Tribal Government & News

Years of Service awards honor 83 employees

09.28.2023 Danielle Harrison Years of service
Spirit Mountain Community Fund Program Coordinator Angela Schlappie hugs Tribal Council member Brenda Tuomi as she is recognized for 20 years of service to the Tribe during the third quarter Years of Service awards held at the Tribal gym on Thursday, Sept. 21. In the background, Grand Ronde Emergency Services Firefighter-EMT Jennifer Colton hugs Tribal Training Specialist Tisha Pellett as she’s recognized for 21 years of service. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals editor

Eighty-three employees with a combined 1,301 years of service to the Grand Ronde Tribe were honored during the third quarter of 2023 at a breakfast held at the Tribal gym on Thursday, Sept. 21. They included third-quarter employees hired in either July, August or September with at least five years of service to the Tribe.

Tribal Council Secretary Michael Cherry welcomed employees to the service event, noting how much the Tribe had grown since Restoration in 1983.

“I’m so grateful for all of our employees,” Cherry said. “We have close to 700 employees now. When I started here in the 1990s, all the employees worked out of the Depot (building). Growing up in Grand Ronde, the only land we had was the cemetery and five acres.”

Other Tribal Council members in attendance included Brenda Tuomi and Denise Harvey.

Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy was unable to attend, but sent a message to share with employees. “Please express my congratulations to staff and tell them that I greatly value and appreciate them. I’m sorry I can’t be there today.”

Employees were served biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage links, potatoes and fruit.

Leading those honored in employment longevity are GED Coordinator Tracy Biery, General Manager’s Office Administrative Assistant Barbara Branson, Benefits Specialist Barbara Steere and Staff Accountant Melanie Hubbard, who all reached the 33-year mark in working for the Tribe.

Joining them in the three decades or more club were Higher Education Manager Bryan Langley and Chinuk Immersion Preschool Teacher Jeff Mercier, who each notched 32 years of service, Finance Officer/Interim General Manager Chris Leno, who reached 31 years of service and Social Services Administrative Assistant Tammy Garrison, with 30 years of service

 In the quarter-century or more club were Education & Services Coordinator Elaine Lane Raven, Dental Department Manager Sheila Blacketer and Swing Shift Supervisor Ben Bishop, who reached the 25-year mark.  

Assistant Tribal Attorney Kim D’Aquila and Cultural Advisor Bobby Mercier both reached 27 years, Organizational & Training Manager Scott Mode hit 28 years and Tribal Attorney Rob Greene notched 29 years.

Achieving 20 or more years of service were Benefits Specialist Peggy Carpenter, Community Fund Program Coordinator Angela Schlappie and Nutrition Program Manager Kristy Criss-Lawson with 20 years, Cook Kevin Campbell and Firefighter-EMT Jennifer Colton with 21 years, Security Department Supervisor Roel Hernandez, Purchase/Referred Care Health Care Payment Specialist Erica Mercier and Chachalu Manager Travis Stewart with 22 years while Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coordinator Matthew Bucknell and Facilities Manager Tyson Mercier hit 23 years of service. Procurement Supervisor Kevin Mueller and Cultural Protection Specialist Christopher Bailey reached 24 years.

Employees received certificates in appreciation for their increasing tenure with the Tribe. Employees who hit milestone years of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years also received bonus checks. In addition, those reaching the 10-year mark received a Tribal Pendleton blanket and a $50 check, or a $150 check.

Other employees honored during the third quarter included:

19 years: Health Information Technician Stephanie Simmons, Member Services Program Manager Shannon Simi, Finance Executive Assistant Ken Trevino and Employment Specialist Brandy Hembree.

18 years: Health Information Technician Leanna Norwood and Chinuk Wawa Program Aide Susan Sabey.

17 years: Asset Inventory Specialist Nathan Mueller.

16 years: Central Phones Receptionist Scarlett Holtz, Information Services Program Manager Alec Palanuk-Mercier, Publications Coordinator Dean Rhodes and Preschool Bus Driver/Aide Jennifer Jerabek.

14 years: Senior Help Desk Technician Spencer Olson, Teacher Aide/Bus Monitor Bradly Robertson and Maintenance Supervisor Andrew Freeman.

13 years: Maintenance Technician Jason Bailey, Budget Manager Veronica Montano, Maintenance Technician Gary LaChance Jr., Early Childhood Education Department Manager Angie Blackwell, Housing Maintenance Technician Michael Lane, Native Connections Project Coordinator Keri Kimsey and Child and Family Services Supervisor Amber Zimbrick.

12 years: Vocational Rehabilitation Caseworker Amber Yates, Medical Technologist Staci Pemble, Community Support Specialist Joanna Brisbois and Senior Maintenance Technician Daniel Mooney.

11 years: Vocational Rehabilitation Caseworker Tara Summers, Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez, Youth Prevention Grant Coordinator Angey Rideout, Senior Telecommunications Administrator Mark Scheelar, and Parks and Recreation Specialist Jerry Bailey.

10 years: Cultural Education Coordinator Jordan Mercier.

9 years: Health & Wellness Clinic Medical Doctor Lance Loberg.

8 years: Housekeeper Jonathan Baker, Help Desk Administrator Braden Ebensteiner, Senior Help Desk Technician Nathan Hoff, Employment Coordinator Shylo Williams and Tribal Police Officer Tokata Tehama.

7 years: Education & Inclusion Coordinator Star Weatherall and Senior Staff Attorney Brooks Wakeland.

6 years: Health Information Technician Norma Reed, Housekeeper Dorene Gillespie, Pharmacy Director Lincoln Wright, Dental Assistant Sam King, Pharmacist Timothy Wood, Security Officer Eugene Pribble, Smoke Signals Editor Danielle Harrison, Spirit Mountain Community Fund Administrative Assistant Pamala Warren-Chase and Silviculture & Fire Protection Technician Nicholas Larsen.

5 years: Certified Application Assistor Cassandra Rhamy, Audit Director Steve Harrop, Pharmacy Technician Carrie Lewis, Pharmacy Clerk Amber Thiede, Certified Medical Assistant Jennifer Lott, Assistant Chinuk Wawa Teacher Brettia Vale, Warriors of Hope Program Manager Danielle Murrell and Pharmacist Andrew Canning.  

Raffles were conducted during the event that included additional administrative leave and cash drawings for $50 to $1,000.

Afterward, staff were invited to participate in a service event to help prepare native plant patches at the Thompson property near Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center.