What's New In The Community: April 2014
Friday, April 04 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Saint Mary's Student Jennifer Waltman Earns Bush Fellowship Award

Jennifer Waltman, a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student in the Doctor of Psychology program, was one of 24 leaders recently awarded a 2014 Bush Fellowship.

Waltman, from Maple Grove, Minn., will use her $100,000 award to assist her during the next three years to complete her studies at Saint Mary’s and help develop systems to assist in mental health advocacy and therapy for Native Americans.

“I’m a Lakota, and my interest is in my own community and improving the health of Native Americans,” Waltman said. “Natives have the biggest disparity in the nation for chronic disease. It is my hypothesis that historical trauma has caused epigenetic changes that contribute to epidemics of poor health outcomes such as diabetes, substance use disorder, cancer, heart disease, depression and PTSD. I want to explore mental health treatment incorporating traditional healing that would improve symptoms of chronic disease.”

Citing guidance from mentors in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Waltman will also use some of the award money to fund research with professors at UCLA and the University of Oklahoma. Her long-term goals include working with other multi-cultural psychologists to create a multicultural health and wellness center, eventually leading to consulting tribes and native people to help eliminate health disparity.

Before she embarks on her future plans, Waltman will finish her doctoral studies at Saint Mary’s. She is currently doing clinical training at Abbott Northwestern, learning with an integrated team comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists and nurse practitioners. She is continuing her studies while working as the managing partner for Heritage Strategic Group where she advises businesses and non-profit organizations on strategic processes.

Since 1965, the Bush Foundation has worked to develop the leadership capacity of the region by making investments in more than 2,200 people through its Fellowship programs. The Bush Fellowship is designed for people who have already demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities, but who feel they could accomplish even more for their community with focused, intensive leadership development. The Fellowship is distinctive in its flexibility, allowing Fellows to articulate what they need to become a better leader — whether through a self-designed learning experience or an academic program — then providing them with the resources and support to make it happen.

DSGW Architects Help Native Design Firm Open and Mentor

DULUTH, Minn. – A new firm that helps Native American tribes plan and design buildings and communities will receive mentoring and support from DSGW, one of the oldest, established architecture firms in Minnesota, officials of both companies announced in March.

The First American Design Studio will work with DSGW Architects, which has offices in Duluth, the Iron Range and the Twin Cities, to assist tribes nationwide in planning for expansion, growth and development in their communities, often including the design and construction of buildings.

“The architectural planning services that First American Design Studio offers, such as budgeting, site analysis, facility assessments, capital campaign assistance and master planning, help tribal leaders develop a vision,” said Mike Laverdure, founder of the First American Design Studio and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, based in North Dakota. “It’s really all about the effort around a project to get it to the point where a tribe is ready to move forward and work with an architect. We want help plan and advocate for growth within Native communities.”

Laverdure has worked for DSGW since 2008, helping the firm secure projects in Native communities throughout the Midwest. “When Mike joined DSGW, we knew he dreamed of owning a Native American firm,” said Randy Wagner, a partner at DSGW Architects and also at First American Design Studio. “A significant amount of DSGW’s work is tribal. With Mike’s leadership, we have become even more engaged.”

Wagner added, “The creation of a Native-owned business allows an even greater opportunity for development of tribal communities outside of the Midwest. Mike has a passion for giving back and cares about designing buildings that serve as elders in Native American communities.”

Laverdure is a board member of Minnesota’s American Indian Chamber of Commerce and is a Sequoyah member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. As the outgoing president of the regional, professional AISES chapter, he works to raise funds to promote science, technology, engineering and math activities for Native youth. Mike graduated from North Dakota State University’s College of Architecture and is a registered architect.

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