Diné Development Corporation (DDC) is a Navajo Nation-owned holding corporation with multiple subsidiaries that deliver information technology and environmental services to federal and commercial markets worldwide.

A crucial component of DDC’s strategic plan is ensuring the sustainability of a diverse business portfolio, while growing capable Navajo professionals for future leadership advancement opportunities.  Understanding that it can be a challenge to find Navajo candidates with the technical and executive skillsets needed for executive positions, DDC developed a tribal development plan in 2016. This plan led to the creation of the formal DDC Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP), supplemented by DDC University (DDC-U) training resources.   DDC has seen tremendous value in the structured development and transformation of Navajo protégé participants into well-rounded and capable leaders who support a wide variety of DDC project teams, programs, disciplines, and/or subsidiary companies.

One of DDC’s MPP success stories includes the recent appointment of Calista Pinnecoose as President to DDC’s newest subsidiary, North Stone, LLC.  North Stone, LLC is an information technology company with three primary services areas:  information assurance, cyber security, and business process improvement.  Prior to her recent promotion, Calista served as DDC’s Business manager and also successfully participated in the DDC Mentor Protégé Program.

Originally from Sweet Water, Arizona – a small community on the Navajo Nation, with limited opportunities – Calista is Tł’ááshchí’í (The Red Bottom People) and born for the Tó’aheedlíinii (The Water Flows Together People). She earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Maryland. She initially began her career at DDC subsidiary NOVA Corporation as an executive assistant and eventually was promoted to the Business Manager/Protégé role under her Mentor, DDC President and CEO Austin Tsosie.

The National Center has also played an important role in Calista’s professional development journey.   In 2013, Calista became familiar with the National Center’s American Indian Procurement Technical Assistance Center’s (PTAC) outreach to tribal businesses and participated in her first Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas. Being able to attend RES and listen to American Indian entrepreneurs, and in particular, female entrepreneurs, truly inspired Calista to continue on the path to bring economic development to Indian Country.

“Even if you’re a reservation kid who faced many obstacles, you can do it – you can open and run your own business,” was one of the messages Calista heard at RES, which still resonates with her today. As a woman working in federal contracting, Calista was inspired by Roxie Schescke, President of Indian Eyes, LLC, who won and accepted that year’s award for Native Woman Business Owner of the Year.  Since her first RES experience, Calista is re-inspired each year and walks away with more ideas to help Indian Country.   She credits the National Center with fanning her internal flame for business success, and providing her a great network of American Indian professionals across the country.

“I am grateful to have been a part of DDC’s unique leadership development program, which is designed to develop well-rounded leaders that are capable of leading DDC subsidiaries,” Calista said. “This program, along with the invaluable training and events developed by the National Center, are cultivating future generations of American Indian leaders.”

To learn more about DDC, please click here.