Whitney Jones

Hello Squaxin Island Tribe,

After getting several requests from other members, and giving it thoughtful consideration, I have decided to run for the Tribal Council Treasurer position. I believe I have the right combination of skills, experience, and temperament that would best serve our Tribe and you, the General Council, as your Treasurer.

After benefiting from the Tribe’s higher education assistance, I earned my BA in Business Administration and immediately returned to the Tribe where I’ve spent the last 22 years serving our people in management positions at the government, in the Enterprise division, and at SPIPA, as well as on a variety of committees and boards. I live and breathe planning, budgeting, evaluating, and enhancing services to tribal people. I’m one of those nerdy financial types who loves budgets and numbers – which is important to help act as a bridge between the Council, the staff, and you. Let me give you some more detail about my background and why I have the best combination of skills for this position…

My financial background and expertise include extensive experience developing, approving, monitoring, and modifying budgets, both at the individual grant and contract level, as well as at the overall agency level of a multi-million dollar tribal consortium. I’ve spent years ensuring federal compliance, and I am directly involved in and responsible for large-scale agency audits every year, including recruitment and selection of auditors, program reviews, and working with our team to provide required documentation for consistently clean audits. Additionally, I’m pleased to already have a good long-term working relationship with the Tribe’s accounting staff and significant familiarity with operational procedures from my previous work at the Tribe and as a member of the Budget Commission.

My experience and affinity for economic development have also been beneficial for my involvement in the economic side of the Tribe, both as a member of the IEI Board as well as the Business Center Director and CSO of Island Enterprises, Inc. Like many of you, I was enthusiastic about the years of innovation and economic growth that our Tribe experienced and proud that Squaxin was a leader and front-runner in so many ways. We need to get back on top of our economic game and that is going to take commitment, planning, and then definitive action. As the Treasurer, I can gather and provide relevant financial information to help guide those discussions so that everyone can effectively participate in the conversation and decision making.

You’ve heard me stress the importance of comprehensive strategic and community planning. The Tribe’s future, its growth, and its financial stability depends on defining our goals, charting a path, and sticking to it as much as possible. Your input into that community and strategic planning process is critical. I will continue to fight for this so that we can get movement as quickly as possible.

I am also passionate about continuing to increase communication between leadership and the General Council. I’m excited about the things Chairman Peters and the Council have been able to implement, even during this pandemic, and I look forward to being able to help the Council increase communication to you – and from you. In my previous term, I provided updates to you on a regular basis through the KCM Newsletter and I know there are even more opportunities to expand that now.

Transparency and communication from your elected leaders are important, and equally important is that the information is accurate. I feel strongly that you need to know what is going on so that we can reduce unnecessary rumors and confusion and so that we can come together as a strong community with a common goal to enrich our Tribe.

There are certainly many more topics that are important to our Tribe and tribal members – Elders needs, education, workforce development, youth engagement, community infrastructure, and so many more… They are all critically important and prioritizing them is almost impossible when there is never enough funding. That’s why we elect a body of leaders – to listen to the community, to effectively assess needs, and to find reasonable solutions – so that we can ensure we have a strong foundation and the building blocks of what our Tribe needs in order to thrive.

You generally find me working behind the scenes rather than on the microphone, but don’t mistake that approach for a lack of voice or willingness to fight for something. I’m known for my diligence and persistence and also for problem solving and finding solutions that incorporate all voices. My commitment to our Tribe is evident in my work history and my previous work on Council.

You have strong candidates for the Treasurer position this year – what a great thing for the Tribe! Having the right combination of leadership in the right areas will allow us to forge an even more effective and energetic partnership between the Council, who defines the vision, and the Administration responsible for executing that vision. One of the reasons I’ve been asked to run is so we don’t lose female representation and perspective since Vicki is retiring. Some issues require a lady’s touch, and I can provide that point of view firmly but diplomatically.

Now is the time to recognize that the Tribe could be on the cusp of regaining its momentum, increasing its economic vitality, and offering expanded communication and leadership to all tribal members.

Thank you for your support and for your vote.