The 2022 Potawatomi Leadership Program class traveled from across the country to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation this summer to live on property owned by the Tribe for six weeks and learn about CPN, its culture, government and services. This year’s class consists of 10 members as the program returns to an in-person experience following a virtual program in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Hownikan asked participants some introductory questions. Meet them now:
Hometown: Clarksburg, Maryland
Anna Korzeniewski is a sophomore at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, studying history education with plans to become a history teacher. As a Lewis family descendant, she enjoyed learning about Potawatomi history and wants to “make sure that my students, Indigenous or not, have multiple historical perspectives.” This summer, she liked learning the language, meeting elders and taking up crafts.
Korzeniewski names perseverance, flexibility and positivity as defining leadership qualities. She practiced with her high school’s field hockey team despite being unable to join her freshman year. By the end of her sophomore year, she was on the varsity team and selected for the sportsmanship award “because I made a point to encourage my teammates to work hard” and “focused on pointing out things we did well.” She defines herself as loyal and a good friend who values ownership, accountability, commitment, reconciliation and the new chance that comes with each day.
Hometown: Ithaca, New York
Catherine Charnoky studies environmental science as a sophomore at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The Melot family descendant has a warm personality and describes herself as down to earth with an emphasis on dedication, loyalty and perseverance and a knack for conflict mediation.
Charnoky believes a caring person who communicates clearly, shows initiative and thinks of the bigger picture makes a good leader. She sings as part of an acapella group and works as a teaching assistant. She showed her skills as a freshman orientation leader at her university.
“I created space for students to bring their unique experiences and identities to the space, ground themselves, connect with each other, and set the tone for the rest of their college experience. I believe being a leader is an essential part of being in a community,” Charnoky said.
Living far away from Oklahoma, she enjoyed the opportunity for an immersive experience and learning about Tribal history, language and culture — crafting, in particular.
Hometown: Mansfield, Texas
Chloe Williams hopes to one day teach theater arts using her education degree from Texas State University. The Ogee family descendant begins her higher education journey this fall. When working as a leader on a theater production or choir, she makes a point of listening to everyone’s ideas and input. She describes herself as largely optimistic and enjoys sharing her personality through performance.
“(A good leader) offers a solution that considers the members’ opinions that makes everyone feel included. I also think that a good leader is easy to talk to. These qualities help create an environment that makes people feel safe to share and participate in group activities,” Williams said.
She applied to participate in the PLP to learn more about her ancestry and Potawatomi culture, and she feels it is important to pass it along to the next generation. Williams also enjoys cooking and baking and looked forward to learning about Nishanbé foods on top of music, stories, arts and history.
Hometown: Salinas, California
David Harty studies arts and humanities as a sophomore at Monterey Peninsula College near his hometown of Salinas, California. He applied for the PLP at the encouragement of his parents to learn more about their heritage. The Slavin family descendant describes himself as a “hands-on learner,” and the program provided the perfect way to experience it all in person.
“It’s vital to understand your past to better prepare for your future and live wholly as who you are in your present,” Harty said.
For most of his life, he has taken part in community theater. He finished his 26th production in March 2022, and Harty’s experiences have improved his interpersonal and leadership skills, most importantly a team-oriented mindset.
He also writes fiction and enjoys volunteering at his church as well as learning about Tribal history.
Hometown: Berkeley, California
Jaden Tarter joined the PLP this year from Berkeley, California. The Bruno family descendant studies biotechnology at Berkeley City College, and he begins his sophomore year this fall. He applied for the program with CPN to hone his leadership skills and learn about Potawatomi culture, particularly history, language and agriculture. In his free time, Tarter enjoys being outside.
“I have a deep love for the outdoors, and physical exercise, hiking, backpacking and camping have always been some of my favorite pastimes,” he said, noting their ability to relieve stress and therapeutic properties.
Tarter has worked in construction and learned how to resolve disputes on job sites. He describes himself as efficient and productive. His idea of a leader includes “someone who works with their team instead of their team working for them.”
Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma
Liberty Wolfe attends the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond as a sophomore, hoping to become a successful businessperson in her career and put many of her creative ideas out into the world. The Curley family descendant feels empathy and cultural awareness set apart people who are simply qualified for a position from someone who can thrive.
“In a world with so many aspiring leaders, there needs to be a desire to learn about people and to care for people. This is what makes a leader,” Wolfe said.
She applied for the PLP to learn about her heritage but also to open career and leadership opportunities in the future and meet new Tribal members. She enjoyed learning about the Tribe’s various governmental departments as well as Potawatomi stories and customs. In her free time, Wolfe likes to swim, do yoga, hike, walk her dog and check out classic cars.
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
As a sophomore at Arizona State University in Tempe, Melody Glover studies fine art and studio art. They decided to apply for the PLP to take advantage of a unique opportunity and the chance to experience “learning about art not in a classroom.”
Some of Glover’s favorite activities throughout the program included learning to bead, making drums, sewing and making moccasins. It matches the Leclaire family descendant’s recent interest in creating clothes, learning to stitch and modifying store-bought pieces to accommodate their style.
Glover believes a wide variety of traits make up a good leader, but the two most important are communication and sympathy/empathy, or the ability to relate with others.
“I think if you can’t relate to others then you can’t have meaningful relationships. That’s probably more of a ‘human nature’ thing than ‘leadership,’ but there’s not really a way to separate human nature from everything else we do,” Glover said.
Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Sophia Carney attends the University of Washington, Seattle, beginning her freshman year this fall. She is currently considering architecture and accounting as majors. As the daughter of CPN District 8 Legislator Dave Carney, Sophia is a Juneau family descendant. She applied to the PLP to learn more about the Tribe’s history and its day-to-day operations as well as culture, including the language.
“Making quill earrings and moccasins with my mom and aunt is always one of my favorite parts about the Family (Reunion) Festival,” she said.
Carney believes the “most prominent qualities of a leader are responsibility, resiliency and integrity,” which she used as the Associated Student Body Treasurer in high school. During the pandemic, she organized their annual food drive virtually and held it to the same standard while meeting goals.
She enjoys photography, puzzles, music and visual design and participated on her school’s yearbook staff.
Hometown: Woodridge, Illinois
Tessa Arenz begins her freshman year at Viterbo University in Wisconsin this fall with hopes of becoming a nurse. The Hardin family descendant has already worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant and volunteered with immigrant children to welcome them into the country and provide aid.
She applied to the PLP to learn more about her heritage and culture but also to observe the Tribe’s extensive health care system and meet health care professionals.
Arenz was a drum major in her school’s marching band, which helped her develop her leadership skills. She describes a leader as determined, compassionate and hardworking while demonstrating their determination and passion. They provide clarity to those around them through good communication.
“A leader is not only someone who is passionate and strong willed, but approachable and willing to help anyone,” Arenz said. “Natural leaders do not need a title or position; they will demonstrate these qualities in any group to benefit the whole.”
Hometown: Newbern, Tennessee
Tristin Stites begins his sophomore year at the University of Memphis, Martin, with plans to become a lawyer and study Indian law. The Greemore family descendant enjoys history, archeology, sports and mountain climbing.
He wanted to apply to the PLP for the opportunity to explore his Potawatomi identity and learn the Tribe’s history. Stites feels the desire “to know who I am and who my Tribe is. I can say every day of the week that I am a member of the Potawatomi Nation, but until I learn, I cannot know.” He enjoyed sessions on language, tribal law, community development and business the most.
Stites defines a leader as compassionate, determined and able to lead with unwavering conviction.
“As a leader, sacrifice is the most significant test of one’s power and should be done only in service of those you lead, not for yourself; the greatest sacrifice is of oneself for the betterment of those around you,” he said.