“We have to show up and we have to apply for things outside [Indian Country]. There is no one better than us to than to represent at the national level.” -Chelsea Wilson
Chelsea Wilson on Mentors and Pushy Friends
Chelsea Wilson (Cherokee Nation) works at All Native Group, a division of Ho-Chunk Inc. She is active in the DC chapter of the New Leaders Council a member of the executive committee and is a previous fellow with the organization. If a full-time job and a one organization was not enough, Chelsea Wilson also chairs the Frontrunners Committee of the organization She Should Run.
Chelsea Wilson, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation
Chelsea Wilson describes herself as a giver, and if you cannot tell, she puts that into practice through the work she does personally and professionally. That character trait pays dividends back to Chelsea through the mentorships she’s developed over the years. And each mentorship helped Chelsea develop and find new ways to give back. It’s a classic story about how hard work, mentorship, and networks come together to provide opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
Chelsea worked for the Cherokee Nation where her boss mentored her and gave her projects to stretch her development. Eventually that led her to DC. I knew Chelsea’s boss at Cherokee Nation and she mentioned to me Chelsea’s interest in moving to DC. When I ran into her at a reception, that a “pushy friend” forced her to attend, I mentioned that I was looking to hire someone for my team.
After living in DC, Chelsea found her path through NLC and She Should Run. It’s refreshing to have someone that can articulate that their interest to serve in public office comes from a genuine place of giving. Many people say it, and for many people it’s true. But with Chelsea, you can feel her desire to serve.
In this conversation we discuss finding finding mentors the right way, growing professionally, and being willing to fail by trying. Chelsea Wilson combined each of these into her current work and others are starting to take notice.
Paulette Jordan is Couer d’ Alene. She is currently a member of the Idaho State legislature, and she also sits on the board of the National Indian Gaming Association. Paulette also was previously a member of her (and my) tribal council.
Paulette Jordan’s family instilled leadership from an early age. But leadership for power was not the goal. Service was. Paulette demonstrates her commitment to service through the various positions she has held over the years.
Paulette was both a self-described book worm and athlete growing up. She attended a college prep high school and then attended the University of Washington. There she used sports to connect with other students as she adjusted to life in the city after growing up on the reservation.
After school, Paulette returned home and soon started to hear requests for her to serve and pursue elected positions in the community. She was elected to tribal council and in 2012 decided to run for the state legislature. Paulette was elected in 2014.
Her presence in the legislature made an immediate impact in the state. She invited the tribes to attend an annual event at the capital. It was the first time that ever occurred. She hopes her role can strengthen relationships between the state and tribes. I really believe the trend of more Natives pursuing state office is one for the future. Relationships with states are tenuous. But more tribal people in elected office at the state level can help forge stronger working relationships.
Paulette Jordan, like many NextGen Natives, discussed the role mentors have played in her life. Whether it is tribal elders and family members (Felix Aripa, Dave Matheson), previous member of the state legislature and fellow tribal member Jeanne Givens, or national leaders like Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Paulette is learning from the previous generation to further her service.