As the full force of winter begins to manifest, I would like to take just a moment to reflect on all of the proud accomplishments obtained here at the American Indian OIC during the previous year – a year marked by change.

Dawn Paro with Dr. Lee Antell

To begin, our organization transitioned into a new era upon the retirement of our valued friend and leader, Dr. Lee Antell, who moved on from his post as President and CEO on May 23rd, 2014. After 15 years of dedicated service, it was bittersweet – yet understandable – to bid farewell to Lee as he committed himself to his family, his grandchildren, and the basketball court!

As the summer began, our organization began a process of reevaluating our structures and operations in order to maximize efficiencies, eliminate redundancies, and to restructure in a manner that properly addressed the changes experienced within the ranks of our leadership. By August 1st, 2014, we added two new members to our Executive Management team (Chris Hubbard – Education Director-Secondary, and Maggie Opare-Addo – Human Relations Director), and augmented the duties and responsibilities for two other members (Dawn Paro – Executive Director-Operations, and Mitzi Hobot – Executive Director-Organizational Development & Career Services).

Mpls Chamber of Commerce meeting at AIOIC
Takoda Prep students, school year 2014-15
Representative Keith Ellison meets with AIOIC leadership
Community members greet one another at an AIOIC event

From there the real work began! After implementing these recalibrations, our organization pushed forward providing the fantastic services and high caliber trainings that have personally empowered and brought employment to so many of our community members. As the year progressed, the AIOIC became the proud recipients of a grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) to further the scope and reach of some of its short-term ITcourses so as to better engage with low-income participants. In addition, our agency was also awarded a first-of-its kind agency capacity building grant given by the Greater Twin Cities United Way – who will be bringing in a talented team of experts that will work closely with our entire agency to further modernize, streamline, and build our operations in such a way so that it will continue to flourish well into the future! As 2014 began winding down, yet another success came to fruition. As a founding member of the Emerging Workforce Coalition –a collection of community-based organizations dedicated to permanently remedying employment disparities for minority and immigrant populations – the AIOIC held a leadership role in successfully procuring an historic and landmark grant from MN DEED to initiate a pilot project to further the efficacy and scalability of this coalition so that its work can continue on in a far larger, state-wide approach in the years to come.

Takoda Institute and Takoda Prep graduation events mark the progress of time in 2014.

Finally, I would like to extend the warmest wishes and my heartfelt gratitude to all of our individual donors. It is due to your ongoing efforts, and through your immense generosity, that has allowed for the powerful and empowering services provided by the American Indian OIC to reach an even greater amount of people. As a result of your commitment to the AIOIC, and your immense and compassionate spirit, so many more people who were in desperate need were able to take advantage of our services to build a new and better life – not only for themselves, but for their families and community as well! Because of you and your giving so many more people had a powerfully positive effect felt in their lives in a real and meaningful way! With your ongoing support, we will be able to continue to reach out to so many more who are also willing to build new pathways towards progress within their own lives! Pilamaya!

And so let us all take one moment more to appreciate our coworkers, our families, and our community. Let us rededicate ourselves to the mission we have courageously stepped forward to take on (if not us, then who?), and then let us all moved forward at a double quick-step and boldly meet the oncoming challenges head-on, while graciously accepting all opportunities presented to us, and achieve even more in 2015 on behalf of our people!

All the best and Happy New Year!

Joe Hobot
President and CEO
American Indian OIC