Stritch to conduct panel discussion with American Indian community

July 10, 2012

The Cardinal Stritch University Leadership Center will present an afternoon panel discussion with leaders in the American Indian community, who will share their perspectives on leadership and family as part of a pilot for the center’s soon-to-be-unveiled American Indian Leadership Program.

“Living Leadership: American Indian Family Journeys” will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11 in the Sister Camille Kliebhan Conference Center at Stritch. This multi-tribal, inter-generational panel discussion will be co-moderated by Dr. Jeanette Mitchell, founder of the Stritch Leadership Center and director of leadership for professionals of color, and Mark Denning, consultant to the project and a member of Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.

The panel will include:
• Gus Frank, Potawatomi tribal chairman, and his nephew, Mike Goodrich, general manager of Potawatomi Bingo Casino
• Ernest L. Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, and his wife, Cheryl Stevens, director of the grants department at the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
• Nate Nez, tribal and regional coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, and his 18-year old son, Travis Nez, who was recently elected to the Price County Board of Supervisors

“Because American Indian culture is so communal, the role of family – and that includes extended family – is a critical influence on values and worldview,” said Kathleen Hill, program coordinator for the American Indian Leadership Program. “Our panelists have become successful leaders because of the support and role modeling of their own families who also served in leadership roles.”

Last year, the Leadership Center began collaboration with the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation to develop a program for American Indian leaders. The center received a grant of $40,000 from the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation to initiate planning for the American Indian Leadership Program, and the center has recruited American Indians from across the state to be involved.

“It’s unique and exciting that there’s an academic institution looking at American Indian leadership,” said Denning. “There’s a spiritual component to this process and that makes this a natural partnership. Stritch’s spiritual identity is unique and is consistent with American Indian philosophy and leadership.”

The goal of the July 11 event is to facilitate additional introductions between Stritch and the American Indian community as well as to collect feedback on American Indian experiences in leadership within their respective communities to better determine what type of leadership programming is needed.
This information, along with other data collected over the last year, will be compared with existing research and theory about leadership formation among American Indians and will inform the development of the program curriculum. The resulting program, which will be fully unveiled later this year, will be used to strengthen the leadership of American Indian professionals and communities in Wisconsin.

“The Leadership Center has demonstrated expertise in gaining insightful understanding of communities of color,” said Mitchell. “This panel conversation is a significant step forward in engaging the American Indian community to have them tell us what the program should look like. When we design programs such as this, we partner with the community just as much as we partner with organizations.”

The Leadership Center has a 10-year history of working collaboratively to build some of the most innovative, transformative and effective leadership training programs for people of color in the region. In 2004, the Center partnered with the Roberto Hernandez Center at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee to launch the Latino Nonprofit Leadership Program, which offers training seminars and retreat sessions to help nonprofit leaders deepen and strengthen their contributions to Latino nonprofits and the Latino community. In 2008, Stritch launched the highly successful African-American Leadership Program, a nine-month experience designed to unleash the talent of African-American professionals for personal, organizational, and regional gain.

“Living Leadership: American Indian Family Journeys” is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Individuals should RSVP by phone at (414) 410-4576 or by email to For more information, please visit


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