Travois hosted its 15th Annual Indian Country Affordable Housing & Economic Development Conference in New Orleans. The company, celebrating 20 years in business and $1 billion of investment in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities, recognized 11 outstanding industry professionals and an American Indian tribe at a Superhero Awards luncheon on Sept. 22 at Le Meridien.
“Our clients, partners and these superheroes are the most hard working and dedicated people in our industries, working in the most challenging conditions in the country,” said David Bland, chairman and CEO of Travois. “It has been an honor to work with them over the last 20 years, and I know they will make the next 20 years even better. We congratulate and thank them for making a difference.”
Peers submitted nominations for 11 award categories. The awards winners are:
Impact – Chancy Kittson, executive director of the Blackfeet Housing Department; Browning, MT
Kittson has worked as the executive director since 2010 and has led the effort to bring more than 100 new Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) homes to tribal members. He has spent significant time and energy thinking about how to create not only a safe community with new homes and playgrounds but also a beautiful and sustainable community with architecturally-innovative and energy-efficient homes.
Visionary – Scott Moses, executive director of Warm Springs Housing Authority and member of Warm Springs Tribal Council; Warm Springs, OR
Under Moses’ leadership, WSHA has nearly completed it first LIHTC project, with a value of $9.7 million, which is creating 35 architecturally-innovative and energy-efficient homes and a multipurpose community room. It took considerable effort to move the project forward in Oregon, a state where no tribal tax credit projects had been undertaken in the last 20 years.
Advocate Housing — Angela Christy, attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels; Minneapolis, MN
Christy was key in making the LIHTC program work in Indian Country when Travois was founded 20 years ago. Along with David Bland, Travois founder, she worked to ensure that NAHASDA funding is compatible with tax credits, an idea that initially faced significant pushback in the industry. She has provided legal services to more tribal LIHTC developments than any other attorney by a wide margin.
Advocate Economic Development – Darryl Jacobs, attorney with Ginsberg Jacobs; Chicago, IL
Jacobs has been critical to the success of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program in Indian Country. His willingness to think outside of the box to bring capital to tribal economic development projects has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to tribal reservations and Native Hawaiian communities.
Pillar — Marvin Burnette, assistant projects manager at White Mountain Apache Housing Authority; Whiteriver, AZ
Burnette knows all about persistence; he has supervised six Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments and countless other affordable housing projects over the years on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. His attention to detail and extensive construction knowledge ensured that White Mountain’s sixth LIHTC project came in under budget using a force account. Using the force account allowed the housing authority to increase housing staff and reduce unemployment in the area. He knows how to manage a project, stretch a dollar, and battle the elements to deliver a quality product on time.
Haven — Desirae Wallace, project coordinator at the Warm Springs Housing Authority; Warm Springs, OR
Wallace has been instrumental to the success of the Warm Springs Housing Authority’s first LIHTC project, located within the Greeley Heights subdivision on the Warm Springs Reservation. She works hard to help families move into the 35 new single-family homes, listening to their needs and putting plans into action. She helped plan and coordinate the project’s grand opening and continues to go above and beyond to create a haven for tribal families in Oregon.
Next 20 – Housing – Jeff Ackley, Jr., Sokaogon Chippewa Community tribal administrator and Housing Authority executive director; Crandon, WI
In addition to managing a significant stock of rental and homeowner housing, Ackley has successfully won three LIHTC projects in his home state of Wisconsin to encourage tribal members to return and live in their community. He balances his many obligations as a community leader, executive director of a housing authority, president of his local school board, and owner of several small businesses with determination and persistence.
Next 20 – Economic Development – Dakota Cole, undersecretary of the treasury for the Chickasaw Nation; Ada, OK
Cole is a CPA, a rancher, Undersecretary of Treasury for the Chickasaw Nation and managing director for Chickasaw Nation Community Development Endeavor. Cole was appointed by longtime Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. As Undersecretary of Treasury and managing director for the tribe’s community development endeavor, Cole plays a key role implementing Gov. Anoatubby’s economic development plans for the Chickasaw Nation. Cole will also help deploy the Chickasaw Nation CDE’s $20 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation across all of Indian Country in the coming year.
Milestone – Economic Development – Tamar deFries, principal with Pacific Growth Associates; Honolulu, HI
DeFries has helped build a strong foundation for Native Hawaiian communities by getting them the capital they need for economic development projects. She has great focus and amazing energy and enthusiasm for her culture, her projects and her vision for what is possible.
Milestone – Housing – Jane Barrett, executive director, and Linda McGraw-Adams, assistant executive director of the Red Lake Reservation Housing Authority; Red Lake, MN
Barrett and McGraw-Adams have worked in tandem for decades to provide housing to their fellow tribal members with 11 LIHTC developments. Responsible for creating or rehabilitating 287 homes, they have forever changed their community for the better. They also work to help tribes in the region access affordable housing information by coordinating the Minnesota Indian Housing Conference and hosting community meetings and conference sessions talking about their experiences and best practices for other affordable housing professionals.
Initiative — Pascua Yaqui Tribe and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Housing Department
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe and housing department has used both LIHTCs and NMTCs to build 193 homes, an $8.7 million education center and a $9 million health and wellness center for their approximately 19,000 tribal members in Arizona. Their incredible initiative has created hundreds of jobs, provided homes for tribal elders and families, provided comprehensive health and social services, and a space for Yaqui language and other cultural and continuing education classes.