My Summer Internship at the UNITY Headquarters – UNITY, Inc.

My Summer Internship at the UNITY Headquarters

NataaniiFor the second year I have served as an intern at the UNITY headquarters in Mesa, AZ. The experience has been adventurous, eye opening, and rewarding as I have been blessed with the opportunity to give back to the organization that provided so much for my community and me.

My first involvement with UNITY dates back 6 years ago with the Kirtland Central Diné Youth Council where I earned my way to attend the 2009 National UNITY Conference in Albuquerque, NM. My first national conference with UNITY changed the trajectory of my life as I realized my own potential to make an impact on the world around me. I encountered so many inspirational people that I still admire and call upon as mentors for help and support. Since then I have been empowered to take ownership of my life and take charge of my community as a change agent to help others.

Throughout my involvement with UNITY I served on the Executive Committee for three years and finished as Male Co-President, working alongside Female Co-President Dominique Lombardi. Youth counted on our hard work and advocacy during a busy time of change and renewal as UNITY made the move from Oklahoma to Arizona. Today UNITY still stands strong at its new home in Mesa, coming off the energy of the inaugural White House Tribal Youth Gathering and 2015 National UNITY Conference, as we prepare to celebrate our 40th anniversary in helping Native youth across the country.

A handful of projects I have been able to contribute to include UNITY programs such as the Today’s Native Leaders national youth leadership initiative, signature and special UNITY events such as the Open House, Native American Recognition Night with the Phoenix Mercury, and Back to School Bash, along with strengthening overall strategic marketing efforts of the organization. UNITY has allowed me to maximize my impact while reaching thousands through its network and events. This impact is meaningful to me as I strive to pass on the same life changing experience I continue to benefit from to this day.

I enjoy working for our Native youth everyday. Being amongst passionate staff and partners that support and believe in the success of Native youth everywhere makes me all the more thankful for my involvement. The ambition of all stakeholders – from the youth, to the administrators, to our partners and our donors – is instrumental to driving UNITY forward as we look ahead to the next 40 years and beyond. What is your grand “moonshot”, zero boundaries vision for UNITY? I encourage you to ponder my question and carry this foresight and exhilaration with you as we step foot into UNITY’s fourth decade of existence.

It has been a great pleasure and honor to help advance the UNITY mission and vision at various viewpoints: as a youth participant and community leader, an officer on the Executive Committee and ex-officio Council of Trustees member, and among the staff as an intern. I can only thank God for the opportunities presented before me and the way my life continuously points me in a direction of service and helping our Native people.

Nataanii Hatathlie, Navajo, is from Kirtland, NM. Nataanii is a former Co-President of the National UNITY Council and is currently a student at Stanford University in California where he studies Science, Technology, and Society with a concentration in Innovation, Technology, and Organizations. Contact Nataanii at

Photo: Nataanii Hatathlie, Navajo, speaks about the Today’s Native Leaders national youth leadership initiative during the recent National UNITY Conference in Washington, DC.