In our continuing series of staff profiles, we sat down with Alia Hauter, the National Center’s new Communications Director. Alia has an extensive background in public relations and marketing, as well as business development for her tribe and other Native and non-Native organizations. When she’s not preparing for the upcoming Reservation Economic Summit or a rebrand of the National Center, you can find her with her sons or hanging out with her friends – probably on a boat! We hope you enjoy getting to know Alia better.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work in Indian Country.
I’ve worked in the marketing, advertising, media industries for as long as I can remember. My career started with website and graphic design and found I was good at public relations and strategy development. Marketing is fun for me. I really grew up in newspaper business – my mother was editor of our town newspaper, The Parker Pioneer. I would help her lay out the paper, retype her articles, and take photos for the next issues. Its in my blood.
After getting some experience under my belt I was offered the Public Information Officer (PIO) position within my tribe’s – the Gila River Indian Community – Executive Office. The role quickly evolved into public policy, press relations, tribal communications, and intergovernmental relations. The position turned into a department where I became the Director of Communications and Public Affairs. With an incredible team we worked hard at building strategic relationships with our surrounding municipalities and various agencies within the state and county, from transportation to the Governor’s Office. I worked on political campaigns, from development to implementation, establishing new and strengthened relationships with critical partners for our Community to drive our political goals and missions. It’s really something when you see that commercial you envisioned on TV, or hear your words being spoken in the state Senate, or see legislative change come from a campaign on which you worked so hard.
During my time with my Community I was also our Public Safety’s PIO. I got to know our PD, Fire, EMS, OEM, and Wild Land crews. With what our first responders face, it truly takes a special kind of human being to go into public safety. I was a support for them, working with Gila River’s law enforcement to solve cases, managing the media, crisis communications, and coordination with various agencies when NIMS was activated.
After politics I moved into the tourism and development world as the Director of Marketing for Wild Horse Pass Development Authority. Wild Horse Pass is a 2,740-acre tourism destination located in the Phoenix area. I worked with our team and rebranded the development into a true destination, working closely with each of our properties, the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, Whirlwind Golf Course, Aji Spa, Koli Equestrian Center, Rawhide Western Town, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Bondurant School of Driving, Phoenix Premium Outlets, and our flagship property the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. I managed the groundbreakings for all of our construction projects including two casino projects and the Four Points by Sheraton at Gateway Airport. I also provided guidance during sports contract negotiations and was the Executive Producer for one of three official NFL Fan Fests during Super Bowl XLIX. I’m proud to say one of our commercials won an ADDY!
I took the big step and went independent, with Hauter, LLC – my marketing, public relations, and business development consulting company. I fell on my face the first time out the gate, but it was a great lesson learned. My clients took me from Arizona to Southern California, Oregon, and Washington and my work ranged from the legal and business leg work for marijuana grows and extraction companies to fundraising and sponsorship development, event planning, media relations, and the entertainment industry.
Traveling takes a lot out of you. I have kids, and we missed each other too much. It was time for me to come home and establish some roots.
Cut to today. I am now the Director of Communications for one of the nation’s oldest Native American organizations, The National Center – a 50-year-old organization whose mission is to support economic development for tribal communities and their citizens. I still have my consulting company and I sit on my community’s development organization, the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority.
What made you interested in joining the National Center?
My career and business had grown into more than PR and marketing. I had years of business development experience, and while at Wild Horse Pass Development, I dove into the construction & development arena. I wanted to apply what I learned and share the resources and relationships I made with others. I found that same passion with Chris James and The National Center. I was familiar with the organization, attended and spoke at several Reservation Economic Summits, and after a long interview with Chris, I got the job!
What have you enjoyed about your experience at the National Center? What are you working on currently?
This is an incredible team to work with! I belly laugh every day. Chris has put a team of professionals together that are ready to take this organization to the next level. We all come with years of experience in and out of Indian Country. Our networks are broad and relationships are strong. We have all made successful careers for ourselves and are now part of a team that truly supports economic development for tribal communities and citizens across the nation. It’s a fulfilling organization. I’m happy.
In addition to planning RES 2019, we are working on a rebrand of the organization. Chris and our board of directors have a vision and my job is to help them achieve it. We are launching a new look and feel for The National Center. We offer so much to native-owned business and have resources to offer no other organization does.
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?
Don’t wait! Do what makes YOU happy. There are going to be twists and turns along the road, so stay focused on your intent. Be kind, be humble, speak truth.
When you’re not working on attending a National Center event, where can we find you? What are your hobbies?
When I’m not working you can find me on the golf course, at the gym, floating on a boat, or sitting in the sunshine with my girlfriends. I love live music and food – put a taco in front of me it’ll be gone in three bites! I really enjoy cooking for others. I also have three really great boys, who are good guys with great sense of humors. I love every second with them.