UNITY Adds Staff to Support National Leadership Initiative
The following story is from an April 9, 2014 UNITY news release.
Mesa, Arizona—UNITY, Inc. has named three individuals with extensive experience in Indian country to spearhead a national leadership initiative in partnership with the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). UNITY, an acronym for United National Indian Tribal Youth, is a national organization that promotes personal development, citizenship, and leadership among American Indian and Alaska Native youth between the ages of 14 – 24. With one of the largest and oldest American Indian youth leadership networks in North America, UNITY has 140 affiliated youth councils in 35 states. Youth councils are sponsored by tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges and other community organizations.
Wendy Weston, Navajo, has been hired as the Project Manager for the National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative also known as “Today’s Native Leaders.” The Initiative is designed to offer regional and national trainings and learning opportunities for American Indian youth to increase positive outcomes in their school, community and family environments. Lynnann Yazzie, Navajo, will serve as Project Coordinator and Tami Patterson as the project’s Bookkeeper.
Weston was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in the community of T’iisNazbas. She is born to the Bilagaana people and born for Kinlichinii people. Prior to joining UNITY, Wendy worked as the Director of American Indian Relations at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. She has experience in all facets of museum work and served as an advisor for a UNITY chapter comprised of Native youth who were employed at the museum during her time there. Weston enjoys being around family, attending art and cultural events and high school/college reservation basketball games. “I am proud to be working for UNITY and I have great expectations for and faith in Native youth and all they can accomplish!” said Weston. She is a graduate of Arizona State University.
Yazzie is from Chinle, Arizona and is To’aheedliinii (Water Flows Together Clan), Ma’ii deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass Clan), Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle Clan), and Kiyaa’aanii (Towering House Clan). She received a Bachelors Degree with an emphasis in Mathematics and a Masters Degree in Secondary Education from Arizona State University. Lynnann served as a teacher at Maricopa and Salt River High Schools for the past five years. She also coached volleyball and softball, and served as an advisor for Student Council. Her journey with UNITY began more than 20 years ago as a youth participant. “I am ecstatic about working for a wonderful organization and continuing to work with Native youth across America,” said Yazzie.
Patterson grew up in Parker Arizona, while her father worked for the Colorado River Indian Tribes. She is a proud mother of two children who are enrolled members of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She worked as a Johnson O’Malley Tutor and Youth Services coordinator in St. Ignace Michigan and served as the lead advisor to the Waaniniigaanzijig Tribal Youth Council (WTYC), which introduced her to UNITY. Patterson’s consulting business called, Worthwhile Effects, involved working on various UNITY projects, two funded by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grants. “I respect UNITY’s 38 year history and I give tribute to JR Cook and George Thomas for the valuable experience I attained while working for UNITY. I also look forward to UNITY’s promising future with Mary Kim Titla’s compassion and direction,” said Patterson.
“We are extremely happy to welcome the addition of three highly talented and passionate professionals to our UNITY team. Though they are not new to the UNITY family, as each has been involved with our programs in some respect over the years, their experience and commitment to Native youth is impressive. Look for great things to continue to happen for UNITY!” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY’s Executive Director.
An informational session about the OJJDP Today’s Native Leaders Initiative will be held at the 2014 National UNITY Conference in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, June 28. The conference runs from June 28 through July 3.