NNAHRA Announces Award Winners at Annual Conference

NNAHRA Mentorship Award
The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation wins the 2022 Sam Henny Mentorship Award. L-R: Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation employees Kevin Bray, General Manager; Stephanie Pickernell, HR Director; Denise Miño, HR Learning & Development; and Tal Moore, Director of NNAHRA.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At this year’s National Native American Human Resources Association’s (NNAHRA) 26th annual conference, the commemorative Sam Henny Mentorship Award recipient and the HR Leadership Award recipient were announced in San Antonio, TX. “Both candidates were chosen for these amazing awards based on not only their qualifications, but also their contribution to improving the HR within the Native American business community,” said Judy Wright, President of NNAHRA.

At the conference, NNARHA announced that Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation won the 2022 Sam Henny Mentorship Award. Denise Miño, in charge of Human Resources Learning and Development; Stephanie Pickernell, Human Resources Director; and Kevin Bray, General Manager of the tribe created a new program called Workplace Harassment Training Reimagined.

During the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation acceptance speech, they expressed the importance of workplace harassment training and gratitude.

“Because Native American tribes are sovereigns, all that we do within our governments and enterprises should uphold our sovereignty,” said Denise Miño, Human Resources, Training and Development, Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. “As Human Resources professionals and leaders, we are in positions of power and influence to create systems, policies, and processes that reaffirm this sovereignty, and training should not be excluded from these efforts.”

The training structure and modalities were developed based on adult-style learning models of transformational and experiential learning. The course is interactive and lays out how each individual employee has a part to play in creating a healthier work environment within tribal government.

The Chehalis Tribe’s hope was to create a new and innovative way of delivering traditionally boring and awkward types of harassment training that was based on federal laws. Its goal was to develop something new, fresh, and unique, based on sovereignty, the tribe’s constitution, code, and policies.

NNAHRA HR Leader Award
L-R: Lena McQuary, Director of HR at Downstream Casino Resort and Judy Wright, President of NNAHRA.

The 2022 HR Leadership Award was also announced at the 26th Annual NNAHRA conference. The award is given to HR leaders who have exemplified their strategic role in the past 12 months and who are otherwise outstanding leaders within the HR community. The winner, Lena McQuary, the Director of HR Downstream Casino Resort for 12 years, was nominated due to her leadership skills within her HR department.

McQuary was the first Quapaw Nation member that held a director title at Downstream Casino Resort. She implemented and revised some current HR Department focuses to improve the safety and knowledge of the resort’s employees and guests.

Sam Henny was an early leader of development of programs and policies to mentor tribal members into leadership roles. Her work at the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde motivated many other tribes to introduce similar programs based on her early work and foundation-building skills. While she has passed on, NNAHRA has celebrated her life and work by presenting the annual Sam Henny Award. The award recognizes tribes with successful tribal programs that promote mentorship, succession planning or other areas of leadership.