An unsung group of individuals from local businesses help propel the community forward through numerous volunteer hours and support when called upon. One such individual is the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation’s Felecia Freeman, who Shawnee Forward named recently as its Ambassador of the Year.
“Felecia has not only been the most active ambassador in our program, but she brings an award-winning smile and genuine care for our members to every event she attends,” said Jeremy Davidson, Shawnee Forward’s marketing and events director.
The organization’s brand ambassadors reach out to potential and new members while supporting existing members. Freeman, a commercial loan officer and certified credit counselor for the CPCDC, did not anticipate being recognized for her work.
“I was surprised,” said Freeman, who is a CPN Tribal member from the Rhodd family. “Ambassadors with Shawnee Forward are advocates for our local businesses, so I was honored when they recognized me. Although it takes a lot of time and effort to serve on these committees and boards, it helps our local and Tribal economy.”
Prior to joining the CPCDC, Freeman worked for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s Housing Authority in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. She worked with tribal members transitioning from welfare to work, providing assistance such as education, transportation, employment and life skills training.
At the CPCDC – where she has worked for more than 12 years – Freeman is a commercial loan officer and certified credit counselor. During her tenure, she has assisted in making more than $40 million in loans to Native American entrepreneurs. She also serves as the organization’s liaison to the Comanche Nation Revolving Loan Fund and works closely on entering CPN members into the credit-counseling program.
“Part of our mission as ambassadors is to ‘inspire entrepreneurial growth, economic opportunity, capacity building practices and community development initiatives in our tribal and local community.’ These business owners are our neighbors, friends and relatives, and we all want our community to thrive and grow,” Freeman said.
“CPN and the CPCDC also want to encourage business growth and thus, increase employment opportunities, promote a healthy economy and create a more self-sufficient community.”
In addition to her work with Shawnee Forward, she is a board member for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma; treasurer for the Neighboring 101 board; and a member of the Opportunity Finance Network, Native Community Development Financial Institution Network and Oklahoma Native Asset Coalition.
“As a Tribal Citizen, an employee and a community volunteer, Felecia exemplifies what is great about this community,” said Shane Jett, CEO of the CPCDC. “She gives back in so many ways and we are proud to have her on our team.”
Established in 2003, the CPCDC provides financial products and counseling services to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation members and employees nationwide as well as Native American-owned businesses throughout Oklahoma. To learn more about its services, visit cpcdc.org or call 405-878-4697.
Shawnee Forward is the recently formed business alliance of the Greater Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce and the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation. Shawnee Forward is in place to lead the Shawnee area and surrounding region in community and economic development efforts. The organization brings together resources, commitment and energy of the chamber and economic development organizations and is the lead marketing and business attraction and retention entity for the community. Learn more at shawneeforward.com.