Housing and economic development “superheroes” honored at Travois Annual Conference

Travois recently presented five community Superhero Awards to four individuals and one project team who exemplify professionalism and have achieved impressive results in the affordable housing and economic development industries in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.

Led by CEO Elizabeth Glynn, Travois and its sponsors presented awards during a luncheon at its 16th Annual Indian Country Affordable Housing & Economic Development Conference, held this spring in Nashville, Tenn.

“For the second year at our annual conference, we recognized people who are doing incredible work in Native communities,” said Elizabeth Glynn, CEO of Travois. “Every day, we see firsthand the difference that dedicated professionals make in Native communities. They work in the toughest economic environments, serving the highest-need people in the United States. We recognize and congratulate these superheroes, who have gone above and beyond, who are an inspiration to us all and motivation to continue reaching for our goals.”

Peers submitted nominations in five award categories. The winners are:

Project Team of the Year – Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association; Sells, AZ

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Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association (TOKA) was awarded the Project Team of the Year for representing what many are striving for in Indian Country affordable housing and economic development. This team has used new ideas and courageous action to aggressively pursue its mission.

Led by executive director Pete Delgado, TOKA has been providing housing services to the Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona for 50 years. The team has worked hard to create change in their community, recently undertaking two Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects, which will rehabilitate 60 homes and build an additional 20 new homes, using primarily private investor funding.

“None of this would have been possible without the efforts and dedication of the entire TOKA team, board of directors, legislative leadership and community support,” Delgado said. “Additionally, we are extremely thankful for the support of the Travois team.”

 

Housing Professional of the Year – Sharie Benson, executive director of Yavapai-Apache Nation Tribal Housing (YANTH); Camp Verde, AZ 

Sharie Benson and Elizabeth Glynn

Benson was honored for representing the highest professional standards and bringing new ideas and a fresh perspective to the task of providing affordable housing. She has made a big impact on affordable housing in Indian Country in a relatively short amount of time. At YANTH, she started as an accountant, then controller and is now executive director.

Benson blends both finance and heart and is motivated by creating a better community for those around her. Most recently, YANTH received news that its sixth tax credit project received an allocation of LIHTCs from the Arizona Department of Housing. This project will build 35 new homes, a community building and a public park on the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde, AZ.

“It was truly an honor to be recognized by an organization like Travois,” Benson said. “The greatest obstacle we have in business is finding partners who make us better at what we do by doing what they do. With Travois, we have found that partner.”

 

Economic Development Organization of the Year – Native American Bank (NAB); Denver, CO

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NAB was awarded the Economic Development Organization of the Year for its contribution in building strong communities. NAB, founded in 2001 by 20 tribal nations and Alaska Native Corporations, is the only national American Indian-owned community development bank in the country. It helps Native individuals, enterprises and governments to reach their goals by providing affordable and flexible capital and financial services.

“Just like Travois, NAB has been expanding our impact across Indian Country,” said Joel Smith, chief credit officer of NAB. “We feel honored to have the recognition from Travois of NAB’s success in bringing much needed capital to reservation communities in order to make possible economic development and housing projects.”

 

Pillar of the Year – Advanced Native Construction (ANC); Damascus, OR 

Ed Williams, Advanced Native Construction

ANC is a Native-owned construction company that received the Pillar of the Year Award for knowing how to manage a project, stretch a dollar, and battle the elements to deliver a quality product on time. Their hard work and persistence has been critical to the success of Indian Country projects.

Most recently, ANC managed a 35-home new construction project in the Greeley Heights subdivision on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon. In addition to constructing beautiful, new single-family homes, ANC also built a multipurpose community room, which included a kitchen and meeting areas. The project was completed four months early and on budget. ANC has also worked on many other tribal developments in the Northwest.

“All of us here at Advanced Native Construction are so grateful to be recognized for our work on the Greeley Heights Project,” said Ed Williams, project manager. “The Greeley Heights project was a perfect example of what can be achieved when technical skills, preparation, and respectful, open communication are encouraged. I commend the Travois team for all the quick responses and everyone at Warm Springs Housing Authority for being so quick to help with anything I needed to keep the project running smoothly. It was my pleasure to be part of this project.”

 

Haven of the Year – Eva Doyle, LIHTC specialist at the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo housing department; Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, TX

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Doyle has worked in the affordable housing industry since 1982 and is a member of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She is a housing department employee who listens to the needs of the families she serves and puts plans into action. She is very involved in her community and makes sure her tenants have everything they need. She’s the heart of the department and has been a stable presence for years, providing guidance and advice to many.

“Helping my people meet one of man’s most basic needs offers the greatest joy and satisfaction,” Doyle said. “It is both gratifying and challenging to see potential tenants move along their journey from applicants to residents. Their dream of owning a home produces a feeling that is beyond words and is matchless!”

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