My top 5 favorite memories from Travois conferences

In 20 years in business, Travois has hosted 15 annual conferences to share information about opportunities for creating new homes and businesses in Native communities. And we’re known to have some fun, too.

The first conference I had the pleasure of attending was back in 2008, the 8th annual conference. Through the years, I’ve made countless memories — hearing success stories from clients, meeting new people from all around the country and sharing in unique experiences. (Take a stroll down memory lane with this photo slideshow of past conferences, #20YearsEquals: 15 Travois Conferences.)

While I won’t recount all of them, I’d like to share my top 5 favorite memories from Travois conferences:

5. Visiting the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve (2011, Tulalip Resort Casino)
Tulalip Resort Casino

The 11th Annual Conference was spectacular for many reasons — staying at an amazing conference hotel and visiting the Pacific Northwest — but what has stuck in my mind was our tour of the Tulalip Tribes’ Hibulb Cultural Center. During our visit, I was captivated by the exhibitions and learning about the legacy of the Tulalip people. I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the Marysville, WA, area!

4. Kevin Red Star’s “Going Home” painting (Kansas City, 2010)
Kevin Red Star

Not long after Travois opened our new headquarters, we invited everyone to our hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. Kevin Red Star, an acclaimed Crow painter and printmaker whose works have been featured in exhibitions around the world, was our keynote speaker. Each attendee received a commemorative poster of his beautiful painting, “Going Home.” I have my poster in my office and look at it every day.

3. Touring a construction site (Casino Del Sol Resort, 2012)
Tour of Pascua Yaqui Education Center

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe showed us the meaning of the word “hospitality” when we held our 12th Annual Conference at the Casino Del Sol Resort in Tucson, AZ. They made us feel extremely welcome, served incredible (and beautiful) food, and helped us arrange amazing tours of their Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects and a New Markets Tax Credit project, Itom Mahtawa’apo, the tribe’s 40,000-square-foot education center. We saw the project while it was still under construction and heard about its potential. It is exciting to see that the tribe’s plans have come to fruition and get updates on students who are learning at the center.

2. Superhero Awards Luncheon (New Orleans, 2015)

So, this is a recent memory but a really good one. Last month, Chairman David Bland, Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Bland Glynn and others took to the stage to spotlight 10 industry superheroes and one tribe who have worked to create new housing and businesses in Native communities. There were tears, laughs and a few surprises. Read more about the award winners here.

1. Walking a mile with an Olympic gold medalist (Casino Del Sol Resort, 2012)
Walking for Health - Travois

With Billy Mills as our keynote speaker, we had the opportunity to hear his inspiring story of how he won an Olympic gold medal and all the important work he has done since then with his foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Mr. Mills was an amazing storyteller and recounted how he turned his life around from a low point and went on to achieve greatness. He was extremely generous with his time — he signed autographs, posed for hundreds of photos and even participated in our one-mile walk for health. It was an amazing experience!

I promise we’ll make more memories at our 16th Annual Conference in 2016. I hope to see you in Nashville!

How many Travois conferences have you attended? What is your favorite memory? We’d love to hear them. Please leave us a comment below.