CNAY and NIGA Co-host 2017 Gen-I Native Youth Summer Networking Reception

Thursday, July 20, 2017, Washington, D.C. — For the second consecutive summer, the Center for Native American Youth co-hosted the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Native Youth Summer Networking Reception to give Native youth working, interning, and visiting the DC-Maryland-Virginia area the chance to connect with each other and Native young professionals making their career in the nation’s capital. This year, CNAY partnered with the National Indian Gaming Association who provided the space to facilitate the networking event.


The event brought together over 150 Native youth from various summer programs including George Washington University’s INSPIRE Pre-College Program and Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP), the Udall Foundation’s Native American Congressional Internship Program, and Pathkeepers Native Youth Camp. Interns from the US Department of Interior, National Institutes of Health, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Indian Health Services, and more, were also in attendance. Joining the Native youth were a handful of Native young professionals, six of whom were featured during a speed networking session. The featured Native young professionals of the evening included:

  • Corey Hinton, Passamaquoddy Tribe, an attorney from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld;
  • Angelica Molina, Navajo Nation, Business Manager for the National Indian Gaming Association;
  • Whitney Sawney, Cherokee Nation, Communications Associate at the National Congress of American Indians;
  • Ryan Ward, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Bureau Coordinator for Youth Programs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs;
  • Isabelle Penass (née Walker), Nimiipuu, Nez Perce Tribe Project Manager at Kauffman and Associates, Inc.;
  • and Nikki Pitre, Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Indians, Director of Student Success at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC).

In addition to being a featured young professional, Corey also served as the event’s keynote speaker following opening remarks from CNAY’s Founder & Chair US Senator Byron Dorgan. In his keynote speech, Corey recounted his story coming to D.C. and how networking helped me advance in his career. He shared four crucial pieces of advice to the youth in attendance to help them network – “Show up. Be present. Get out of your comfort zone. And lastly – SMILE.”

IMG_1979.JPGIt was an incredible evening with so many connections being made. Besides a speed networking portion, business card badges were also provided to those over 18 years of age, to facilitate further conversations after the event.

“[The event] was really cool! It was nice to hear so many stories, and hear about jobs and careers that I didn’t really know existed,” says Deionna Vigil, a Native youth interning at the National Institutes of Health

Additionally, two door prizes were raffled out to those who RSVP. The first was a signed vintage baseball jersey and baseball from MLB player and member of CNAY’s Board of Advisors, Jacoby Ellsbury; while the second prize was a pair of Nike N7 shoes from their 2016 summer line.

“We are excited to continue this event again next year and in the years to come,” says CNAY Executive Director Erik Stegman. “The support and enthusiasm not only for this reception, but for the entire Generation Indigenous initiative, continues to grow, and we look forward to facilitating that growth.”

IMG_1926.JPGFeatured Native young professional Angelica Molina from NIGA gives out swag and other resources to Native youth.
IMG_1858Native youth from INSPIRE’s Pre-College program intently listening to one of the evening’s featured young professionals.
IMG_1869.JPGKeynote speaker and featured young professional Corey Hinton speaks with a group of youth during the speed networking session.

Special thanks to our event sponsors – National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), Native American Contractors Association (NACA), Rockefeller and Company, Kauffman and Associates, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) – for supporting the reception and Native youth

This post contributed by Bettina Gonzalez, Outreach & Engagement Program Coordinator.

For more information about the Generation Indigenous Native Youth Summer Networking reception, please contact Bettina.Gonzalez@aspe