For his service, commitment, and dedication to the greater good of the American Indian community, Ernest (“Ernie”) L. Stevens, Sr., will be honored by the Phoenix Indian Center with the 2017 Leon Grant Spirit of the Community Award. His son, Ernie Stevens, Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, will accept the honor at the 34th Annual Silver & Turquoise Ball on his father’s behalf.
This year’s ball celebrates the Center’s 70 years of service to the valley’s American Indian community. Tickets can be purchased here for the event on Saturday, April 22, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona. The ball will feature American Indian art auctions, a cultural dining experience prepared by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian executive chef Freddie Bitsoie, and culturally based entertainment.
A signature charity fundraiser for the Center, the ball raises money and awareness to support the nonprofit organization, which has enriched the lives of nearly a million people since its founding in 1947. Services and programs provided range from job preparedness and prevention programs, to cultural enrichment, youth programming and community engagement.
The Leon Grant Spirit of the Community award, established in 2013, is named after the late Leon Grant, a founding member and first executive director of the Phoenix Indian Center. Previous honorees have included the late Leon Grant, Joe Garagiola, Sr. and the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, Dr. Eddie Brown, and Dr. John Tippeconnic.
Stevens, Sr., is a nationally known American Indian leader, historian, educator, orator, and a specialist in economic development. Stevens, Sr., was selected to serve as executive director of the American Indian Policy Review Commission (AIPRC) by South Dakota Senator James Abourezk in1975. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served four years in Korea while earning the rank of Staff Sergeant at the age of 19. “My father was one of the greatest veterans who ever walked the earth,” Stevens, Jr., said in 2012, when three veterans and directors of the National American Indian Veterans honored him and his father for their service.
Stevens, Sr., has served in distinguished leadership posts including executive director for the Los Angeles Indian Center, economic development director for the Indian Community Action Project based out of Arizona State University, executive Director for the Inter-Tribal Council of California, First Vice-President of the National Congress of American Indians, Executive Director for the American Indian Policy Review Commission and the first Staff Director for the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, the latter two positions appointed by Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota.
“We are elated to honor Stevens, Sr. with the 2017 Leon Grant Award,” said Patti Hibbeler, CEO for the Phoenix Indian Center. “His work on behalf of American Indians over many decades has positively impacted our community as a whole; he is a true trailblazer.”
Honorary co-chairs for the 2017 Silver & Turquoise Ball are Mark Bonsall, General Manager & Chief Executive Officer at SRP, and his wife, Mary, as well as Bryan Brayboy, Ph.D., Special Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs at Arizona State University, and his son, 15-year-old Quanah, a student at Phoenix Country Day School.
Sponsorship and support for the evening is provided by SRP, Arizona State University Office of American Indian Initiatives, APS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Cox Communications, Snell and Wilmer, Copperpoint, Casino Arizona, Freeport McMoRan, Mercy Maricopa, Desert Diamond Casinos, and more.