NAFOA announces its 39th Annual Leadership Awards Recipients

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NAFOA announces its 39th Annual Leadership Awards Recipients

May 7, 2021

Virtual. (May 7, 2021) – NAFOA has honored the accomplishments of a tribal leader, tribal executive, financial deal advancing tribal economies and an education program positively impacting Native Americans. The awards were presented throughout NAFOA’s 39th Annual Conference held virtually. 


Sherry Treppa, Chairperson of the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake Tribe received the prestigious Tribal Leader of the Year Award. William “Billy” Nicholson II, CFO of the Confederated Tribes of the Coleville Reservation was awarded the Executive of the Year Award. The Coquille Tribe’s Ko-Kwel Wellness Center won the Deal of Year Award and Oklahoma State University’s Introductory Tribal Finance and Accounting Certificate Program was this year’s recipient of the Education Program of the Year Award. 


“This year’s honorees were nominated by the NAFOA community for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to Indian Country and include extraordinary people, an education program that strengthens tribal nations, and a vital financial deal for integrated healthcare for the Native American population. The NAFOA Board is humbled and honored to recognize and celebrate them on behalf of the NAFOA community,” remarked NAFOA’s 1st Vice President, VaRene Martin. 


Tribal Leader of the Year Award

NAFOA is proud to present Chairperson Sherry Treppa with the Tribal Leader of the Year award for her steadfast and pivotal leadership of the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake Tribe throughout her long career with the Tribe. Chairperson Treppa became involved in Habematolel’s nation-building by volunteering for the enrollment committee in 2001 where she played an influential role. With the Constitution formally approved in 2004, Ms. Treppa was elected the first modern Vice-Chairperson. Four years later, she was elected as Chairperson and has served in that role since 2008—leading the Tribe from a near-zero budget, loosely organized, landless, newly-recognized sovereign to the complex governmental and business operational unit it is today. In her 12-year tenure as Chairperson of the Tribe, she has led the Habematolel from what was considered a terminated government to a respected and admired sovereign in the region and the nation. 


Executive of the Year Award

NAFOA is pleased to present the 2021 Executive of the Year award to William “Billy” Nicholson II, CFO of the Confederated Tribes of the Coleville Reservation for his engagement in several innovative transactions in recent years that have grown the economy of the Tribe while placing it on a more stable financial foundation. Billy Nicholson II has long served his Tribe as both an elected member of the Colville Business Council and as its top finance staff member. From recent wildfires to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicholson has faced his share of challenges this past year. But he has faced them with a positive attitude that has been a great influence on everyone who works with him both inside and outside the Tribal government. 


Deal of the Year Award

NAFOA also honored the Coquille Tribe’s Ko-Kwel Wellness Center with NAFOA’s Deal of the Year Award for their $12 million Coquille Healthcare Facility Financing deal. The Ko-Kwel Wellness Center will be a 20,000 square-foot facility to expand the current nearly 8,000 square-foot center. Using $12 million of New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) investment, the new facility will expand and consolidate services under one roof offering primary care, mental health care, dental, and pharmaceutical services. This facility will have a meaningful impact on the entire region’s ability to seek and receive needed healthcare services.

Education Program of the Year Award

The Oklahoma State University Introductory Tribal Finance and Accounting Certificate Program (developed in coordination by the Oklahoma State University Center for Executive and Professional Development, the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium, and NAFOA) is the recipient of NAFOA’s 2021 Education Program of the Year award. There are 38 Native American tribes and approximately 367,350 Native Americans in Oklahoma which comprise 9.3% of the state's population. The OSU Introductory Tribal Finance and Accounting Certificate Program was developed to provide regional professional development for this underserved population. The purpose of this program is to strengthen the financial acumen of tribal leaders and tribal employees, which in turn advances tribal nation economics and strengthens tribal finance.


The 39th Annual conference marks our second year in a row hosting in virtual format. A record number of virtual attendees celebrated the dedicated individuals that contribute to the economic strength of Indian Country. 

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NAFOA is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen tribal economies by: promoting excellence in financial management, advocating sound economic and fiscal policy, developing innovative education initiatives, and providing essential information, resources, and support to meet the challenges of economic growth and change. NAFOA will be holding its 2021 Fall Finance and Tribal Economies Conference at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, TX on September 27-28. For more information about the organization, visit www.nafoa.org.