The Mazatzal Hotel and Casino and Tonto Apache Tribe honored another round of graduates from its innovative professional development program Aug. 28 with a banquet.
This is the fifth time the casino has hosted TriPoD, a leadership development program founded in 2008 by then-general manager Farrell Hoosava, who now serves on the tribal council. He dreamed of offering tribal members a way to grow personally as well as professionally and at the same time give back to the community.
Dozens of Tonto Apache Tribal Enterprises employees have since graduated from the program. One participant attended pastry school and became a chef, two more joined the tribal council and others have gone back to school or started community programs. Donavan Waterman, who completed the program in phase three, is now the program’s director.
This year’s participants, who for the first time also included the greater tribal community, are no different. For their final projects, participant Jennifer Flores worked on a program to bring computers to the kids in the community; Jordan Hinton talked about building a small business; Christy LaBadie worked on improving safety in elder homes; Marquel White organized a fund-raiser basketball tournament to benefit the youth; Maria Moreno worked on healthy eating and lifestyle and Paul Burdette on helping single parents.
Participants started the fifth phase in January and completed several assignments during the eight-month program. Assignments included tracking spending and creating a budget, preparing and delivering a campaign speech and identifying professionalism strengths and weaknesses.
Participants also determined those beliefs that defined them and presented on their final project at a forum on Aug. 22. They also all worked with a mentor, including Jamie Waterman, Bill Butler, Brian Echols, Reed Cox, Tashina Smith and Tifany Tinnin.
Program participants commit to making a difference in themselves, their business and their community. At the onset of the program participants identify personal and professional goals and work with their mentor on a development plan to achieve these goals.
Participants attend monthly forums to learn about business concepts and to increase awareness of key issues affecting the tribal community.
Guest speakers in this phase included Vincent Randall, tribal historian, on Apache history; Casilda Johnson, tribal elder, on tribal history; Kevin and Carrie Dick of Kevin Dick Investment Management Group, on financial fitness; Colten Curtis, tribal member, on substance abuse; and Shaun Martin, teacher and coach, on obstacles and opportunities.
Team members also presented on various topics and drama teacher Kathy Siler and students from the PHS Drama Class assisted with a mock election activity.
The team has assisted other tribes with the development of their professional programs through presentations on TriPoD at conferences.
The program motto is “where leadership begins,” and the TriPoD team is excited about the accomplishments of its participants, the growing momentum of the program, and making a difference in Indian country, said Patricia Wisner, training and development manager/TriPoD program coordinator.
Waterman hopes the seeds that have been planted in this phase’s participants will grow.
“The sky is the limit,” he said.
Other members of the TriPoD planning team included team photographer Allen Holder, Daniel Waterman, Michele Sikes and Wisner.