Happy New Year from ONABEN!

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Happy New Year, Friends! ONABEN’s team is excited for the year ahead. We believe that 2015 is going to be a year of endless possibilities as we look forward to our work in Native communities throughout Indian Country!

What’s new with ONABEN? Well, with a new year comes new ideas and opportunities. In the coming months, our staff will embark upon some much needed strategic planning. We are gearing up for Trading at the River, which will be held in a different part of the country this year. I am excited to host our annual conference in Tulsa, which is what I call home. However, with that change in location the pressure is on! But, as a strong and capable team I am sure it will all come together in the end!

5dbc9c_955210ed121241e692555dacd8325690_jpg_srz_342_256_75_22_0_50_1_20_0 (Trading at the River)

In 2015, look for renewed and enhanced partnerships between ONABEN and its partners! I am very excited to report that the ONABEN team will collaborate with the OWEESTA team this year on as many projects as we can dream up! There is nothing better or more important than a coordinated effort, and our teams are certainly strongest together.

We will continue to serve our three ANA funded sites, and I look for the work in our host communities to just become better and better. In year one of ONABEN’s ANA grant, we experienced the establishment of Native-owned businesses, expanded networks, and an increase in capacity among – not just the entrepreneurs and organizations that we serve – but within our own staff as well. Best of all, we have witnessed and celebrated the successes of small business. Oh, the rewards of what we do! Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that it can get better than this….but I know that it will! You can keep up-to-date on our work in Molokai, Hawaii, Cherokee, North Carolina, and Belcourt, North Dakota, by following us on Facebook or by visiting our website!

I am also happy to report that at the latter end of 2014, ONABEN was awarded a grant by CFED to embark upon a little technical assistance around policy action. From a leadership perspective, advancing our knowledge and capacity about policy initiatives and advocacy is important. However, there is much work to be done and much information to take in. Wish me luck! It is a wonderful opportunity and we are thankful to be included.

The ONABEN training crew will be in beautiful Colorado in April to do some work for our friends at OWEESTA! And, our team has work ahead of us in California, Texas, and Oklahoma…and that is just the early months of 2015! Oh, and did I mention our growing partnership with OWEESTA? Just kidding, I know I did. But, seriously this is a big deal to me. Collaboration is a key element of lasting change.

I could go on, but this week our team is in Molokai’, Hawaii, working with our island cousins. As with every trip, I am in awe of the people and the place. A special thanks to our friend Krystal Langholz for providing financial literacy training to the entrepreneurs for us this week! Love our friends at OWEESTA!

“Talk” soon, V.

Michael Bridges

Michael Bridges

Michael is a proud U.S. Army Veteran and a member of the Cherokee Nation. With 10 years of service as an Infantryman, Michael implements the core values of integrity, honor, and selfless service into his leadership of the company. With over 20 years of experience, Michael began working with building websites and graphic design in 1998. A family-oriented man, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife Kristina and their three children. He is a proud and active member of Jenks Lodge #497 A.F. & A.M. and an advisor for the Order of DeMolay.