In our latest spotlight, we ask one of the newest additions to the National Center’s team a few questions about her professional experience, advice to entrepreneurs, and what she enjoys in her spare time. Yvette Fielder joined the National Center earlier this year after working with the organization in two earlier stints. She has significant experience in tribal economic development and will be helping to implement our next Native Edges Institutes on the East Coast. When she has free time, she enjoys spending time with her five children and nine grandchildren – or floating in her pool in beautiful Arizona.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work in Indian Country.
I am a single mother of five children and six grandchildren. I have one more child at home who is a senior this year. I feel very blessed to have such wonderful and awesome kids all doing very well in their respective lives, careers, and goals. My work in Indian Country has been to assist communities to prosper and grow their membership, including through employment, business development, or in early education. I worked with Gila River Indian Community for ten years here in Arizona. I learned so much working with them – and they helped me believe in myself, so much so that I returned to school and completed my degrees, including a master’s in public administration.
My most recent job before joining the National Center was with my tribe – the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, or The Three Affiliated Tribes. I had the great pleasure to help with workforce, business and economic development under Chairman Mark Fox’s administration. In my current position at the National Center, I’m excited to focus on what I’m most passionate about: tribal business development.
- What made you interested in joining the National Center?
This is my third time working with the National Center. My first role was about ten years ago when I joined the team as the administrative assistant to the President and CEO. A few years later, I was a management consultant through a Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) grant the National Center received.
I have seen the National Center go through many changes, and possibly the toughest one during the economic recession starting in 2008. I have always believed in the organization’s message and enjoy working with the National Center’s clients and other businesses and entrepreneurs it serves. I get a lot of satisfaction when they excel and accomplish goals or when they compete – and win – bid opportunities. There is no greater feeling of accomplishment than working with someone and help them achieve their goals.
The National Center has always been a foundation for business development. It’s not an easy task to raise money and keep programs funded, so I commend my co-workers, the President, and the Board for their tireless dedication over the many years to keep the center moving forward and relevant today. I appreciate their work and dedication to this 50-year-old organization and consider all of them my role models.
- What have you enjoyed about your experience at the National Center? What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on the execution and administration of our newest funding through MBDA. Its financial support will allow the National Center to create more training and development for tribes and business owners in the eastern United States through our Native Edge Institutes. In 2019, targeted areas include Florida, North Carolina, New York, and Maine. It’s an exciting development and opportunity, and I feel so blessed to be a part of this new way to reach small businesses. I am also excited to meet and work with new partners and to spread the word of this comprehensive business ecosystem, and also to leverage existing tools and resources to strengthen the platform and make it even more user-friendly.
- What’s the one piece of advice or words of encouragement you would give to a young professional who wants to get more involved in his or her tribe, or the broader American Indian and Alaska Native community?
If your mind can conceive it, you can achieve it. In other words, go for it. Learn as much as you can, educate yourself, and use all resources available to you. And as the National Center proves, there are many resources available. You’re in business when you say, “I am in business.”
When I was a little kid selling sno-cones in my mother and step-father’s concession stand in Montana, they would say, “the sale doesn’t always walk up to you, sometimes you have to get out there and go get it.” My mother would have me cut holes in the bottom of a box and my nephew (who was two years younger than me) and I would race each other to the pow wow and compete to sell sno-cones to the crowd. Sure enough, it worked and soon enough they would come find us at our concession stand. They appreciated that we would go and find them rather than the other way around.
That’s what it takes sometimes – you have to be willing to get out there, trust yourself, and make it happen. Be a sponge and soak up the information and then put what you learned into action. Sometimes you may stumble but you must be able to “pull up your boot straps,” as my mother would say, and face another day head-on to keep moving upward and onward.
5. When you’re not working on attending a National Center event, where can we find you? What are your hobbies?
I am at home working in my backyard creating my own oasis here in Arizona. I like to attend my children and grandchildren’s activities such as dance, gymnastics, and football. I also enjoy quiet time – reading or floating in my pool, or being perfectly happy in solitude. The creator has blessed me with such a beautiful family; I just soak up all their love for me, and the love I have for them.