National Preparedness Month & Disaster Relief

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can. September is National Preparedness Month, and with recent disasters around the world, it couldn’t be a more relevant topic. FEMA originally created this observance back in 2004 to encourage Americans to prepare in advance for disasters such as floods, fires and power outages. Now we mark its 13th year of recognition and although the program is well established, many of us seem to give it a glance and then ignore its message. Hopefully, this year we can encourage you to expect the unexpected and take action.

When disaster strikes, PWNA is a first responder for the reservations. Although its services range from education to nutrition assistance and animal welfare, and disaster relief is also of critical importance to the tribes in our service area and beyond. Last year, alone, PWNA assisted nearly 57,000 people impacted by environmental emergencies such as flooding, fires and blizzards in Native communities.

In one case, PWNA helped the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe during the blizzard of 2010. This case is personally relevant to me, as the storm severely struck my hometown. Pipes froze shut, power lines collapsed and homes lost power for close to two weeks. The local store lost power, and with no way to refrigerate, lost much of its fresh food. My own family had to move between two houses during this time, one for heat, the other for water. While thousands were affected, this news did not reach the mainstream for 11 days, by which time, several homeless had already passed in the cold.

Since many reservation communities are so remote, and media coverage of disaster events tends to focus on the mainstream and often overlooks the tribal communities, these areas have a hard time getting timely and meaningful disaster relief. In working to get the word out to tribes about its disaster relief and other emergency services, PWNA utilizes community outreach as well as its website and social pages.

As a member of National VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), PWNA provides emergency relief to reservations in its 12-state service area, and evaluates out-of-service area disasters on a case by case basis. As part of its emergency preparedness effort, PWNA is continuously anticipating and preparing for emergency situations by stocking and re-stocking water, cleaning supplies, batteries, personal hygiene kits, blankets and other items frequently requested by reservation partners during environmental emergencies.

This proactive emergency preparedness enables PWNA to quickly mobilize and deliver supplies to affected areas in need. Even just this year, we were able to provide emergency relief to Cheyenne River and the Lake Traverse Reservations for winter storms, and last year to tribes in Wisconsin, Louisiana and North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew and other storms flooded homes and displaced residents.

To meet the unexpected year-round, PWNA relies on individual donors as well as bulk donations of in-kind products such as those mentioned above. You can learn more about our first responder emergency relief and other emergency services here.

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Easing the Housing Crisis on Native American Reservations

For most of us, home is where we build our memories. But for many Native families, poor living conditions often get in the way of everyday life. In fact, 40 percent of Native families live in sub-standard or overcrowded housing, such that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights notes, “the basic standard of living of Native Americans remains well below that of the rest of the nation, with crumbling structures…  and overcrowding all too common in Indian Country. Many Native American households often lack even basic provisions such as plumbing, electricity, and telephone lines.”

Compounding this is the lack of resources many Native families face. Without the local jobs and economic assets to make improvements, housing issues can continue to negatively impact the lives of families – especially for Native American Elders.

In an effort to ease the housing need, Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) provides home improvement services to Elders in select reservations communities through its Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA) program.

 SWRA provides home repairs such as replacing roofing and windows, fixing plumbing, and installing access ramps. By working with reservation-based partners to identify the Elders most in need, SWRA can provide improvements necessary to bring the Elders’ homes up to safe living standards. The recipients selected typically live in very old homes that present significant health or safety risks, such as improperly installed wood stoves, holes in floors and walls, rickety wheelchair ramps or no ramps at all, black mold, dirt floors or faulty electrical wiring.

For Elizabeth S, a lifelong resident of Cove, Arizona, Our SWRA program replaced her old stove with a new one. Another Cove Elder, Flora L., will have her roof replaced soon through the SWRA program. “My husband, David, built our home in the early 1970’s so that I could be close to my aging parents. If David were still alive, he’d be repairing the roof himself! Thank you, A’he’hee,” she said to PWNA, SWRA and the Cove Chapter.

The repairs and improvements being provided are more than improvements to the structure of homes; they are helping provide Native American Elders and their families a solid foundation on which to build their future. Find out how you can help PWNA and SWRA ensure that more Southwest Native American Elders have safe, livable housing here.

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Walmart Foundation Grant

We are excited to announce that Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) has received a $329,480 grant from the Walmart Foundation to help fund programs that provide essential, high quality food and nutrition services to Native Americans in tribal communities. This funding will support PWNA’s ongoing effort to improve health through better nutrition and education.

PWNA first received a grant of $258,000 from the Walmart Foundation in 2016, and was able to fund multiple initiatives aimed at food distribution, nutritional education, community garden projects and a Southwest mobile training unit. In fact, due to this aid and the dedication of our reservation partners, in less than a year PWNA provided food and nutrition assistance, including:

  • 133,668 pounds of fresh produce delivered by PWNA to food pantry partners and benefiting nearly 20,000 community members
  • 63,599 pounds of emergency food and bottled water
  • 62,103 pounds of shelf staple snacks and meals
  • Nearly 5,000 backpacks filled with nutritional snacks and juices for youth
  • 10 community and youth gardens expanded in the Southwest, including $50,000 in re-grants and garden supplies
  • Mobile unit education and support services such as canning/food preservation training sessions and cooking demonstrations reaching Native communities in 8 states

These efforts made a significant impact on Indian Country, exceeding even our own expectations. As an example, our canning training sessions led many from Horse Creek on the Pine Ridge Reservation to pair with their community garden leaders to provide canned goods to the local homeless shelter. As enthusiasm for this training spread through the local community, the tribe requested that PWNA provide additional opportunities for nutrition education, which was met through fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie demonstrations. We were also able to conduct similar demonstrations to reach another 108 individuals in the Southwest on the Gila River, Maricopa, Salt River, and Pascua Yaqui Reservations.

We hope to continue this record of success with the 2017 grant, supporting our reservation partners through nutritional education initiatives. Today, food insecurity continues to be an obstacle to lasting health and self-sustainment for many tribal communities. This is especially detrimental to younger generations, as diabetes among American Indian teens aged 15-19 has risen 68 percent between 1994- 2004. This issue not only affects the community members of today, but creates difficulties for the generations of tomorrow.

The funds from the 2017 grant will be used to support PWNA’s gardening programs, helping community members get their start by providing garden materials and training in how to best care for crops as well as supplying garden tools, seeds, and fencing for participants. We will also expand community and youth gardens in the Northern Plains and the Southwest. Our mobile nutrition education efforts will continue with canning instruction, healthy food preparation/cooking training, and supplying tools such as knives, blenders, and food processors.

The support of the Walmart Foundation ensures that PWNA will continue to have an impact in remote communities around the country, as we work with reservation partners toward improved nutrition and self-determination for Native peoples.

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Recently in Native News

As we continue our mission to keep you abreast of the top stories concerning Native life from across the country, Partnership With Native Americans has compiled our favorite stories from the month of August for your enjoyment. Stay up to date with more articles by following us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Why it’s taboo in Navajo culture to view the solar eclipse via 12 News Arizona

  • According to traditional beliefs, viewing the eclipse could result in health and spiritual problems. Navajo beliefs warn against eating, sleeping or being out in the sun while a solar eclipse is happening. “You’re not supposed to be out in the sun because nature does change, the atmosphere, the lighting, everything changes,” said Carlos Begay, a Navajo culture and language teacher at Page High School. “It’s a time that the sun or the moon is changing itself. When it’s changing, it’s a time that you’re supposed to be reverent.”

Navajo Code Talker’s life told in film via The Durango Herald

  • “Sam Sandoval, the last surviving Navajo Code Talker from Shiprock, has much to say about his life, his tribe and justice. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sandoval said, he enlisted to fight for two nations: the Navajo Nation and the United States. Sandoval, 93, visited Cortez on Monday for a screening of a film about his life, “Naz Bah Ei Bijei: Heart of a Warrior.”

‘Rumble’ Celebrates Rock ‘N’ Roll’s Native American Roots” via NPR

  • “In 1958, the guitar riff known as “Rumble” shocked audiences… and its influence is still heard today. Behind that song was a Native American musician named Link Wray, who went on to inspire legions of rock ‘n’ roll greats. He’s featured in a new documentary called Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World, which aims to finally give Native American musicians their due.”

Carson Sees ‘Moral Duty’ To Give Native Americans A Chance At Prosperity via Daily Inter Lake

  • “Ben Carson, secretary of housing in the Trump administration, visited Polson on Monday afternoon and said there is a “moral duty” to ensure Native Americans have the same opportunity to prosperity as others. At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, our mission is to ensure that all Americans have access to safe and affordable housing,… there is also “special responsibility” to Native Americans “who govern themselves on their tribal lands” and preserve their heritage and culture.”

VMFA exhibit opens the dialogue of Native American art in the past and present via Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “Art can be one of the greatest learning tools, and to explore the rich history of Native Americans, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will open the exhibit “Hear My Voice: Native American Art of the Past and Present”… at the Evans Court Gallery… and will feature 56 works from 35 Native American tribes, which explore the way Native American art shares history and tradition while also being diverse in style, medium and subject. The exhibit includes pieces from 400 A.D. to modern day.”
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Sharing the Love for Reservation Animals in Need

While dogs are often thought of as “man’s best friend,” within Native American cultures, they have a history of being so much more. Over the years their responsibilities have included hunting, guarding and even pulling sleds, and have long been considered essential members of their communities. Today that close relationship with animals continues, but unfortunately some tribes face significant overpopulation of animals and the challenges that brings.

The overpopulation of animals is a growing concern, specifically when it comes to dogs and cats. The Navajo Nation alone has thousands of stray dogs and cats on their land. These homeless animals are often in poor health, with many needing veterinary attention, some even dealing with broken bones or untreated infections.

Many of these animals may have been born as strays on the reservation. Other times, animals are left on the side of the road in Native communities by individuals living off-reservation, a practice commonly referred to as “animal dumping.” This creates health and safety issues for the tribal communities involved, and hardships for the animal.

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) through its Reservation Animal Rescue (RAR) program supports ongoing animal welfare efforts with a commitment to compassionate, humane treatment, which includes helping RAR partners that find these animals forever homes and ensure the health and safety of the community. Through our RAR program, we deliver essential supplies such as food, collars, leashes and more, support spay and neutering services and other medical care, and support education on how to properly care for animals. In 2016, PWNA supplied veterinary programs and animal care groups on remote reservations with more than 23,000 pounds of pet food and other needed supplies to help meet this growing concern.

During a mobile spay and neuter clinic supported by RAR in collaboration with Midwestern University’s Animal Health Institute, we met Rhianna, a young community member and volunteer from the San Carlos Reservation. She helped coordinate outreach so that members of her community knew to bring their pets to the mobile clinic for medical attention. She said, “Because we’re struggling monetarily, there is no way we can get our dogs fixed. They come out here and fix our dogs … they’re really a blessing to some families that love their pets but have no money to take them to a vet.”

You can join PWNA and RAR efforts to improve animal care and quality of life, and help to ensure all animals on reservations have their health, and a place to call home. Find out more at www.nativepartnership.org/animalwelfare1.

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PWNA Annual Report Summary

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is committed to supporting a brighter future for Native Americans living on remote and often isolated reservations. By collaborating with our partners in more than 300 tribal communities, we work to realize our vision of strong, self-sufficient Native American communities. It’s our belief that the people who live and work in the areas PWNA serves have the solutions to the problems that challenge their quality of life, and PWNA’s role is to provide resources and support to these community-driven efforts toward lasting change.

Today, our reservation-based program partners count on PWNA as a consistent, reliable resource. Our services are available year-round to address critical needs in the areas of education, health, food and water, emergency relief, holiday support and animal welfare on 60 reservations. PWNA is committed to providing high-quality, useful products, services and grants that reservation partners specifically request to enhance their programs, meet pressing needs and address sustainable solutions in their communities.

A sample of PWNA’s support, which aims at both immediate needs and long-term solutions, includes:

  • Food & Water: In 2016, PWNA addressed food insecurity by providing over a ton and a half of food to help stock Polson Loaves and Fish Pantry in Montana, in addition to other food pantries, which helped contribute to food security for Native communities. We also helped to further food sovereignty by providing cooking demonstrations and healthy nutrition education with our reservation partners. One of our innovative approaches to food and nutrition in 2016 was the use of mobile units for training and nutrition (MUTNs), enabling collaboration between Native chefs and local cooks.
  •  Education Services: Furthering PWNA’s commitment to supporting self-determination and quality of life, our initiatives in education included investing in literacy programs that motivate reading and promote parent-child reading time. In 2016, PWNA provided enough literacy incentives and supplies for 38 partners on 14 reservations and furnished school supplies to 75 partner schools on 28 reservations. For older students, we supported the pursuit of higher education by awarding scholarships and grant funds, and supplying laptops to deserving students. In support of lifelong learning, PWNA expanded its 4 Directions Development Program, investing in personal and professional development training and, since inception, equipping 63 emerging leaders to make even greater contributions to their tribal communities.
  • Emergency Services: PWNA supported disaster relief and disaster preparedness among our tribal communities in numerous ways in 2016. In one case, this included providing $1.3 million in supplies to the residents of the United Houma Nation in the wake of severe storms in Louisiana in August, 2016, and through collaborations with community partners and organizations like the American Red Cross, supporting disaster preparedness planning, providing emergency kits, and ensuring emergency medical training.
  • Health + Holiday Support: PWNA supported reservation programs aimed specifically at preventative care, home health visits and health education initiatives for tribal members, as part of its commitment to reducing health disparities and lowering disease rates within Native communities. Beyond health, in 2016 PWNA helped our program partners enrich quality of life among tribal members by embracing the holiday season, delivering to nearly 300 program partners the requested holiday stockings for children and Elders.
  • Animal Welfare: In 2016, PWNA supported reservation programs that spay, neuter and vaccinate animals, and educate communities on proper animal care. We also supported community health through a $10,000 grant to Midwestern University’s Animal Health Institute in Glendale, AZ, to advance the critical need for reservation-based spay and neuter programs and veterinary services through Midwestern’s mobile animal clinic.

This is just a snapshot of all the life-enhancing initiatives PWNA supported in 2016. None of this could have been possible without our individual contributors, in-kind donors, and community investors, or without our tribal partners who collaborated with PWNA throughout the year. Together, we addressed critical supply needs in underserved tribal communities and enhanced community-led initiatives focused on nutrition and health, youth development and emergency preparedness. We want to thank all of you for your generosity and dedication to PWNA’s mission and to those who benefit from our services. To read more about PWNA’s impact in 2016, read the full report here. And check out the back page to learn about our cover art.

 

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Evaluating Charities in the Age of Online Ratings

I serve as liaison to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, nonprofit information portals like GuideStar, charity evaluation groups, and the Combined Federal Campaign, all on behalf of Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA). Serving for more than a decade in these roles, one thing has become very clear: many donors do not realize there is no shortcut for making wise giving choices.

Certainly, there are numerous online rating systems that donors can turn to for quick information on nonprofits. But, here’s the problem: many donors are unaware that there is no one standard for charity ratings.

Virtually every charity evaluation group uses a different set of criteria for evaluating and rating charities. And sometimes, charity evaluation groups even adjust the information reported on a charity’s form 990, which is backed by independently audited financials. So which one evaluator can donors safely rely upon for making giving decisions?

What’s more, some charity evaluation groups steer donors toward financial information as the sole basis for deciding which charities to support. PWNA applauds GuideStar, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator for rightfully cautioning donors that “the percent of charity expenses that go to administration and fundraising costs – commonly referred to as “overhead” – is a poor measure of a charity’s performance,” and instead steering donors to weigh the whole picture when decision making. You can learn more about this in their joint Overhead Myth letter issued in 2013.

Charity Navigator informs donors that “it is critical to know whether charities are meeting their mission by getting results… To determine if a charity is getting good results, you can begin by learning about a charity’s programs, accomplishments, goals and challenges. You can do this by reviewing its website and/or talking with their staff.”

Our organization assists donors by voluntarily adhering to the BBB’s 20 Standards of Charity Accountability and referring them to PWNA’s BBB-accreditation report. On the PWNA website, we publish annual reports and a five-year baseline of outcomes compiled through our annual customer survey to more than 1,000 reservation partners. As a Platinum Exchange Member, we also publish a wealth of vetted information about PWNA on GuideStar.

I find GuideStar particularly helpful to donors because it serves as a neutral platform of nonprofit information focusing on every aspect of a charity’s operations, from financial and governance to programs and impact. Because GuideStar houses nonprofits’ information in one place, in a neutral way, they empower donors to research and draw their own conclusions about charities. Even in this age of online charity ratings, the need to make wise giving decisions remains the same.

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Can I Visit the Reservations

Flathead Range

Each summer, PWNA receives calls from people wondering whether they can visit a reservation, or if they need permission, or the best time to visit. Many Native American reservations and communities welcome visits and generously share education about their culture and history and area.

At the same time, most Americans have never visited a reservation, and all American Indian reservations, villages, and pueblos operate under their own government and may have different rules for visitors.

So, summer is a good time to re-run our tips on visiting the reservations and share some general etiquette and protocol, the most basic of them being to exercise common courtesy.

 

Tips for Visiting the Reservations:

  • All communities contain a diversity of tribal members who practice varying degrees of tradition. Also, while some reservations may have characteristics similar to another, each is home to tribes that have distinct cultures and histories. Therefore, what is acceptable in one community or at one event may not be appropriate at another.
  • Show respect to the people and the rules. Treat the residents with courtesy and observe the signs that have been put in place to preserve the beauty and uniqueness of the land and people. Pay close attention to posted traffic and road signs and do not litter.
  • Be aware of which places are public and which are private or restricted. If you are unsure, do not enter.
  • Do not pick up artifacts or ruins such as pieces of pottery.  This would be inappropriate and Native American remains and artifacts are protected by tribal law and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
  • If you are fortunate enough to be in attendance at a dance or ceremonial event, dress in a modest, kempt, and appropriate manner. Avoid excessive talking, questioning, and applause. Be a respectful observer.  Check in advance whether photography is allowed. If not, by all means respect that rule.
  • Be a polite and attentive listener.
  • If food or a meal is offered to you, be polite and accept it.
  • Alcohol is not permitted on many reservations.
  • Do some research before your trip. Knowing more about the culture, history, and traditions of the people who live on the reservation you plan to visit will enhance your experience and help you avoid mistakes in etiquette. Many tribes have information for visitors on their websites, including a tourism page, a calendar of events that are open to the public, and rules of etiquette or protocol.
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Recently in Native News

Partnership With Native Americans has compiled our favorite stories on Native life from across the country during the month of July. Stay up to date with more articles by following us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Native American artists call for an end to counterfeits via PBS News

  • “Native American artists are requesting the federal government strengthen a 1990 law that prohibits the sale of counterfeit tribal art, in an attempt to stop the flood of fakes that jeopardize their livelihood. In a hearing on Friday, New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich heard from seven panelists, a mix of government officials and Native artists, who spoke of a need for the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to be revisited.”

Exhibit Explores Ways Native Americans Approach Health via NPR

  • “The Sequoyah National Research Center, a Native American archive and gallery on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is unveiling a new exhibit Tuesday. Entitled “Native Voices,” it examines the diverse and holistic ways many Native Americans approach illness and health.”

Native Americans Challenge Government Over Fate Of Yellowstone Grizzly Bears via Huffington Post

  • “Native American tribes and activists have joined forces in a complaint against the U.S. government’s decision to take grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park off the endangered species list. In a lawsuit filed in Montana late June, a collection of more than 16 tribes, clans and leaders asked a federal judge to block a new policy that would allow trophy hunters to kill the bears. The suit alleges that lifting endangered species protections from these animals would violate Native American religious beliefs.”

Will global warming change Native American religious practices? via The Conversation

  • “As a scholar of Native American religions and the environment, I understand how indigenous people’s religions and sacred places are closely tied to their landscape. For the past 100 years, indigenous peoples have been forced to adapt to changes in their environments and modify their religious rituals in the United States. The U.S. government made certain Native American religious practices illegal in the 19th and early 20th century. Although these policies have since been rescinded, they led to changes in many indigenous practices. Global warming, however, is different. The question is whether indigenous people will be able to adapt their beliefs all over again due to the impact of global warming on the natural world.”

Native broadcast workshop has 21 students from four tribes via Navajo-Hopi Observer

  • “Twenty-one Native American high school students from 10 high schools and four tribes received training in mass media while attending the 6th annual Andy Harvey Native American Broadcast workshop June 18-24 in Flagstaff. The project concluded with a screening of the students’ video projects. Toni DeAztlan Smith, assistant professor in the School of Communication at Northern Arizona University (NAU), said in a news release that participants stayed on the NAU campus while working at the NAU School of Communications Student Media Center newsroom alongside of NAU students and broadcast journalism professionals. The high school students produced multimedia audio stories about Flagstaff businesses using astrophotography.”
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Emerging Leaders Making a Difference Today

On July 7, PWNA held a celebration event to honor 13 graduates of our 4 Directions Development Program (4D). The graduates celebrated the completion of a 6-month long leadership development process, marked by graduates sharing how the program had already impacted their personal and professional lives. All the graduates spoke about many of the challenges they face working in the communities they serve, and in the face of this adversity, these emerging leaders seek to improve the quality of life and share a common belief that giving up is not an option.

4D recruits and trains “emerging leaders” working and living on tribal reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest regions of the United States. We consider an emerging leader as someone who is already recognized as a local leader, someone others can go to for support, a trusted member of the community. An emerging leader is also someone who is willing to expand their knowledge base and learn new skills that will impact their personal and professional contributions to the lives of those around them.

Miranda Lente, Isleta and Acoma ancestry, joined the 4D cohort so that she could enhance her skills and ability to impact the lives of others. “The 4D training program description was different and interesting. I knew it would benefit my current or future career path,” Miranda noted.

Emerging leaders like Miranda seem to have a constitution for being of service to others. This quality may be steeped in a Native perspective of what a true leader is – one that has a balanced focus on serving others rather than solely for personal gain. For Miranda, the goal of personal and professional success is not only for her but the benefit of others. She credits her mother Karen for being a role model and mentor in helping her to develop this quality.

As a loan officer for Tiwa Lending Services, Isleta Pueblo, Miranda is helping members in her community learn about finances, credit, personal loans, and home purchase. The organization’s website explains that the purpose of Tiwa Lending Services is “to serve as a leader for Economic and Social development of financial excellence for Tribal Communities at large” and to provide “services to the people of Isleta Pueblo and Surrounding Communities seeking financial assistance through loans, financial education and home ownership by developing innovative products and services.” This seems to be a perfect job for Miranda and you can hear the excitement and good energy when she talks about her work. In 4D, Miranda achieved both her personal goal of improving her health and professional goal of Improving her networking skills.

PWNA launched the 4D capacity building service to provide ongoing support to emerging tribal leaders. Components include four two-day sessions focused on skills assessment, leadership training, professional and personal goal setting and individualized mentoring for 10-15 participants over a six-month period. Cohorts are hosted regionally to support participation from all tribes in our 12-state service area. To date, 135 Native leaders from 35 tribes in 6 states have graduated from 4D.

The 4 Directions Development Program is a good example of how Partnership With Native Americans is fulfilling its mission to serve immediate needs and support long-term solutions. 4D emerging leaders like Miranda are bound to have lasting impacts in the communities they serve and PWNA is honored to be of service to them.

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