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On August 31, 2021, the Udall Center was honored to host Tom Udall, a recently retired U.S. Senator (NM) and newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand. Via a series of meeting sessions, the objective was to brief Sen. Udall, a Tucson native, on the Udall Center work in Indian Country through the Center’s 20-year-old Native Nations Institute (NNI) and its longstanding efforts on environmental policy.
Hosted by Andrea Gerlak, Interim Director of the Udall Center, and Joan Timeche, Executive Director of the Native Nations Institute, the dialogue session focused on ways to develop and guide Native youth, outlining the challenges they face, and outlining ways to follow through on important promises made to Tribal communities. The importance of mentorship, scholarships, educational programs, and skill-building workshops were highlighted. Those activities—which offer the knowledge to work effectively in their own communities—have proven to be key factors for achieving success in the educational and professional realms.
Later in the day, UArizona President Robert Robbins joined the discussion, which was led by Udall Foundation Executive Director David Brown and Bret Muter, the Foundation’s Deputy Director for Educational Programs. Jeremy Garcia and Valerie Shirley of UArizona’s College of Education and Indigenous Teacher Education Program, along with Levi Esquerra, Senior Vice-President for Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement also joined the discussion about potential federal funding for Native American programs.
The Udall Center and NNI look forward to future dialogue and partnerships around issues of tribal youth with the former Senator, the broader university community, and beyond.