TERO helps people improve their lives
The Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s TERO department does more than help Tribal Members, Alaska Native and American Indian people find a job. It helps them improve their lives.
“My goal is to get people into employment, schooling, or getting certified in the field they want to pursue. I try to provide a helping hand with any of it,” said Amanda Stroman, the Tribe’s TERO Job Pool Coordinator. “I want people to be in a career they enjoy, not just a job that’s barely paying the bills.”
TERO stands for the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance. The ordinance provides a way for the Tribe to exercise its sovereignty and give preference to Tribal Members, spouses of Tribal Members, and Alaska Native and American Indian people in employment, contracting and other business activities.
The Tribe is currently working with a consultant, Curtis Wildcat, to evaluate the ordinance and ensure it is meeting the needs of the Tribe.
One of the goals for the TERO department has been to establish a pool of candidates. As of July, there are 422 candidates in the pool, including 119 Tribal Members. From the pool, Stroman can identify candidates who are qualified for job openings with the Tribe. She can also help candidates find training and education opportunities, so that candidates are qualified for even more jobs.
Stroman said she keeps in touch with hiring managers across the Tribe, and networks with area employers who may be looking to hire. She keeps up-to-date on training opportunities, such as Commercial Driver’s License courses and welding certifications. She also attends job fairs to network with people there, as well as with other tribes and tribal organizations.
People with a broad range of backgrounds and experience access the TERO department. Stroman said she works with each individual to help them overcome barriers to employment or advancement in the preferred field.
“I have people who come in looking to further their schooling, people just trying to find employment, and people in sobriety just trying to keep on a better path,” Stroman said. “I try to make sure everyone who comes in doesn’t leave empty-handed, whether it’s a job lead, a resume, or just advice.”
Stroman said that every person in the job pool measures success differently.
“Sometimes success is just being employed. Sometimes, it’s being accepted into college, or finishing a college degree, or being able to step up in the job they’re in,” Stroman said. “I’ll take successes big and small.”
For Jordan Rodgers, success is going to Kenai Peninsula College to study business with a minor in communications this fall.
Rodgers said he’s “surviving” in his current job as a manager at a Soldotna fast-food restaurant, but has bigger goals for himself.
“Most of the jobs I’ve had, I’ve worked in the restaurant industry. I’ve worked up to management, but with corporate jobs, you can only get so far,” Rodgers said.
With a business degree, Rodgers said, he hopes to eventually own his own franchise.
“Keeping it local is important to me. I want to be able to employ other Tribal Members,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said the TERO office helped him find scholarships to help pay for college and walked him through all the paperwork involved.
“I would have been pretty lost on my own,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said the TERO office has been a great resource.
“If you’re stuck in a rut or you don’t know what’s next, go ask,” Rodgers said. “There’s so many avenues and opportunities waiting. Take the time and stop in there and ask.”
Katherine Bliss has been working as a Purchasing Agent in the Tribe’s Procurement department since February. She also worked in the Custodial department a few years ago. She loves her current position, and said the TERO office is helping her with her goal of “climbing the ladder” with the Tribe.
Bliss said that she had started college after high school, but ended up dropping out. After paying off her student loans last year, she started thinking about going back to school to earn a degree, but she “never made it through all the hoops.”
Bliss said Stroman approached her about college when the two started working in the same building. This fall, she’ll start working toward a business administration degree through Alaska Pacific University.
The TERO office helped with scholarships and the application process. Bliss will attend classes online, and said the APU program “seems doable for a regular, everyday person.”
Bliss said she has overcome personal challenges in recent years. Now, she said, she loves her life, including her career path.
“I love my current job. I love it all the way around,” Bliss said. “A dream of mine is to move up in Kenaitze – it’s my Tribe. I enjoy the things I do, and I love learning.”
She appreciates having the resources of the TERO office available.
“I know if I need help, I can go to TERO and get directed on the right path,” Bliss said.
Stroman said that when someone takes steps to improve their life, it also improves the lives of those around them.
“We have resources people can utilize to better their life, and their family’s life,” Stroman said. “Having someone in a career they want to be in is going to ensure that generation is better off than the one before.”
How to contact TERO
The TERO office serves Kenaitze Tribal Members, spouses of Tribal Members, and Alaska Native and American Indian people.
Contact the TERO office by calling the Administration building at 907-335-7200 or at www.kenaitze.org/tribal-member-services/tribal-employment-rights-ordinance/.