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Thank You Graham

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are in a time of change in season with the coming of Falling Leaves Moon – the month of October. Binaakwe giizis in the Ojibwe language and Canwape Kasna Wi in Dakota/Lakota.  With the Fall season, MIGIZI is in a time of change that includes the relocation to our new space, a new brand, marketing and communications initiative and strategic plan for the organization.  As part of this change in place and time, MIGIZI has been evaluating the best way to work with our young people in the most impactful way that leads us into the year 2020. We have had to make some difficult decisions as to how we best streamline our administration and allow for potential growth in our youth leadership and academic development initiatives, First Person Productions and Green Jobs pathway programs. As a result of these decisions and our restructuring, we have had to make decisions regarding our administrative costs and have eliminated the Associate Director position at MIGIZI.

MIGIZI has been blessed with the leadership and commitment of Graham Hartley for the past 24 years. Graham left his position as Secondary Science Teacher and Dean of Students at Heart of the Earth Survival School to join MIGIZI in 1995 as Director for our US Department of Education funded Native Academy Program. At MIGIZI, Graham transitioned from the Director of the Native Academy to his position as Director of Programs in 1999. In recognition of his leadership role through the transition, Graham became the Associate Director in 2018. He has been an essential resource and connector during the transition from Laura Waterman Wittstock’s leadership to Elaine Salinas’ tenure. He then served as the Interim President through the transition from Elaine’s work to the seating of Kelly Drummer as MIGIZI’s President in November of 2018. Over the years, Graham has successfully created, developed and delivered quality programming to improve the lives of young people. He has represented MIGIZI in relationships with the community, built partnership with educational, foundation and governmental entities, but more importantly, Graham has connected with young people. In addition to his daily work with students, he has taken time to embed himself in honors chemistry and algebra classes in which he was an asset to student learning and to the classroom teacher sharing tips and recommendations to improve practice. He has been part of the leadership of the Phillips Indian Educators (PIE) and their work to create the historic Memorandum of Agreement between the Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis American Indian community. In his work with PIE, Graham is recognized as one of the founders of the Bdote Learning Center, an immersion school with tracks in Dakota and Ojibwe languages. Graham, and has been a mentor to hundreds of American Indian young people throughout his career. He has served on the Boards of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Minnesota Transitions Charter School, Bolder Options, NaWayEe Center School and the Bdote Learning Center. We would like the community to join us in honoring Graham and his commitment to MIGIZI and the American Indian Community. 

Please join us to celebrate his leadership at MIGIZI offices on October 18 from 12:00 to 3:00 pm. RSVP at

- Kelly Drummer, CEO and President MIGIZI

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