Advancing Communities Hosts Tribal Leadership Forum

Advancing Communities hosted a Tribal Leadership Symposium at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn on Apr. 2.

Nikishna Polequaptewa, Founding President and CEO of Advancing Communities Foundation said the Symposium is geared toward department Directors, organizational leaders, business owners, employees who want to branch out and bring their skills into their offices and anyone who is looking to gain new skills. “There are a lot of non-profit and small businesses out here that I have done assessments on through the Hopi Corp. program and noticed some needs and gaps that need to be filled,” said Polequaptewa.

The symposium focused on: • Organizational money management: Estimates, Invoicing, Payment processing, Bookkeeping and Tax Deductions. • Options for proper Information Technology (IT) and Data Management: Managing organizational computers, devices, data & technology systems. • Business promotion & management: Branding, marketing materials & ROI-focused distributions strategies. • Hopi Chamber of Commerce: What can the Chamber do for you, your organization and the community? • Organizational development: How to lay the foundation for a growing business or organization.

Polequaptewa said he lives by this philosophy, “Practice what you preach”, and has always wanted to come back to the Hopi reservation and share what he has learned while away at school. The symposium was planned with a budget of under $5K using his (individual or program’s) own funds; Polequaptewa said it is an investment into his community. “It takes talent and skills to be able to host a big event with such a small budget,” said Polequaptewa. “And we will include information on our event management skills.” This is the first public event the Foundation has hosted on Hopi and Polequaptewa said he feels good about it. There were several individuals, including local government employees, non-profit Directors and local business owners in attendance at the symposium who are committed to growing the economy.

Polequaptewa said the biggest success of the symposium was seeing people engaged with one another and letting their voices be heard versus being talked at. He said the next step is for the community to share what they have learned and double the size for the next event.

This was the first of four symposiums to be hosted by the Foundation. The next symposium will be on the topic of Public Health which will be held in September; most likely at the same location because Polequaptewa wants to keep the business local and feels it will benefit the people. The other symposiums will be on Education Attainment and Environmental Stewardship.

An open discussion was held on establishing a Chamber of Commerce to assist local businesses. The Chamber of Commerce will be a partnership with businesses and organizations and will be established as a 501C3. Membership requirements will be up the individual, Hopi owned business and non-profit. Explain: Does this mean a person/organization can make up their own requirements as they apply for membership? “As a small business owner, there are so many things to figure out,” said Polequaptewa. “It’s like building a house, so we will talk about how to market and incorporate your business, but more importantly with regard to the Chambers, how do we get bigger contracts?”.

Polequaptewa, is Badger Clan is from Kykotsmovi village and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Analysis and Design and Information Computer Science from the University of California Irvine as well as a Masters in Resource Management focusing on Natural and Cultural Resources Management from Central Washington University. He is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the Northern Arizona University in Earth Science and Environmental Sustainability with a focus on Environmental Engineering.

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