Two Cherokee citizens made a national list of emerging young Native American leaders who are making an impact among their tribes. Arizona-based United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. recently released its inaugural “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards” class.
RELATED: UNITY Announces 25 Under 25 Honorees
Cherokee citizens Chelsea Wilson, 24, of Alexandria, Virginia, and Nathalie Tomasik, 19, of Tahlequah, will be recognized for their achievements and embodying UNITY’s core mission at the UNITY National Conference starting June 28 in Portland, Oregon.
“We are proud to see multiple Cherokee Nation citizens receive the UNITY award, as it is such a prestigious honor for young leaders across Indian Country,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Both Chelsea and Nathalie deserve this recognition, and they will continue to positively represent the Cherokee people and our values. Earning this honor speaks to their professional promise, civic awareness and leadership capabilities. In a relatively short time, they have both made very real contributions to our tribe and to our larger Native community.”
Wilson, a Tulsa County native, graduated from the University of Denver in 2012 with a degree in political science. She worked in the Cherokee Nation’s government relations office on top federal policy priorities. Wilson wrote congressional testimony, created a voter engagement project and developed a legislative portfolio highlighting economic development, health care and education. Wilson currently works in Washington, D.C., as a legislative assistant for the Native American Contractors Association.
“It meant the world to be nominated for UNITY’s 25 Under 25. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have an amazing mentor, talented colleagues and a supportive family,” Wilson said. “So much of the work I did at the Cherokee Nation shaped who I am today and why I’m working on Native issues at the national level. I’m deeply honored to be recognized as one of UNITY’s 25 Under 25 and am looking forward to becoming a better leader through the program.”
Tomasik, a Gates Millennium Scholar, attends Oklahoma City University, where she is majoring in acting. As a Sequoyah High School graduate and member of its drama club, Tomasik acted in many school productions. She also performed in several independent films. Currently, she is working as the lead in an upcoming independent film, “The Heart Stays.” Tomasik has also participated in the Remember the Removal Bike Ride, Cherokee National Youth Choir and Cherokee Tribal Youth Council.
“I am thrilled and honored to receive this award as one of the 25 Under 25 honorees. This award is only given to Native youth who have proven themselves to be outstanding individuals and leaders,” Tomasik said. “Each honoree has their own set of skills, talents and ideas to help them impact their own communities. I would like to thank UNITY for this amazing opportunity to help me with my dreams, and my family and friends for always supporting and believing in me.”
Wilson and Tomasik will join their fellow honorees and 1,300 Native youth at the national conference for a week of leadership development. The “25 Under 25” honorees will receive special training by UNITY over the following year. The training is designed to build on their individual achievements.
UNITY will be accepting nominations for the 2015 “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards” next spring. For more information on UNITY, visit UNITYInc.org.