Tell us a little about yourself and your organization?
I was born and raised in Albuquerque and a product of Albuquerque Public Schools. My parents divorced very early in my life, so I grew up with a single mom, and my dad remarried. I lived primarily with my mom, who was a Special Ed teacher. Growing up, she instilled important core values in me that I still practice today, one of those is compassion. Through her work with Special education students, on and off reservation schools, I experienced the disparity between the education that I received in a public school setting, versus what was available to Native students on reservation schools. It made me very humble.
She also instilled the notion that it doesn’t matter what community you come from, as long as you know who you are. And to always remember you’re a strong Native Pueblo man, and in that, you have been bestowed upon you, blessings from the creator, and to share those blessings with others and to always be giving of yourself. This has been validated throughout my life, through different experiences and different mentors. Ultimately, the work I do is advocacy for Native peoples and Native communities, in ways in which I can share my talents and connect individuals within my networks, and always give back.
Those moments when I was growing up were hard and we struggled. But the resilience that she showed me, and the strength that a single woman of color had, ultimately laid the foundation for understanding and believing the importance of women in my life. I’ve always had strong women in my life, and I’m very fortunate to have that within my family lineage.
Some of the struggles that I had growing up are some of the same struggles young Native families have today. Knowing my experience and still seeing the same struggles today, I work to eradicate those struggles.
Tell us about your passion for building capacity in our communities.
In our tribal communities, over time, we’ve been sending our own Pueblo people off to college. Our grandparents always reminded us that we must get an education and that we need to come back and help our own people. That number has been increasing. There has been a greater number of Indigenous people that have gone off to school and got an ivy-league education, all the way down to a community college education, to a tribal institution education. And with that, many of our Native people are coming to back to help our tribal communities. In some cases, it may not be their own community, but it may be another Native community they’re helping. With my role with PNM as a Tribal Account Manager, I work diligently to try to bring and identify resources that exist externally of our tribal communities. Working to make our leadership and our key community contacts aware of grant opportunities that are available to them for different programs and initiatives, whenever possible.
I would add that our tribal communities need to continue to support educational endeavors of their young, up-and-coming professionals, and provide them a pathway where there are challenges when trying to return to a community after being gone. Sometimes, positions are not always available to come back into. Sometimes, for individuals who’ve left their community for a while, and have come back, they can be seen as “changed” by the outside world.
In my case, as well as in many others, it’s remaining connected to your community that plays such an integral part of maintaining self-identity — balancing the knowledge that you gained outside with the important knowledge you have obtained inside your tribal community. And it’s a balance, it’s always a balance. Ultimately, if you do things that are true to your core values in the way that you’re brought up, as well as to community expectations, it’s always for the betterment of the community.
What advice/suggestions would you give local nonprofit organizations that are looking for funding?
It’s so important to establish a relationship with your potential funder — have a conversation with the funding contact, or other staff within the organization as well. Understand where they’re at currently in their giving, and also understand where they want to go in the future. A lot of the time, it’s timing — maybe right now, it’s not the most advantageous time to submit a proposal, but see where you might fit down the line.
Also understand the importance of grants management, and if your organization has the internal capacity to fulfill grant obligations. I’ve seen instances where grant opportunities have been identified, and funding received, where organizations have dropped the ball on fulfillment of a grant, and in some cases, have had to give the money back. It doesn’t look good in a larger context on for the organization, from not only that granting organization, but others. And you definitely don’t want to establish a reputation that you’re an entity that cannot be trusted, nor cannot complete a grant cycle, with the funds that you’ve received, small or large.
The biggest one is the relationship building. Establish your network among other grantees that are similar to your organization, but also understand that you possess your own network as well as others, and to share. Be generous. Be compassionate. And share opportunities that may not fit your particular mission at the time, or objective, and that may be in alignment with another organization’s mission and drive.
Please sum up The Grants Collective in one sentence or phrase.
We’re building stronger nonprofit communities in New Mexico that are all-inclusive for urban, rural, and tribal.
In March of 2017, Travis joined PNM Resources in their Tribal Government and Customer Engagement department as the new Tribal Accounts Manager. He is responsible for proactively managing PNM’s key tribal accounts for business, tribal government and residential customers.
Travis specializes in tribal community relations, tribal economic development strategies and project management. He is a tribal member of Laguna Pueblo and is also from Acoma and Taos Pueblos. Prior to joining PNM, Travis worked for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, combined for over 11 years in various capacities, including more recently as the Center’s Executive Director, Cultural and Community Engagement Officer. Travis has also served at the state level as an appointee of Governor Bill Richardson in two departments – the New Mexico Tourism Department in the capacity of Indian Tourism Program Manager and Tourism Development Director and as Deputy Cabinet Secretary with the Indian Affairs Department.
He’s a graduate of the University of New Mexico – Anderson School of Management. He was recently a board member for the New Mexico Hospitality Association, several local tribal non-profit organizations and local youth little league. In his spare time, he loves to play golf and sand volleyball. Travis is married to his high school sweetheart of 21 years and lives in Albuquerque. They have three children and one grandson.