Feb 28, 2018
Dede Devine, Native American Connections President and CEO,
talks with Jim and Jan about her organization's mission as a
sustainable resource for recovery, housing, employment, wellness,
and traditional healing for the Native American people of Phoenix.
[1:52] Dede outlines the mission
of Native American Connections (NAC) as a grass-roots-style
nonprofit, serving Native American individuals in the Phoenix
Arizona area move toward health and wellness.
[3:04] The 180 employees of NAC
are engaged and committed because of the difference NAC makes in
people’s lives. It’s life-changing and life-saving. Dede has seen
many changes in processes over 40 years, while the mission remains
[5:19] In the 1970s, Native American people
came to Phoenix from the reservation areas looking for work.
Nonprofits, such as NAC, formed to serve them. NAC was founded to
help them with addiction issues, housing, and jobs, and to
encourage wellness in a healthy Native community.
[14:33] Dede is most proud of
the unchanging mission of NAC over the years. NAC provides recovery
services in a safe living environment, connecting people to jobs,
and creating a healthy community. She is really proud that they
didn’t have mission creep, chase grants, or do marketing. NAC is
promoted through their work. To have a sustainable service
organization you need a sustainable business model.
[18:48] Dede and the NAC
campaigned for, organized, and developed the Phoenix Indian School
Visitor Center commemorating the Federal Indian boarding school
that operated in Phoenix from 1891 to 1990. The school played a
major role in the tribes of the Southwest. Now its story is
[25:26] Native American tribes
are sovereign nations. Tribal leaders have authority and
responsibility for their nations equivalent to that of the U.S.
President for America. Tribal leaders focus on economic development
in the context of the needs of the whole community. Dede and NAC
look at the whole person’s needs and the whole community’s needs —
how the history and culture impact the individual.
[30:57] There are over 540
Federally-recognized tribes. They each have their own culture,
language, and resources. They share a connection to the land and a
commitment to their homeland. They are grounded by their community,
even as they move around the U.S.
[34:08] We’re all in relationship with each other. We
have interconnectedness. People step up and lead at different
times. Think of it as a circle. In the community, you give when
you’re healthy and when you’re in need, others give to you. When
you’re connected, it’s not about ego, or who’s in charge. There is
an integrity that you will help, reach out, and step up in the
community. It’s reciprocity.
Facebook: Native American Connections
YouTube: Native American Connections
Native American Connections
Phoenix Indian School Visitor
“It’s life-changing. It’s
The mission is the same — the
way we care about people.”
“We recognize [in] people — regardless of their past —
what their future potential is.”
“I was highly influenced by
those healers, early on.”
“There were several of those
healers that took life very simply. They were committed to the
environment … to people’s human spirit.”
“To really have a sustainable
service organization you have to have a really sustainable business
Decisions need to be made in view of their effect on the
next seven generations.
“[In the Native American
communities] ‘enough’ is about when everybody is interconnected and
everybody is taken care of.”
“I give when I’m healthy, and
when I’m in need, other people give to me.”
Diana “Dede” Yazzie Devine, Native American Connections President/CEO has
been working with Native American urban and tribal entities since
1972 and has been the CEO of Native American Connections (NAC)
since 1979. NAC is a 501 (c) 3 Native American operated nonprofit
corporation that provides comprehensive behavioral health services
that integrate Native cultural and traditional healing practices,
affordable housing, and community-based economic development
opportunities. NAC serves all populations with a targeted mission
to serve Native Americans living both in the Phoenix urban area and
from tribal communities. NAC has developed, owns and operates over
700 units of affordable housing for working families and permanent
supportive housing for homeless individuals.
Ms. Devine has an MBA from
Arizona State University and holds International and State licenses
in substance abuse counseling. In addition, she dedicates her time
to local, state and national boards/committees. Ms. Devine’s
leadership and dedication have been recognized within the
community. She has received numerous awards including; Valley
Leadership’s Woman of the Year; Organization for Nonprofit
Executives Director of the Year; YWCA’s Business Leader Award;
Centennial Legacy Project – Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women;
Phoenix Business Journal’s 25 Most Admired CEOs; Phoenix Community
Alliance Center City Starr Award; Arizona Interfaith Movement
Golden Rule Award.
Books mentioned in this episode
Tribe: On Homecoming and
Belonging, by Sebastian