group". Indian Country Today. May 20, 2013.
- "Harlan Pruden finds healing for LGBT First Nations in tradition". CBC News. January 9, 2015.
- "Strong Two-Spirit Leader Pruden Joins Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS". Indian Country Today. September 13, 2014.