Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

Obama Names New FCC Chairman

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama this week named Tom Wheeler as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler is succeeding Julius Genachowski who announced in March he would be stepping down.

“For more than 30 years, Tom’s been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we’ve seen in the ways we communicate and how we live our lives,” President Obama said in a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House. “Tom knows this stuff inside and out.”

Wheeler is a managing director at the Washington based investment firm, Core Capital. With nearly three decades of working at the forefront of telecommunications policy and business development, Wheeler founded multiple companies offering cable, wireless and video communications services, and co-founded SmartBrief, the largest online-targeted news service. As a policy expert, he has been intimately involved in the development of the government’s telecommunications policy at both the legislative and regulatory level.

In 2009, he led the Obama-Biden Transition Project's Agency Review Working Group in charge of transitions for the science, technology, space and arts agencies. President Obama appointed Wheeler to the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

Previously, Presidents Clinton and Bush had appointed him a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Tom is the former Chairman of the Foundation for the National Archives and Board Member of PBS. He has authored two books: Take Command: Leadership Lessons of the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000) andMr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006).

Wheeler is a graduate of Ohio State University. If confirmed by the Senate, Wheeler will become the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Obama Names Penny Pritzker to be the next Commerce Secretary, Michael Froman as U.S. Trade Representative

WASHINGTON—President Obama this week has chosen Penny Pritzker to be the next Commerce secretary and Michael Froman to be the next U.S. trade representative.

Obama said Pritzker is “one of our country’s most distinguished business leaders” and “an extraordinary civic leader. The president said Froman is “one of the world’s foremost experts on our global economy.”

Pritzker is founder, chairman and CEO of PSP Capital Partners and its affiliate, Pritzker Realty Group, as well as chairman and co-founder of Artemis Real Estate Partners.

President Obama appointed Pritzker to the President's Council for Jobs and Competitiveness, which advises the administration on economic growth and job creation. Pritzker previously served on the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. She was National Co-chair of Obama for America 2012 and was National Finance Chair of the 2008 Barack Obama for President campaign.

Pritzker earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University and her J.D. and MBA degrees from Stanford University.

Froman is the deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for International Economic Affairs. He is responsible for coordinating policy on international trade, investment, energy, and climate and development issues.

Froman received a bachelor’s degree in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University (summa cum laude), a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University and law degree from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude), where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Sustainable Construction Design in Indian Country Featured by HUD and Enterprise Community Partners

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Enterprise Community Partners showcased Native American communities’ use of sustainable design and construction strategies at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian May 2 according to a news release issued by HUD.

“Building sustainable housing allows tribes to better control operating and utility costs, and produce homes that are healthier, more comfortable, durable and energy efficient,” said Rodger Boyd, deputy assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Native American Programs. “The event illustrates the long-term value of thoughtful planning and integrated whole building design.”

The Navajo Nation was one of 22-featured tribal communities to incorporate sustainable and resource-efficient elements in their affordable housing and community development projects.

The program is part of the Sustainable Construction in Indian County initiative. This joint venture was developed to promote understanding of the benefits of sustainable construction and help spur widespread adoption of sustainable construction technologies in Indian Country.

The following tribal communities were recognized:

Native Village of Kwinhagak (NVK), Housing Department, Quinhagak, Alaska.

NVK is constructing two housing designs that can withstand the region’s wet and windy weather and developing a self-help housing construction program to defray housing costs. The designs focus on durability, energy efficiency and lightweight materials. They include a number of design innovations, such as a continuous monolithic thermal envelope, which is a lightweight wall system coated with spray foam on the inside of its exterior wall.

Cocopah Indian Tribe, Cocopah Indian Housing and Development, Somerton, Ariz.

To combat desert heat and dryness, the CIHAD has worked with its utility provider to make affordable energy efficiency improvements to three apartment buildings. The CIHAD is in the process of installing low- emissivity windows, 30-year shingles, and upgraded air conditioning and energy efficient appliances. A utility program provided compact fluorescent lamps, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads as well as utility bill data to assist the CIHAD in determining baseline costs.

Navajo Nation, Navajo Housing Authority, Window Rock, Ariz.

As part of a move to integrate sustainability into their regular housing development practices, the NHA is exploring the potential for developing an interdisciplinary design review commission, revising the RFQ/RFP selection process to reflect cultural/sustainable goals, and adopting a community-based design/planning process, together with a modified Navajo version of Enterprise Green Communities criteria.

Nez Perce Tribe, Nez Perce Housing Authority, Lapwai, Idaho.

NPHA is planning 20 duplex housing units, which will be constructed with straw bale infill, timber framing and structural insulated panels for the roof, all on a frost protected shallow foundation. Cultural design features include east-facing doorways and circular housing clusters with primary eastern orientation, materials that recall traditional reed mat homes, “shed roof forms” to recall extended teepees, and carports constructed with wood frames to recall Nez Perce traditional shade structures.

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Department of Natural Resources, Dowagiac, Mich.

The Band’s long-term plan views water management and conservation as an integral aspect of a well-thought-out land use and community planning strategy. As such, the project’s watershed protection features include bioswales, cluster housing design, permeable pavement, and replacement of invasive plant species with prairie grasses and indigenous vegetation.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI), Choctaw Housing Authority (CHA), Choctaw, Miss.

Over the past three years, the CHA has constructed 74 single-family homes and eight duplexes with SIP walls and roof. Additionally, all of the homes are additionally equipped with low-emissivity windows and doors, CFL lighting, high efficiency HVAC systems, and Energy Star® appliances.

St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Akwesasne Housing Authority, Hogansburg, N.Y.

The AHA completed construction on five quadplex buildings for elders in a sustainable community setting. The units feature geothermal heating (and cooling in the training center only), six solar photovoltaic arrays, solar domestic hot water (DHW) systems, insulated concrete form wall systems, metal roofing, sky lighting tubes, stormwater management and pollution control, Energy Star® appliances, light-emitting diode (LED) and CFL lighting, as well as dual flush toilets, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.

Muscogee Creek Nation, Environmental Services, Okmulgee, Okla.

The Muscogee Creek Nation housing authority is constructing homes with structural insulated panel (SIP) walls and roofs, which are assembled at the tribe’s SIPs plant. The houses also include energy efficient windows, LED lighting, Energy Star® appliances, and hot water tanks operating off a geothermal system.  Additionally, the tribe is incorporating geothermal heating systems, installed by the tribe using its own geothermal rig.

Navajo Nurse-Midwifery Student Receives Award

WASHINGTON—The National Congress of American Indians has announced Brittany Simplicio of Albuquerque, New Mexico, as its second Native Graduate Health Fellowship recipient.

Working to revive traditional Native childbirth practices, Simplicio is a Navajo nurse-midwifery student at the University of New Mexico. Upon graduation, she will be only the 11th Native nurse-midwife in the United States. The Fellowship includes a financial award of $5,000 and professional development in tribal health policy.

“Healthy Native children and families are essential to strong tribal nations,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel in a news release issued last week.

Simplicio has been devoted to serving Native communities and conducted clinical rotations at the Northern New Mexico Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico, and at the Tsehootsooi Medical Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Together with her mentor, Nicolle Gonzales, she is also spearheading efforts to establish a sustainable birth center in northern New Mexico that would serve Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache families and bring a traditional birth option back to the Native community. Additionally, Simplicio serves as a tutor at the College Enrichment and Outreach for College Readiness Program, preparing high school students for higher education.

NCAI's Native Graduate Health Fellowship is a part of NCAI's commitment to equipping the next generation of Native leaders. NCAI received nearly 40 applications from students representing 18 tribes according the news release.

The program aims to build a pipeline of Native health professionals who can support tribal sovereignty and who are prepared to lead in promoting health policies and practices that address the unique needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives.