West Michigan Tribal Economic Leader to Speak at Harvard University on Native American Business Operations
Ms. Mitchell has served as WDC’s top executive since 2016. Under her leadership, WDC has implemented business practices consistent with the Harvard Project of American Indian Economic Development (“Harvard Project”). The model is considered one of the most successful approaches to economic development for Tribes, with the tenets of Sovereignty Matters, Culture Matters, Leadership Matters, and Institutions Matter, with an emphasis on separating Tribal politics from business decisions and day-to-day management.
“I’m honored to accept the invitation to speak to students at Harvard University about current trends and Waséyabek’s success in the Native American economic sector,” said Deidra Mitchell. “For us, the practices recommended by the Harvard Project are very consistent with the Tribal teachings of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. Consequently, WDC is benefiting from the principles encouraged by both organizations.”
Ms. Mitchell will deliver her comments to students enrolled in Harvard’s Native Americans in the 21st Century – Nation Building II course. The class is led by Eric Henson, who is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and has been a research fellow/affiliate with the Harvard Project since 1998. Ms. Mitchell will focus her comments on the best practices employed by WDC, which have set the foundation for the company to grow from $0 revenue in 2017 to $75 million at the close of 2022.
“Waséyabek Development Company has embraced the practices outlined by the Harvard Project, implemented them within their organization and created a culture of positivity and growth,” said Mr. Henson. “Harvard students are fortunate to be able to hear about the real-world practical application of the Project’s principles from Ms. Mitchell.”
More than 30 undergraduate and graduate level students are expected to be present for the lecture.
“This invitation is a tremendous honor for Deidra and reflects the positive and productive impact she and the WDC team have had regarding our Tribe’s economic interests,” said Jamie Stuck, NHBP Tribal Council Chair. “When you consider that there are 574 federally-recognized Tribes in the United States and Harvard has chosen a representative from our Tribe’s economic team to present information to their students, well it really speaks to the value that Deidra and her team are bringing to the NHBP Tribal Members and to Indian Country, at large.”
WDC is one of the largest Native American economic development companies in Michigan. Its economic portfolio now includes 29 business entities, employing more than 400 people throughout its portfolio, and has investment interests in companies from coast-to-coast.