It was an emotional evening for nine graduates of the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino’s Tribal Professional Development (TriPoD) Program, who were honored Jan. 28 at a banquet.
Most of the tribal and community member participants expressed gratitude to the Casino, tribe and their families for supporting them through the program, which encourages leadership development through hands-on learning with mentors and monthly forums.
Clyde Campbell, one of the program graduates who spoke at the banquet, said he learned what true leadership is.
“Being a good leader is caring for your people,” he said.
Other graduates said they learned about time management and others said they realized what they hope to give back to the community.
Sabrina Campbell said she would like to get the community more health conscious and Randy Lewis said he would like to create a place for community elders to come together to socialize.
General Manager Farrell Hoosava said he was encouraged to see all of the graduates got so much out of the program, which is only in its third year of existence.
“It is about paying it forward,” he said.
Hoosava and Kathy Hinton, the casino’s human resource director, envisioned creating a leadership program for many years. In 2008, the program launched with several casino employees.
Last year, four casino employees graduated from the program and have since made huge changes to their lives.
Most noticeably, Lucinda Flores, a former players club representative, is now one of the casino’s pastry chefs.
Flores said she always wanted to attend pastry school, but never thought it would happen. After working with a mentor, Flores figured out she could make her dream a reality with hard work.
Since graduating from a Valley pastry school, Flores took over in a new bakeshop at the casino and makes 95 percent of the casinos desserts in-house.
Aspirations of past and current participants include attaining management positions in the casino, becoming business owners, council members, an airline pilot, an author, heavy equipment operator and developing programs to help the community.
Hoosava began phase three with a challenge to the participants to make a difference in themselves, their business and their community. The program motto is “where leadership begins,” and the TriPoD team is excited about the accomplishments of its participants and the growing momentum of the program, said Program Coordinator Patricia Wisner.
This year’s program began in August of 2009 and ended January 2010 with nine participants, including Junior Burdette, Clyde Campbell, Sabrina Campbell, Belinda Guerra, Randy Lewis, Laura Nanty, Susie Smith, Tifany Tinnin and Donavan Waterman.
Wisner explained the program takes a three-pronged approach to development.
The first prong is individual development. Participants commit to an individual development plan that assists them in attaining personal and professional goals.
Each participant has a mentor who attends planning meetings and forums and works closely with them.
The second prong focuses on the tribe’s organization. Participants attend monthly forums to learn about business concepts, including personal finance, historic view of government and economic changes, entrepreneurship and leadership principles.
The program’s third prong is the community prong and aims to increase awareness of community issues, strengthen relationships and promote collaboration.
Topics included Native American health issues, history and function of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the political process. During this prong, participants took field trips to a site known as Indian Hill (present Rim View Road) and to stores in the Valley for a professional image workshop.
Participants also voted in a mock election after listening to campaign speeches by four members of Payson High School’s Theater Program.
Participants take on projects
Throughout the third phase, participants worked on projects. Burdette (phase 2 graduate) and Waterman explored avenues for helping Tribal youth. Nanty (phase 2 graduate) and Tinnin researched time management and gave a presentation on finding balance between work and family.
Guerra prepared an analysis on two different politicians and shared her findings. Nanty is also designing a museum exhibit for the casino, “Tonto Apache Tribe Then and Now.”
Lita Nicholson and Sandy Carson from the Northern Gila County Historical Society and Caesar Chaves and Dan Johnson from the Heard Museum gave tours and expert advice on creating museum-quality exhibits.
Guest speakers throughout the TriPoD program include Carlyle Begay with American Indian Health Management & Policy, Inc.; Jeri Johnson-DeCola of the Tonto Apache Tribe; Joseph Perez, president of Initial Impressions; tribal historian Vincent Randall; and James Williams, superintendent of Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Wisner wished to thank the program’s planning team members Linda Beckham, Nancy Boss, Hinton, Allen Holder, Hoosava, Meridith Johnson, Deniese Morgan, Nanty, Luci Shaw, Jim Shuman and Michele Sikes for their hard work and dedication.