We are thrilled to be celebrating our 20th anniversary in business this year. But what we’re most excited about is celebrating what you – our clients and partners – have done over the past 20 years and what you’re doing to make the next 20 years even better.
Earlier this year, we started a #20YearsEquals campaign to highlight success stories across Indian Country. We continued this campaign at our annual conference last month in New Orleans with a special luncheon and awards ceremony at our 20th Anniversary Superhero Awards. We recognized 12 outstanding professionals who bring housing and economic development to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.
The awards ceremony was wonderful. We laughed (mostly over our Grammys-like award music), we shed a few happy tears, and we were in awe learning about the dedication that each of our award winners gives to the communities they serve.
We hope it’s the start of an annual tradition to recognize the incredible work you are all doing in Indian Country. (Nominations for our 2016 awards will open soon. Be sure to submit a nomination for the person you think deserves it most!)
I’d like to congratulate our 12 awardees on all of their hard work. Your work is an inspiration to us all and motivation to continue working! Our Superheroes are:
- Impact – Chancy Kittson, executive director of the Blackfeet Housing Department
- Visionary – Scott Moses, executive director of Warm Springs Housing Authority
- Advocate Housing – Angela Christy, an attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels
- Advocate Economic Development – Darryl Jacobs, attorney with Ginsberg Jacobs
- Pillar – Marvin Burnette, assistant projects manager at White Mountain Apache Housing Authority
- Haven – Desirae Wallace, project coordinator at the Warm Springs Housing Authority
- Next 20 – Housing – Jeff Ackley Jr., Sokaogon Chippewa Community tribal administrator and Housing Authority executive director
- Next 20 – Economic Development – Dakota Cole, undersecretary of treasury for the Chickasaw Nation
- Milestone – Economic Development – Tamar DeFries, principal with Pacific Growth Associates
- and 11. Milestone – Housing – Jane Barrett and Linda McGraw Adams of the Red Lake Reservation Housing Authority
- Initiative – Pascua Yaqui Tribe and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Housing Department
We’ll spotlight our first two winners today, who are both executive directors, and then we’ll highlight the remaining winners in the coming weeks.
Chancy Kittson, executive director of the Blackfeet Housing Department – Impact Superhero
As a former rodeo cowboy, Chancy knows that sometimes you have to take big risks to make a big impact. As tribal housing’s executive director since 2010, he has worked to bring more than 100 new tax credit 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.
A carpenter by trade, he helped build low-income units on the reservation early in his career more than 15 years ago, experience that has been invaluable to him as the now executive director. Concerned with making an impact beyond just the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, he serves as the treasurer on the National American Indian Housing Council’s board of directors and is its region 5 representative.
Scott Moses, executive director of Warm Springs Housing Authority – Visionary Superhero
Scott is an elected official and someone working on the front lines of affordable housing — perfectly suited to see the big picture for building a community for all tribal members with a solid foundation in affordable housing.
A member of the Warm Springs Tribal Council, he is a Seekseekqua district representative serving a three-year term through 2016 and the executive director of the Warm Springs Housing Authority. His vision for a better future for his tribal members has led to many reforms at the tribal council level and brought financing to build 35 architecturally innovative and energy efficient homes to his reservation in the state of Oregon, where no tribal tax credit projects have been undertaken in the last 20 years.
Read a story about Warm Springs’ project grand opening here: http://travois.com/warm-springs-housing-authority-celebrates-grand-opening/.
To read more about our Superhero Awards, visit our conference webpage.