Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in, and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.
I have been blessed to have mentors at every turn of my personal and professional journey. Too many to list yet a couple that have been by my side and always in my mind for many years. As a teen, the high school librarian was my guiding light in terms of a safe place to learn, ask questions, and seek solace before knowing what “gay” was and that being gay was OK. She helped shaped my world view of inclusion and how to face the challenge of intolerance for my years leading up today—40 years later. Another mentor was the president of the Midwest university where I graduated as a first-generation college student. He and his wife encouraged me to do things and go places I never would have experienced, leading to an international internship in the Netherlands that shaped my career focus on organizational development in a global context that serves me working with sovereign indigenous nations today. “Be a mentor. Have a mentor.”
How and why did you end up working as the chief organizational development officer for the Kalispel Tribe of Indians? What led to this job?
I have served Indian Country in the roles of human resources director, T&D director, facilitator, and consultant for more than 25 years. This position is a capstone as my career culminates as mentor, teacher, and partner to many across this tribal government and its enterprises. I was asked to join the nation to create a position and team that would best serve the more than 2,100-person team and tribal members in career advancement, enhanced engagement, and succession planning.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?
I have ten years in my career plan before retiring and have much to do to share what I can through knowledge transfer and succession planning.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?
Having past students, learners, and those mentored return words of their accomplishments as a result of our work in talent acquisition and L&D.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Personally, having nurtured a wonderful relationship with my husband of 25 years, Darin, and raising our son, Sean. Professionally, so many blessings yet share that building a reputation of kindness and sharing across Indian Country is what I am most humbled and proud.
What would you do differently in your career if you had a chance?
I would have completed the PhD I started years ago. I hope to go back into the academic environment and teach at the time of retirement, thus I shall use years of experience over the education to serve students as they explore a career in our field. A word to the young and young at heart: Follow your career goals so there are no regrets at the end of your career season.