Native American Community Clinic CEO
Interviewed by Erika Schwichtenberg
Describe your role with Native American Community Clinic. Why are you passionate about NACC’s work?
I am the Chief Executive Officer for NACC, and have held the position since December 2016. In my role, I have the primary responsibility for working closely with my Board of Directors and my leadership team to oversee daily operations, and to set the strategic course for meeting the organization’s mission and vision – which is “to provide healing for the mind, body, and spirit of Native American families in the metropolitan area, and to reduce the health disparities of the Native American community overall.” No small feat. But we are moving closer to meeting this goal every day, by developing new partnerships, innovating in the midst of a global pandemic, and being very intentional about how we show up in our work as good relatives to all. I am blessed and privileged to be the servant/leader of such an amazing group of dedicated and fine human beings.
How long have you worked with Fox Advancement, and in what capacity? What do you appreciate about your partnership with Fox Advancement?
NACC has been working with Fox since September 2019. We initially engaged the Fox Advancement team to help us in developing a capital campaign and assist us in meeting our goal for acquiring our building and expanding our operational capacity to meet our mission and vision over the next several years. Of course, in March we had the global COVID19 pandemic hit, and we had to pivot and focus on the critical work of deploying emergency resources to respond to our community needs – which morphed and amplified tenfold in the wake of the George Floyd murder and the civil unrest in late May and early June. What I appreciate about our partnership with Fox Advancement is their incredible “can-do” attitude, and their flexibility and willingness to pivot and revise our strategy to not only meet the needs of NACC in the moment, but also keep an eye on the longer-term goals. Erika, Kevin, and the rest of our Fox family have been so generous with their time, their support, and their care. At the outset, I didn’t expect to have such a deeply soulful relationship with a “vendor.” It has been refreshing and reassuring to work with such a wonderful group of people! They are a group with kind hearts and deep commitment to our community.
What do you enjoy most about fundraising? What is an example of a fundraising challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve been involved with other campaigns for organizations for whom I was a board member, and while that gave me some understanding of the work, it has been really a different experience going through the process in my current role. I enjoy both the excitement and the challenge of thinking through strategies around development and how those efforts directly and indirectly impact our work – not just in the clinic, but also with the partners we work with and within our community. The most challenging part of fundraising to date has been the rapidly shifting landscape that happened in the wake of the global pandemic and the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd. In the weeks that followed, it often felt like navigating a desert of quicksand. The Fox team really helped to quell our anxiety, providing assurance and guidance on developing a strategy that resonated with the organization’s mission and our community’s needs. Together we cultivated a path that is both invigorating and feels doable.
What is a particularly memorable interaction you’ve had with a donor, board member, or volunteer?
A noteworthy interaction was when one of our campaign committee members – a woman from the community – reflected back to us, during one of our meetings, that she saw NACC as being a “home” for our patients, and a place where our culture and our values are at the center of our work, and everything else emanated from there. When I heard her frame our work in this way, it made my heart happy and I felt proud of the accomplishments of my team. It felt good to be acknowledged for our unique footprint that we have in our community. It felt good to be “seen.”
On a personal note: Describe your perfect day from beginning to end!
My perfect day would be one in which I wake up an hour or so before my twin sons, and I have some time to reflect on my day and organize my thoughts. This starts for me with a hot cup of fragrant and delicious French Roast. (Ojibwe people refer to coffee as Makade Mashkiki Waboo, or “Black Medicine Water” – which for me is both literal and figurative!) I smudge with sage and cedar and say a prayer, and ask Creator to guide my words and actions. In the summer months, I listen to the birds outside my patio; in the winter months, I look outside at the clouds and the winter snow and find that peaceful and reassuring. My day is spent with a great group of people, all united in our efforts to bring culturally centered health services to our community. I end my day with some time to reflect on what was accomplished and a moment of gratitude for the gift of life and another day where I am given the opportunity to be a good relative – to my children, my family, my coworkers and colleagues and to the community.