Tonto Apache tribal employees who participated in the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino’s Tribal Professional Development Program (TriPoD) were honored at a banquet Thursday night.
Four participants were rewarded for completing the six-month program, which develops leadership, business and life skills. The program was started by General Manager Farrell Hoosava a year ago and has already had three tribal members graduate successfully.
Hoosava had long envisioned starting a program that taught tribe members business and leadership concepts, but also touched on community issues, politics and Native American health.
“We are giving them the tools they need to meet goals,” Hoosava said.
“We want them to know they can do it, if you dream it, then do it.”
Hoosava along with Human Resource Director Kathy Hinton launched a pilot program in January 2008 that wrapped up in July.
After substantial success with the pilot program, with two participants now in college or a trade school, phase two of the project was planned and began in August 2008 with four new participants, including Shawna Davis, who works in the audit department; Lucinda Flores, a players club representative; Teri Nanty, conference sales coordinator and Junior Tinnin, a slot technician.
Program coordinator Patricia Wisner said the program is designed around three areas or prongs.
The first prong is individual development. Participants created a developmental plan that will assist them in attaining personal and professional goals. Each participant had two mentors who attended planning meetings and forums with them and helped them develop the plan, Wisner said.
Nanty said the process of setting goals changed her life plan.
“My personal goals have now found balance with my professional goals and I could never have gained this much progress, in this amount of time forging ahead on my own,” Nanty said.
“TriPoD has established itself as a phenomenal tool for mapping life goals, personally and professionally.”
During the second prong of the program participants focused on the casino organization. Participants again attended more forums that focused on business concepts, including personal finance, chain of command, micro and macroeconomics and leadership principles.
“We want to teach everyone how the business works and how to operate it,” Hoosava said. “Because when decisions are made, not everyone understands why they were made.”
In the final prong, participants focused on community.
“It aims to increase awareness of community issues, strengthen relationships and promote collaboration,” Wisner said.
“Topics include Native American health disparities, Apache legends, socially responsible investing and tribal political structure.”
During the third prong, participants visited the Payson Town Hall, Rim View Road, formerly Indian Hill, and Dillard’s for a professional image workshop.
Shortly after completing the program, Flores and her 22-year-old daughter enrolled in a Scottsdale pastry school.
“I always wanted to do it, but I never thought it would happen,” Flores said. After working with a mentor, Flores figured out how to make her dream of decorating wedding cakes a reality.
“I would highly recommend this program to others,” she said.
Davis, a recent Payson High School graduate, said she wants to open her own business and now has the tools to do it — she just has to figure out what kind of business she wants to open.
“It changes all the time,” she joked.
Some of the highlights of the program were speakers Payson Mayor Kenny Evans who spoke about leadership, former tribal chairperson Jeri Johnson-DeCola, Star Valley Planning and Zoning Commission member Steve Salatti and Kevin Dick of Kevin Dick Investments and Financial Services.
Participants also had the opportunity to vote in a mock election presented by four members of Payson High School’s advanced theatre group and listen to master storyteller and Apache historian Vincent Randall.