What's New In The Community: January 2015
Tuesday, January 13 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Board of Directors of the Notah Begay III Foundation announced on Jan. 6, it selected Justin Kii Huenemann to be the Foundation’s next Executive Director. Huenemann, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, brings 20 years of experience providing executive leadership in the nonprofit, government and higher education sectors.

His professional career has focused on community economic development in low-income communities, Native American communities and communities of color. He has spent his career working to advance American Indian self-determination, believing strongly in the strength, knowledge and resiliency of Indigenous people.Mr. Huenemann replaces Crystal Echo Hawk, who stepped down on Dec. 31 after heading the NB3 Foundation for nearly six years.

“It is a privilege to welcome Justin Huenemann to the NB3 Foundation team,” Notah Begay III, Foundation Founder, said. “Justin brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will truly make an impact on the communities we serve. I look forward to working closely with Justin to strengthen and improve the wonderful platform established by his predecessor. It is our hope that Mr. Huenemann’s leadership can enhance the quality and effectiveness of the NB3 Foundation, staff and programs.”

“It is with great enthusiasm and humility that I accept the Executive Director position of the Notah Begay III Foundation,” Huenemann said. “There is no doubt in my mind that sound health and wellness are essential to any thriving future we desire for our tribal nations and the generations to come. To realize this future, we must address together the epidemics of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes that plague our Native youth. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Native youth, tribal leaders, and our allies in this fight to eliminate this reality.”

Prior to joining the NB3 Foundation, Huenemann served as a Senior Program Officer for the Northwest Area Foundation. With a mission to reduce poverty and build sustainable prosperity, Huenemann supported champions of change who were building assets, wealth and opportunity in rural, urban and Native American communities across eight states and 75 tribal nations. He also served as the founding President and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), an award-winning community development organization located in Minneapolis, MN. Here he led numerous community development projects, including establishing the American Indian Cultural Corridor.

Huenemann currently serves on the boards of Woodlands National Bank, Indian Health Board and the Tiwahe Foundation. Over the years he has received several notable awards, including the “Mayor’s Healthy City Award” from the City of Minneapolis and Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation and the Bear Award from the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Huenemann holds a bachelor of arts degree in Architecture and a M.A. degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Minnesota.

“We are excited to have a professional of Justin’s caliber join the Foundation as our Executive Director,” Wilson Pipestem, Chairman of the NB3 Foundation Board of Directors said. “He has the right experience, background, and passion to help win the fight against diabetes and obesity in our Native young people.”


MINNEAPOLIS – On Dec. 5, Tiwahe Foundation was honored at the 27th Annual Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. Tiwahe President and CEO, Kelly Drummer and Board Chair, Justin Huenemann took the stage to accept the Spirit of the People Award.

The Spirit of the People Award is in recognition of "People coming together to promote and utilize the gifts of individuals and organizations to enhance, heal and strengthen our Indian communities". It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of the work of our grantees and the impact Tiwahe has made in the American Indian community.


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson honored Ain Dah Yung Center for its outstanding contributions to human services clients. Recipients of the 2014 Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Awards were recognized at a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul on Dec. 15, 2014.

Jesson said winners in the fourth annual Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Awards share the department's commitment to supporting healthy people, stable families and strong communities. "The work we do in human services has real, profound impact – it's a safe place to sleep, the chance for better employment, the ability to remain independent. So what an honor it is to recognize these organizations for being leaders and innovators in this field," Jesson said. "Together we are helping countless Minnesotans live more dignified and fulfilling lives."

Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center is an American Indian youth and family-focused social service organization based in St. Paul that provides culturally relevant and cost-effective services, including emergency shelter for youth five to 17 years-old and a transitional living program for youth ages 16 to 21. With strong and proud cultural traditions as a foundation, Ain Dah Yung Center guides youth in learning traditional ways, shelters those struggling with homelessness, provides advocacy and case management so families can build upon their strengths, ensures the Indian Child Welfare Act is adhered to and assists older youth in achieving the assets they need to be autonomous. Ain Dah Yung Center's work is holistic ensuring that the entire family heals, grows and achieves.

Ain Dah Yung Center is one of the oldest American Indian programs in existence – in the Twin Cities and in the nation. By emphasizing traditional American Indian values, ADYC helps homeless youth reconnect with their culture and community, and find ways to transition back home or to another stable living situation.


PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – A new display showcasing the history, culture and values of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is now open at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. This is a long-term, public display located near the hotel lobby that also incorporates a new video about the SMSC.

“We hope people will come away with a better understanding of the SMSC as a sovereign nation, good neighbor, and proud community with a living culture,” SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig said. “Whether people have two minutes or 20 minutes, they will leave the display knowing more about who we are and what we represent.”

A fundamental part of the new display is a 20-minute video exploring the tribe’s past and present featuring interviews with the SMSC Business Council, an additional 10 SMSC members, numerous employees, the mayors of Prior Lake and Shakopee, and several other local business and civic leaders.

The video tells the story of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community as a people with a culture deeply rooted in sharing and working together, who today are committed to being good neighbors, employers, and stewards of the earth.

The display is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information and a link to the video, visit

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