Thank You JR!
JR Cook has stepped aside as UNITY’s executive director, a position he held since the organization’s birth in 1976. When announcing the transition, JR said, “It’s been quite a journey. I thank the Creator and everyone who has been involved with and helped make UNITY into an organization I’m proud of and have been privileged to serve. I thank Mary Kim Titla, our incoming executive director, for her many years of participation in UNITY; first as a college student, then in various leadership and supportive roles, and now for her willingness to accept the challenge to lead during difficult times. I’m confident that UNITY’s leadership has passed into capable hands.”
Under JR’s leadership, UNITY has an impressive resume of noteworthy accomplishments, each of which in some meaningful way has helped further the founding principle of halting the tremendous waste of talent among Native youth. His unwavering commitment, passion and dedicated effort has helped turn UNITY into a national asset that honors Native youth and helps grow their capabilities so they may more effectively participate in the efforts to bring about beneficial changes within their families, tribes, communities, states and nation. JR has often said that Native youth can make a difference and the impressive record of accomplishment by UNITY alumni and Native youth working through their local UNITY affiliated youth councils is evidence that justifies his belief. JR’s vision for UNITY continues to unfold.
For a prime example of his vision and an expression of JR’s special gifts in action, one needs look no further that the UNITY conference. JR is the perfect host who has planned, organized, and carried out at least one national conference in each of the organization’s 37 years of operation. Each conference has been meticulously designed to his demanding standards to further the UNITY mission in a way that is memorable, motivational, educational, entertaining and fun. Conference participants are treated as honored guests; a member of the UNITY Family, JR’s family. JR’s greatest reward for this work is the gratitude expressed by the countless number of young people who, over the years, have found the UNITY conference to be a transformational event, a defining moment when they embraced the possibilities and moved forward with new and heightened expectations for their future. The annual conference has become one of the premiere Native youth gatherings in the nation and is expected to continue on well into the future, thanks in great part to the network of support, quality and traditions that have come about through JR’s leadership.
JR may be stepping away from the 24/7 demands as executive director, but he expects to stay busy writing a UNITY history, making therapy team visits with his dog Jake and spending quality time with his sister and brother-in-law. And, don’t be surprised to see him at future UNITY conferences, lending a hand and enjoying time with his UNITY family.
Those wishing to may send JR a message through the Contact page on this website.