First Things First’s Gila River Indian Community Regional Partnership Council is the inaugural recipient of the Eddie Basha Regional Partnership Council Excellence Award for Service and Leadership.
Named in honor of Eddie Basha, an iconic Arizona businessman, humanitarian and champion for children and the communities that support them, the award recognizes a First Things First regional partnership council for inspiring its local community to come together and promote positive and lasting change on behalf of young children, thereby enriching all of Arizona. Brandon Basha, Eddie’s eldest grandson, was on hand to present the award, together with First Things First Board Chair Janice Decker.
First Things First regional councils are comprised of dedicated volunteers who are responsible for: assessing the needs of young children in their communities; collaborating with local early childhood stakeholders and community partners to establish priorities for their region; making recommendations to the statewide Board regarding which early childhood programs to fund in their area; and, helping build awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health with parents, families and the local community.
The Gila River Indian Community Regional Partnership Council was nominated for the award by Councilman Arzie Hogg of the Gila River Indian Community, whose nomination cited several compelling examples of the council’s service and leadership. For example, the close collaboration between the regional council and the tribe led to the creation of both the Children in Crisis (CIC) Coalition, which is improving outcomes for kids birth to 5 involved with the child welfare system, and the Family Support Coalition, which has “reduced duplication of services, increased knowledge of evidence-based family support models, and increased family support programming throughout the Community.”
The award was made possible by generous donations received from individuals and organizations to establish an endowment fund at FTF to support and honor the work of the regional councils. It was presented on August 25 at the First Things First Early Childhood Summit 2015. Brandon Basha, Eddie’s eldest grandson, was on hand to present the award, together with First Things First Board Chair Janice Decker. Governor Stephen Roe Lewis and Lt. Governor Monica Antone of the Gila River Indian Community were present to receive the award together with several members of the Gila River Indian Community Regional Partnership Council. “It’s a true teamwork approach,” said Gov. Lewis.
Brandon Basha, who also served on the selection committee, noted that selecting one regional council for the award was difficult, as “the nominations were of such a high caliber.” The other members of selection committee were former FTF Board member Honorable Judge Cecil Patterson and Kerry Blume, former president and CEO of the United Way of Northern Arizona.
The award includes the opportunity for an early childhood forum with a keynote speaker to be held in the regional council’s community to support the regional council’s work and enhance awareness of the importance of early childhood. Additionally, to continue to grow and advance the work of the regional council, one member of the awarded council will be selected to participate in a leadership conference and integrate concepts learned with the full membership.
Please join us in congratulating the First Things First Gila River Indian Community Regional Partnership Council: Chair Melissa Madrid; Vice Chair Dale Enos; and members Sherilyn Analla, Priscilla Antone, Deborah Chadwick, Brooklyn Dee, Priscilla Foote, Lillian Franklin, the Honorable Kami Hart, Tribal Councilwoman Sandra Nasewytewa and Mary Tatum; as well as FTF Regional Director Cathy Thornton Brown and Senior Director Jennifer Johnson.