We invite you to nominate someone for the 2020 Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Awards! Click Here for the nomination form.

Nominations must be received by Monday, August 31, 2020, at midnight.

The Phoenix Indian Center, Inc. continues a legacy of presenting leadership awards to the American Indian Community.  This awards process has continued for over thirty-five years and is formerly known as the NARD or Native American Recognition Days Awards.

In 2012, the decision was made to rename the awards to the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Awards to incorporate its intent, recognizing leadership within the American Indian community.  Both adult and youth awards are presented. Adult awards are annually presented to individuals who have shown leadership in themselves or business and demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in their profession with regards to and representing the American Indian Community.  The individual also provided a valuable service to the community by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for other American Indians and is seen as a leader amongst peers, affecting positive change in the profession, workplace, school and community.

Youth awards recognize individuals who have strong academics, have shown leadership in self or through school clubs and activities and demonstrated excellence in academics, creativity and initiative.  They also demonstrate a strong representation of leadership that is both culturally and non-culturally based and is perceived as a leader amongst peers, educators and community.

Adult award categories consist of Kent C. Ware and Phyllis BigPond Lifetime Achievement Awards, Man and Woman of Year, Business of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Friend of the Community (non American Indian person or business).  Youth award categories consist of College Students of the Year (male/female) and High School Students of the Year (male/female).

Congratulations to the honorees of the 37th Annual Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Awards!

2019 Honorees:

Kent C. Ware Award – Rick Baker (Hopi) – Physical Education Teacher, Hopi Junior Senior High School

Phyllis J. Big Pond Award – Tia Bruised Head (Walla Walla/Yakama/ Diné) – Counseling Faculty Scottsdale Community College

Spirit of the Heard Award – Baje Whitethorne, Sr. (Navajo) – Renowned Artist (presented by the Heard Museum)

Man of the Year – Honorable Governor Stephen R. Lewis (Gila River Indian Community) – Governor, Gila River Indian Community

Woman of the Year – Honorable Representative Jennifer Jermaine (White Earth Ojibwe) – State Representative, Arizona Legislative District 18 

                                        Honorable Representative Wenona Benally, former (Navajo) – Assistant Attorney General, Pascua Yaqui Tribe

Business of the Year – Indian Country Today Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock Tribe), Editor

Volunteer of the Year – Sheila Lopez (Diné) – Diversity Program Manager, Intel Corporation

Friend of the Community – Tony Davis Detective, City of Phoenix Police

College Student of the Year – D. Gonzales (Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community)  – Northern Arizona University

College Student of the Year – Shailene Edwards (San Carlos Apache) – Arizona State University

High School Student of the Year – Tristan Craig (White Mountain Apache Tribe/Navajo) 12th Grade – New School for the Arts and Academics

High School Student of the Year – Candice Joe (Navajo) 12th Grade – Sierra Linda High School


Thank you to all of the sponsors of the 2019 Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Awards!

Raven Sponsors:


Falcon Sponsors:

        Urban Giff Family


Table Hosts:

Akin Gump, American Indian Chamber of Commerce Arizona, Heard Museum, Lewis Family, Minkus Advertising Specialties, and Native American Connections.

a 501(c) 3 non-profit recognized by the IRS. Tax ID Number: 86-6006566

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