At the 27th Annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas, the host, the National Center for American Indian Economic Development (NCAIED), honored the work and dedication of its outgoing chairwoman of its board of directors, Margo Gray Proctor.
Gray Proctor, an Osage citizen, is stepping down after serving as board chair since 2009.
“I’ve done it for four years, and I was able to impact how we did trade and commerce in Indian country and also bring Native women into business,” Gray Proctor told Indian Country Today Media Network. “It takes a lot of time and dedication to do that, and I figure giving four years of that time has really planted those seeds and now they’re growing.”
On the final day of RES, held March 11-14, Gray Proctor passed the baton on to newly elected board chair Derrick Watchman, a member of the Navajo Nation and CEO of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, who has served as a member of the NCAIED board of directors for 10 years.
Gray Proctor will continue to help develop the American Indian private sector to promote tribal self-sufficiency and craft more opportunities for women as a member of the NCAIED board and in her role as president of the Horizon Engineering Services Co., an award?winning 8(a) Native American woman?owned civil engineering firm, as well as in numerous other roles. Gray Proctor additionally serves as board member for the American Indian Business Network, board member for the National Indian Gaming Association, co-chair for the Economic Development Sub?Committee for the National Congress of American Indians, and active member of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, among her work with many other organizations.
“I’m not going away!” Gray Proctor said. “I’m still on the [NCAIED] board. But, you know what? Change is always good, and I have full faith and confidence in Derek Watchman to be representing Indian country.”
At the conference, Gray Proctor spoke with ICTMN about the progress made by the NCAIED and conveyed energy and enthusiasm about the future of Indian country and global business opportunities for tribes and Native American-owned companies.
“When I first came to RES, there were about 800 or 900 attendees,” she said. “Changing the location and changing the focus from being so government-heavy to going industry-wide made a significant impact, because Indian country is not just linear—it is so broad.”
Having effectively lead the organization through an economic downturn, the proud Osage woman and Tulsa, Oklahoma resident confidently acknowledges that she has made a positive impact on the history of Indian country.
“Being a business owner, a mother, a grandmother, part of my own [Osage] community, what I did was give 100 percent,” Gray Proctor said. “To me the rights and issues we brought to light, like Go Red for Native heart disease, violence against women, cancer in Indian country—to take that [NCAIED] platform for these causes made an impact. To me, my shining accomplishments are [highlighting] Native women and ‘40 Under 40’ and using our platform for social issues. I know that’s my legacy. With ‘40 Under 40’ this year, we’ll have 200 of them, young educated, dynamic Native people. In 20 years we’ll have over 800—that impact will be powerful.”