Graduates Reflect on 4D Strong Native Women Program

Leadership is an integral part of strong, self-sufficient Native American communities. It takes a committed, compassionate and connected leader to help change a community for the better, and that’s exactly what our inaugural 4D Strong Native Women cohort graduates are gearing up to do.

At Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA), our 4 Directions Development Program (4D) helps develop grassroots leaders in the tribal communities we serve. These emerging leaders are offered a unique opportunity to take part in a six-month training program that includes personal and professional development, setting of self-identified goals, and working work with an advisor-mentor, PWNA staff and other resources to reach those goals.

Last October, PWNA launched its first 4D Strong Native Women program, a special all-women cohort supported by PepsiCo Foundation that employs our 4D model but with a focus on roles and issues specific to Native American women leaders. These women represent a diverse cross-section of career, education, families and communities, including Mescalero Apache, Tonto Apache and Navajo nations, and Zuni, San Juan, San Ildefonso and Kewa (Santo Domingo) pueblos.

Participants Delana, an administrative service manager for the Zuni Senior Center, and Rosemary Reano, an employment and training center coordinator for the Santo Domingo Employment & Training Office, reflected on their experiences and shared how the 4D Strong Native Women cohort immediately impacted them and their communities. They also commented on the potential long-term impacts of participating in the program.

The first session explored “lateral violence” and this had an immediate impact on Delana, who said the training was a “real eye opener,” especially as she came to terms with acknowledging that the behavior was happening right in front of her. Now she can recognize lateral violence (i.e., overt or covert acts of verbal or nonverbal behavior directed toward others) in the workplace.

She also said the session on time management would have profound impact. “Time for myself and to think about myself – it never phased me how much we neglect ourselves worrying and doing things for work or for our children,” said Delana. “One change I have managed is to know when to go home and when to say no to have time for myself.”

Rosemary has enjoyed the new resources she was introduced to through the 4D program, so much so that she purchased her own set of books used during the training. “I look forward to using these books as tools to develop or motivate my participants in the Santo Domingo Employment & Training Program (assisting youth and adults),” said Rosemary.

The sessions on goal-setting and financial literacy significantly impacted Rosemary too, both personally and professionally. She shared how 4D is different than the college courses she has taken in the past, in that 4D is designed to incorporate culturally- and community-based tools. “If 4D were able to establish their own university, I would enroll!” Rosemary said. “The opportunities to be immersed in training like this are far and few. For anyone who has a desire to give back to their community, I would encourage them to be a part of PWNA’s 4D program.”

The inaugural 4D Strong Native Women cohort concludes this spring with eleven graduates.

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