Program Helping Tribe Improve Leadership


In its short history, the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino’s leadership program has had a strikingly positive effect on its participants.


Tashina Smith, Karl Watts and Jamie Waterman are part of the fourth class to graduate from the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino’s Tribal Professional Development program.

One man dreamed of serving on tribal council and shortly after completing the program, joined the council. Another woman aspired to become a chef and she now serves as the casino’s first official pastry chef. Two women envisioned creating a museum display of the tribe’s history and just a few months ago that display was unveiled.

Now four more participants have graduated from the Tribal Professional Development (TriPoD) program and are well on their way to completing their goals.

The most recent phase of the program began in August of 2010 and on March 23, fourth phase participants Eden Johnson, Tashina Smith, Jamie Waterman and Karl Watts were honored at a banquet for completion of the program.

During the course, Smith worked on a project that explored creativity and brain development. Waterman looked at the link between education and finances and its implications on individuals and communities and Watts gave a demonstration on staying fit with your children.

“The program’s 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 Patricia Wisner, executive assistant/TriPoD program coordinator in an e-mail. “Other projects initiated in earlier phases continue to develop.”

Phase two participants Teri Alba and Shawna Davis unveiled a tribal history display, known as “Tonto Apache Tribe Then and Now,” in November. The exhibit gives casino visitors an opportunity to learn about the tribe’s history.

Phase two participant Lucinda Flores continues to work in the casino’s bakery department. She has also participated in an all women’s chef event at the Phoenix Art Institute in the fall of 2010 and in March entered the Taste of the Rim Country competition at the Payson Public Library. In addition, she hosted a field trip to the Mazatzal Bakery for tribal youth.

Phase three partaker Laura Nanty continues to hone her skills as a public speaker by teaching lessons on finance as well as representing parents at recent school board meetings.

Both Donavan Waterman and Junior Tinnin continue to work toward a holistic program to meet the needs of tribal youth, and Tinnin achieved his goal of serving on the tribal council.

“The success of the program ultimately relies on the commitment of the participants,” Wisner said.

TriPoD is a leadership development program for tribal and community members. Participants are employees from the Tonto Apache Tribal Enterprises.

General Manager Farrell Hoosava had envisioned the program for a number of years. In 2008, Hoosava started the program with help from the casino’s human resources director, Kathy Hinton.

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 works closely with a mentor.

The second prong is the organizational prong. Participants attend monthly forums on business concepts, including professionalism, finding balance between work and family, finance and budgeting, entrepreneurialism, electronic communications, public speaking and much more.

The program’s third prong is the community prong and aims to increase awareness of community issues, strengthen relationships and promote collaboration. Topics included tribal history, Native American health issues and public service.

Guest speakers in phase four included past participants as well as Carlyle Begay, with the American Indian Health Management and Policy, Inc.; Joseph Perez, president of Initial Impressions; Vincent Randall, a tribal historian; James Williams, superintendent at the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and Erica Sanders, the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Arizona.


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