San Diego once again welcomes the National Indian Gaming Association to its 2015 Trade Show and Convention

The National Indian Gaming Association is a nonprofit trade association comprised of 184 American Indian Nations and other nonvoting associate member. The mission of NIGA is to advance the lives of Indian people - economically, socially and politically. NIGA operates as a clearinghouse and educational legislative and public policy resources for tribes, policymakers and the public on Indian gaming issues and tribal community development.

The mission of NIGA is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country. To fulfill its mission, NIGA works with Federal government and Congress to develop sound policies and practices and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming related issues. In addition, NIGA seeks to maintain and protect Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian Country.

Ernie Stevens, Jr. is the Chairman and national spokesperson for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in Washington, D.C. Stevens is currently completing his seventh two-year term as the organization’s leader, which is a position elected by the member tribes of the National Indian Gaming Association.

As Chairman of NIGA, Stevens represents the Indian gaming industry. In this role, he has worked to educate Congress, the media and the public about the positive impacts of Indian gaming on tribal and nearby communities.

Stevens is also responsible for shaping policy initiatives that have the potential to impact the industry. He has testified before Congress on a number of topics from proposed amendments to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to Internet gaming. In addition to his role as spokesman, Stevens has worked to build consensus among NIGA’s diverse member Tribes and is often quoted as saying, “Our membership is our strength, and we are strongest when our voice is unified.”

He has also succeeded in building strong coalitions with other Indian and non-Indian organizations to help strengthen the industry. In the face of constant challenges while Stevens has served as Chairman, NIGA has consistently defended any movement in Washington, DC against the Principles of Tribal Sovereignty. Stevens has led the Association and worked to protect Tribal Sovereignty and strengthen the Indian gaming industry. During his tenure, Indian gaming revenues have risen from $11 billion in 2000 to 28.6 billion in 2014.

From 1993 to 1999 Stevens served as an elected councilman for the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin. He is a former First Vice-President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

As a respected leader in Indian Country, Stevens also serves as a long-standing board member on the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the Nike N7 Foundation Board, the Executive Board of the Center for Native American Youth and the Native American Advisory Board for the Boys & Girls Club of America.

The Chairman has been recognized for his outstanding leadership and his advocacy in Indian Country by numerous organizations. He was recently inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame. The Association on American Indian Affairs recognized his lifetime achievements in November and he was inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012.

Chairman Stevens received an Associate’s degree from Haskell Indian Nations University in 1983 where he served as the Vice President of the Student Senate. He was a two year starting center and team captain for the Haskell Basketball Team. Stevens also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Mount Senario College in Ladysmith, Wisconsin (1986). He was a three sport letterman and served as President of the Native American Student Council.

Chairman Stevens is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. He and his wife Cheryl have been married for over 30 years. Together they have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

Restoring Respect will be holding its 4th Annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue on March 20 at the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. The theme this year is, Celebrating Civility, and Restoring Respect, in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District and the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement, will present the first in an annual series of Celebrating Civility Awards: Creating Civility on Our Campuses and In Our Community.

All seniors at high schools in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) have been invited to participate in this new scholarship awards program.  Through essays, video, multimedia platforms, or art, seniors are being asked to reflect on what civility means and how can it be advanced on their campuses and in their communities.  One student from each high school will be nominated as a finalist, and the top three student entries will receive cash scholarship awards.  The nominated students will be honored at the Restoring Respect conference and the scholarship winners will be announced.
 
"This is a wonderful opportunity to get our next generation of citizens and community leaders to think about issues of civility in our society," stated Carl Luna, a San Diego Mesa College professor who co-chairs Restoring Respect and directs the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement. "Civic dialogue at all levels of American society has become increasingly fractured, negative and dysfunctional. Our hope with projects like this is to help give our students the skills they need to be more productive participants in needed community dialogues."
 
The Celebrating Civility Awards are sponsored by the United Way of San Diego County, U-T San Diego and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.  Also involved are the National Conflict Resolution Center, Cal State University San Marcos, the League of Women Voters San Diego North County, Point Loma Nazarene University, the University of San Diego, the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and the Independent Voter Project.
 
National Conflict Resolution Center Director Steven Dinkin will be the conference's keynote speaker.  He has directed the National Conflict Resolution Center since 2003 and is co-chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the San Diego County Bar Association.  The National Conflict Resolution Center works with law enforcement and the judicial system to provide and promote collaborative dispute resolution and conflict management services to individuals and organizations.
 
Before coming to the National Conflict Resolution Center, Dinkin served for several years as an employment and workplace mediator at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal agencies.
 
Other speakers and panelists include the Rev. George Walker Smith, founder of the Catfish Club of San Diego and co-chair of Restoring Respect; SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten; Dr.  Mary Lyons, President of USD; Dr. Constance M. Carroll, Chancellor of the SDCCD; and Dr. Mary Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of Extension at UC San Diego.
 
Reality Changers founder Christopher Yanov will be the speaker at the luncheon held after the conference for student nominees, their parents, and faculty and staff from participating high schools.  Reality Changers is a San Diego-based nonprofit that mentors and tutors at-risk, high school students aspiring to become first-generation college students. He recently was named one of the most-admired CEOs by the San Diego Business Journal and one of the region's new civic power brokers by San Diego Magazine.
 
The March 20 conference is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to noon, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. It will be held at USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, 5998 Alcala Park, in San Diego. The event is free and open to the public.
 
The Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue is a product of Restoring Respect, a community initiative that aims to bring civility back to the political process and issues of public importance.  It was established by the San Diego Community College District, USD,s School of Leadership and Educational Sciences, the Catfish Club and others.  The first Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue was held in 2012, and Restoring Respect,s efforts have since evolved into the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement.  For more information visit: www.sandiego.edu/restoringrespect
 
As the second-largest of California's 72 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and San Diego Continuing Education.  The three colleges, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Beginning fall 2015, Mesa College will also offer baccalaureate degrees in the field of Health Information Management.

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