The NextGen Under 30 program and ionOklahoma Online Magazine recently recognized Citizen Potawatomi Nation employees Emily Guleserian, Ashlee May, Darian Towner and Adam Seikel as members of the 2018 class. The program honors the next generation of leaders who display innovation and creativity as well as inspire others. The competition judges candidates based on their participation in and contribution to their communities.
The program began in 2011 and expanded throughout Oklahoma, with 900 award winners selected from 6,000 nominees associated with 400 organizations. 2018’s winners hailed from communities as far flung as Guymon to Durant to Tahlequah, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Last year, the program recognized 267 winners in 15 categories.
The Hownikan spoke with each of CPN’s winners about leadership, receiving the award and working for the Nation.
Emily Guleserian — Graphic Designer, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Public Information Department
Emily has worked for CPN for just over two years, helping to create branding guidelines for programs and promote enterprises. Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design at Oklahoma Baptist University.
She believes that a leader is “someone patient, willing to listen, leads with authority and humility, treats everyone with respect and helps others reach their goals.
“Winning this award reminded me how lucky I am to have a job doing what I love with an employer who motivates me to pursue the goals I have set for myself and gives me confidence I am moving in the right direction in my career,” Guleserian added. “This award shows me the obligation I have as a young professional to display what hard work looks like to younger generations through my work ethic, determination and achievements.”
During her time at CPN, Emily has helped to create new apparel and gift items for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Gift Shop.
“Learning about the Potawatomi culture, how they keep their traditions and culture alive, has not only influenced my artwork but my mindset as well,” she said. “I have the chance to create so many designs for projects I never thought I would play a part in. In such a short time, working for CPN expanded my artistic abilities and strengthened me as a creative professional more than I would have thought possible. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to work for this Tribe.”
Ashlee May — Family Preservation Coordinator, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Indian Child Welfare
Ashlee has worked for CPN for five years. She began her career with the Tribe as a teenager at FireLake Discount Foods. While in college, Ashlee completed two internships with the Nation — one for the House of Hope program and another for Indian Child Welfare. Ashlee earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from East Central University.
Ashlee believes that a good leader is someone who “is reliable, responsible, trustworthy and helps others reach their goals. A good leader is also someone who wants to continue to learn and grow in their position.
“Winning the Next Gen award meant a great deal to me,” May added. “Especially being able to bring recognition to the wonderful things that CPN House of Hope is doing in the domestic violence/sexual assault field as well as representing the Nation overall. I felt honored and blessed to have been chosen.”
Ashlee worked for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation House of Hope program before transferring to Indian Child Welfare in 2018.
“I enjoy working for CPN because of how the Nation cares about their employees,” May said. “Not just in their work role but personally as well. The Nation has helped me reach my professional goals by blessing me with two internship opportunities that led me to be where I am today.”
Darian Towner — Prevention Specialist, Citizen Potawatomi Nation House of Hope
Darian Towner began her employment with CPN two years ago. After an internship with the Tribe, Towner was hired as a prevention specialist for the House of Hope. Towner works to educate the public on domestic violence and sexual assault prevention. She received a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University.
Darian believes a good leader is someone who “is both selfless and humble as well as passionate and driven; a true leader never stops learning or fighting for good.
“I was extremely honored to be recognized for my accomplishments, but I was even more thrilled to bring a spotlight and awareness to the domestic violence/sexual assault field,” Towner said.
Darian has helped to bring more awareness to the services provided by House of Hope by contributing a monthly column to the Hownikan, planning events to encourage self-defense and increasing House of Hope’s social media reach.
“I enjoy working for CPN because here we are all family,” Towner said. “I have forged strong friendships, discovered new role models and experienced so much personal growth in the time I have been employed at the Tribe.”
Adam Seikel — Assistant Director, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Batch Plant
Adam has worked for CPN for seven years. Before joining the operations at the CPN Batch Plant, he worked for the CPN Office of Environmental Health. At the batch plant, Adam helps to oversee the construction of foundation, roadways, parking lots and more. Adam is also a volunteer firefighter for the City of Tecumseh.
Adam believes that a leader is someone who makes “decisions that are in the best interest for workers and their company. Someone who understands and helps teach employees.
“Winning this award means to me that I have been recognized for outstanding work performance at work and within my community,” Seikel said. “I love my job for the simple reason that I enjoy the work I do as well as the people I work with and that I get to face new challenges every day.”
Read more about the NextGen Under 30 program at nextgenunder30.com.