50 Faces of Indian Country 2016 III
In 2015 ICTMN introduced the 50 Faces of Indian Country magazine to celebrate the wealth of talented American Indians across Indian country. Last month the second annual issue, 50 Faces of Indian Country 2016, was published to highlight once again the work of a new crop of accomplished individuals and role models—including actors, leaders, and activists—who can offer inspiration to Native youth on a daily basis.
After all, what’s more uplifting than enjoying the positive contributions being made by some of the most talented people on the planet?
Below are the second 10 from 2016’s 50 Faces.
See the full magazine here.
The Mold Breaker: Karen Diver
If there was a search in Indian country for a person who best exemplifies determination and perseverance, Karen R. Diver’s name would be on the list. The former chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota stepped down from that position after nine years to serve as the Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs in November, 2015. Diver’s career path wasn’t an easy one. It began when she was a 15-year-old single mother struggling to support her daughter while continuing to educate herself. The hard work has certainly paid off. Prior to her role in the White House, Diver served as Vice President of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and chaired its finance corporation. She was also Director of Special Projects for Fond du Lac. Her 11 years as Executive Director of the YWCA in Duluth saw her working on human rights issues that included early childhood education and reproductive rights. “During my time with the Obama Administration, I have focused on engaging with the federal agency staff that support the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Their commitment to Indian country will survive this Administration and their ambitious efforts will continue to benefit our communities,” Diver told ICTMN. “Consultation and engagement with tribes is also a key part of our work, ensuring that Indian country has a voice in the policymaking process.”
The Health Giver: Patricia Parker
Patricia Parker, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is dedicated to giving back to Indian country. She was raised in the small Indian community of Kulli Tuklo until age 5, when her family relocated to Idabell, Oklahoma. She followed in her father Gabe Parker’s footsteps: “We’re second-generation Indian Health Service (IHS) and second-generation working for Indian people,” she says. She became the IHS director of communications, meanwhile gaining keen insight into the administration of federal contracts. This experience led her to found Native American Management Services (NAMS) with her sister, Tonya Parker, in 1992. NAMS leads training and technical assistance, and handles conference and media management with the Administration for Native Americans, Indian housing and tribal child care. Last year, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma through Miami Nation Enterprises bought a majority stake in NAMS. Parker continues to serve as CEO. Throughout her 24 years of leading NAMS, Parker has remained steadfast in her dedication to financial and business transparency. The number-one piece of advice she gives to new entrepreneurs and small businesses is “find your passion… and a good accountant.” In 2011, she was asked to join the board of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Parker is instrumental in “organizational development and business process management. Those are things that I love to do.”
The Health Warrior: Jo Ann Kauffman
Jo Ann Kauffman, a prominent Nez Perce tribal member, overcame poverty and a difficult childhood to become a nationally recognized advocate for Indian health and justice. In 1990, she founded Kauffman & Associates, Inc. (KAI), based on Capitol Hill and in Spokane, Washington. The firm has about 40 contracts with tribes; tribal organizations; foundations; private-sector businesses; and regional, state and federal agencies. She is particularly proud of KAI’s work that empowers youth and fights to turn the tide on substance abuse, suicide, violence and bullying in Indian country. Prior to founding KAI, she worked in the field of Indian healthcare for many years, including serving as executive director of the Seattle Indian Health Board, and also founding the National Association for Native American Children of Alcoholics. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.
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