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Mel Gravely

National Indian Head Start Directors Association Management Training Conference Recap

nihsda conferenceLast week, I attended and presented at the 24th annual National Indian Head Start Directors Association (NIHSDA) Management Training Conference. Held June 9-12 in Minneapolis, MN, this year’s theme was “Catching and Protecting the Dreams of Our Children.” According to conference literature, the NIHSDA board chose this theme because it represents “the many opportunities our children may have to be successful if they are supported by their families, community, and advocates.”

Throughout the conference, the Directors attended many different workshops from experts in the field, learning skills they can convert into opportunities for children and families in their home communities. Topics during the conference ranged from behavior management, to indigenous language and culture, to school readiness. The Keynote Speaker was Theda New Breast, a Montana-born Blackfeet Indian, whose keynote presentation “You Cannot Give Away What You Do Not Have” explored the compassion fatigue often experienced by Head Start staff.

I personally presented three workshops on Program Governance, Effective Meetings, and Team Building.

Yvette Dobbs, The Head Start Management Expert for The Gravely Group, presented The Emerging Leaders for Head Start Prorams workshop.

I have really enjoyed my time working with NIHSDA over the past couple years. Too often it seems that the national dialogue on Head Start overlooks the unique Native American experience. However, as evidenced by the passion of the Directors that attended, they certainly don’t let that affect them.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle

View my NIHSDA 2014 Conference photo gallery on Pinterest >


The NIHSDA as a professional organization promotes and supports high quality comprehensive early childhood development and education services for Native Americans in the United States and Canada.

We value the cultural uniqueness and diversity of Native communities and seek to preserve our Native identity through culturally appropriate and relevant family centered, child development and educational services. We believe the Head Start model is the best fit for Native Communities.

The NIHSDA represents over 160 Head Start programs in 26 states.

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