The Hopi people have a rich cultural heritage that continues to be celebrated and preserved. Despite facing various challenges, they have maintained a strong connection to their ancestral lands and continue to pass down their traditions to future generations.
Founded in 2005, the Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation (HTEDC) was created to develop economic growth and jobs for the Hopi people. HTEDC manages the business operations on several properties located in Sedona, Payson, Second Mesa, Flagstaff, and First Mesa. With a mission to create and harness an economic environment that will blossom by securing resources and providing the guidance and training that allows Hopi Tribe members to prosper and preserve their homeland and culture, the HTEDC is an invaluable resource to the Hopi tribe.
We were able to interview Juwan Tawyesva, who recently celebrated his new promotion to HR Generalist at HTEDC, about the impact and importance of offering benefits to his fellow employees and community. Learn more about how group benefits support a group’s ability to provide for their families, feel secure, and continue a culture.
Let's Get to Know Juwan
What do you do for fun?
In my spare time, I usually go up for a walk or run. I like to do arts and crafts, dealing with my own culture. Lately, it’s been sewing, beading, kind of like that. I also like to listen to music. And also spend time with my family.
What about work is fun?
The best thing about work ios I get to work with my Hopi tribe, my Hopi members, and my Hopi community. Being a Hopi member, it feels like I am making an impact representing the Hopi tribe.
Whether professionally or personally, what is one thing you’re proud of that happened in the last 3 months?
One thing I am recently proud of is that I am moving up in the HR department. I got a promotion to an HR generalist HR assistant. I was an HR assistant and am now an HR Generalist. That was just last month, and still one of my biggest accomplishments. Still continuing education and knowledge to grow.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell the younger me… life will throw you curveballs. Every day is going to be different, but you will get through it. There will always be ups and downs, but you're going to get through it, and you're ready. You're smart to get through those obstacles.
What’s your favorite thing about Flag?
It would be the scenery, the environment, the mountain, the weather. I think it's just because that's just me. I love the outdoors, I'm just an earthly person. I just love connecting with people and am just an outdoors kind of person. I love September. It’s probably the best month. It’s not too cold, not too hot.
Learn More About the Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business since 2005, so 18 years.
How many employees do you have?
Currently, about 45 employees. And we are about to grow to maybe about 50 with a new entity next year. We’re opening that Taawaki Inn next year.
How many years have you been able to offer benefits?
We were founded in 2005, and I am guessing that’s how long we have been offering benefits.
What benefits do you currently offer to your employees?
We currently offer medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short-term disability, 401K retirment matching up to 4%, and also Health Savings Accounts, HSA.
The Value of Offering Benefits to Your Team
Why is it important to you to be able to offer benefits to your employees?
It helps our employees stay healthy, feel secure, maintain a work-life balance, and feel good about themselves.
It's for their health, you know. We’re concerned about their health and security, so making sure they're secure and making sure they have the ability to provide for their family is implortant. A big part is for their family to be able to support them and make sure everyone is safe.
To add onto that, the reason why we offer benefits is we, as the economic tribe, want to make an environment that will help them blossom by securing the resources that we provide them, such as the benefits, and providing them guidance with the benefits and training that allows them to use these minutes.
That way, they can provide for their families and other dependents. So they can prosper and, you know, pursue their homeland, the Hopi homeland, and can continue that culture.
What does it mean to your employees to have benefits available?
Where we come from, as a sovereign nation and Native American point of view, we never had these benefits, these resources, or these tools. You know how medical bills are; outrageous. And our people can't really afford those bills, so these benefits are something that helps them to get some security like I mentioned. Helps with ease of mind for their financial problems.
What was the greatest challenge of being able to offer benefits to your team?
The greatest challenge was, and still kind of still is, [trying to explain and educate about what benefits are and how they work].
Most of our employees don’t really have the background knowledge, education-wise. So they're really iffy on what certain terms mean, like “coinsurance” and all those terminologies like “deductibles.”
I think it is very overwhelming for them. That’s the part where I'm dealing with making that connection with them and helping to make it clear to them so they can understand it without, like, a Harvard education.
What do you love about working with Benefit & Financial Strategies?
I really love and I really appreciate them for their team and what they do for the Hopi Tribe's Economic Development. As far as the HR department, I couldn’t appreciate them more. They have mentored me, and guided me through every step of the way, whenever I had questions, or only vaguely knew something. I could clear it up with them to get a little insight. I love their business. They’re very professional and very on top of things. They’re good to work with, and the communication is very good.
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