Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program holds Summer Retreat

by Jul 11, 2020COMMUNITY sgadugi


LAKE JUNALUSKA – The Fellows of the 2020-2021 Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program assembled lakeside at Lake Junaluska on July 6-8 to meet with their mentors and begin their journey through the program year. The retreat was a little bit different this year due to COVID-19. The meetings were held outdoors, each participant was provided a cloth and N95 mask, hand sanitizer, and gloves, food was take-out only, and social distancing was required. 

Kevonna Tushka, left, and Levi West are shown working on a retreat assignment at the recent Jones-Bowman Leadership Award program retreat at Lake Junaluska. In the background, Dawn Arneach, left, a Jones-Bowman mentor, is shown discussing a topic with her Fellow, Jessica Lambert. (Photos courtesy of Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program)

The Jones-Bowman Leadership Award program is a culturally-based leadership program for college undergraduate students who are members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Each fellow is paired with a mentor to work with throughout the program year. 

This year’s program fellows and their respective mentors include: Levi West (mentor Monica Wildcatt), Kristen “Sassy” Washington and Hope Long (mentor Dr. Blythe Winchester), Raylen Bark (mentor Ahli-sha Stephens), Nolan Arkansas (mentor Dr. Trey Adcock), Nola Teesatuskie (mentor Tara McCoy), Sarah Thompson (mentor Kathi Littlejohn), Jessica Lambert (mentor Dawn Arneach), and Kevonna Tushka (mentor Dr. Jennifer Thompson). Mentors are selected based on their high degree of professionalism and knowledge of history/culture and community service work. Mentoring is completely voluntary, and the pairings are made based on the individual fellows’ needs and career path.

The retreat begins with the participants reviewing and discussing the seven Cherokee core values including: Group Harmony, Sense of Place, Strong Individual Character, Educating the Children, Honoring the Past, Spirituality, and Sense of Humor. 

Workshops included the Fellows building their individual leadership plan that includes an individual cultural goal and leadership goal they want to achieve. Their cultural goal is something they wish to learn and share that incorporates Cherokee culture. Their leadership goal is something they wish to accomplish that will help them gain knowledge of becoming a better leader utilizing the traditional Cherokee leadership practice of selfless leadership. 

Fellows are awarded up to $4,000 each to complete their leadership plan. 

The summer heat was minimal as the group participated in afternoon group project brainstorming. The J-B Fellows annually complete a community project and participate in volunteer work. The group project is completely in their hands, though mentors offer advice and guidance. A project idea is conceived and brought into the advanced planning phases in just three planning sessions. 

The Jones-Bowman Leadership Award program mentors and Fellows are shown, left-right, Monica Wildcatt, Dr. Trey Adcock, Sarah Thompson, Nolan Arkansas, Ahli-sha Stephens, Kathi Littlejohn, Jessica Lambert, Raylen Bark, Christopher Reed, Kevonna Tushka, Levi West, Hope Long, Nola Teesatuskie, Kristen “Sassy” Washington, and Dr. Blythe Winchester. Not pictured – Dawn Arneach, Dr. Jennifer Thompson, and Tara McCoy.

The next morning was clear and bright; the fellows are brought together for a discussion on higher education and to go over the next steps in the program. Fellows who are upperclassmen offer advice to the upcoming freshmen, while the freshmen bring their own questions to ask those with more experience. 

The Jones-Bowman Leadership Program is a program under the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute which is a department of the Cherokee Boys Club and is supported by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. It is named after Principal Chief Leon Jones and Tribal Council Representative James Bowman who were integral in the formation of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. 

For more information on the Jones-Bowman Leadership Award program and how to apply in the future, contact Christopher Reed or 359-5544. 

– Submitted by Christopher Reed, Jones-Bowman leadership specialist