UNITY Alumni: Where Are They Now with Dan Terrio – UNITY, Inc.

UNITY Alumni: Where Are They Now with Dan Terrio

UNITY Alumni Update Q & A:  Dan Terrio, 36,  Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, in Green Bay, WI

Q: What years were you involved with UNITY?                                                                          

A:1997-2005 (as a youth) 2011-2015 (Consultant and Advisor)


Q: Were you a Youth Council member or Individual member? If you were a YC member,what was the name of the Youth Council? YC Member – Bowler High School Native American Club, Bowler WI


Q: What is your favorite memory about UNITY?

A: There were too many to count! One of my favorite memories was at the 2003 UNITY Midyear Meeting in Washington D.C., when I was in my first term as Male Co-President.  The area got over 15 inches of snow, which stranded many of us in DC for two extra days. For many of our Southwest Native Youth, this was the first time many of them saw snow, and I recall Hilary Green (EC member) from Wisconsin and I teach many of our Arizona peers how to sled. Everything in the area shut down so we had to stock up on food at the 7/11, so I ate Twizzlers and Mountain Dew for those two days. On the last night, My roommate Brandon James (EC member) and I decided to move into the room of Kristy Dayson (EC Female Co-President), Mary Smith (EC Member), and Misty Airington (EC Member) and camp out and watch movies as many of us had very early morning flights home and we decided to stay awake. Well, the lack of sleep didn’t help because I missed my connecting flight home because I fell asleep in the terminal. I still laugh about this story to this date. 


Q: What were some of your greatest accomplishments during that time? 

A: Being part of the first UNITY group to travel to Alaska to lead a training with Tlingit and Haida youth in 2002. Becoming the first Male Co-President from the State of Wisconsin. Leading the effort to ratify the National UNITY Council Constitution and Bylaws. Testifying before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The most profound experience was traveling to Red Lake, MN following a deadly school shooting. 


Q: What is your best memory about a UNITY conference?

             A: I always described the feeling of a UNITY Conference as pure adrenaline. There is so much work that goes into it and so much excitement that follows. It often would fly by and the next thing you would know is the week was done and your home. My favorite memories include spending late nights at the UNITY Fire, all of the speakers, making friends, Jeri Brunoe and Brian Frejo (always a favorite), and of course, THE DANCE! The best conference for me was 2003, which was held in Choctaw, Mississippi. Because of the remote nature of the conference, everyone got to know each other and we made it fun. But let’s be real…UNITY Conferences are the best!


Q: What do you miss most about your time with UNITY?

A: Seeing all of the friends who became my family. 


Q: What was one of the Native Youth Top Ten issues that you were most passionate about? What was a project you worked towards that addressed this issue?  

A:Alcohol and Drug abuse was one of my big passions. I was fortunate enough to represent UNITY in the launch of the “What’s Your Anti Drug?” campaign which was through the US Department of Justice. This allowed me to get out into various tribal communities across the country and speak about the alternatives to using drugs. It was a great campaign!


Q: What are your educational accomplishments? 

A:BA in Journalism from St. Norbert College, DePere, WI; MS in Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Green Bay, WI; Executive Certification in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 


Q: Where do you work, what do you do and what is your Job Title?

A: I currently serve as the Diversity Specialist for Capital Credit Union in Green Bay, WI. 


Q: Tell something about your job, that inspires you to keep working there?

  A: I work for a community based financial that serves close to 100,000 members and has 430 employees in Northeast Wisconsin. The mission of the organization is “We Believe in Doing The Right Thing. One member, one employee, one situation at a time.” This mission really resonates with me as ‘doing the right thing’ has been a lifelong mantra and guiding principle in every decision that I make and where I align my energy. My role allows me to build upon the differences and similarities that unite us together and help our staff bring their full, authentic selves to work every single day. I am presently the lone Native American Diversity and Inclusion officer in the State of Wisconsin, so it also humbles me to do this work as I know I am representing our ancestors and those whose shoulders I have stood on to help me get to this point. I LOVE my job!


Q: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

A: I was thinking about commods late one night, which spurred me to spend $50 on shirts that had the logos of well known commod products. I have no regrets in this purchase. Team Egg Mix and Beef here! 🙂


Q: If you could be any animal or earthly element in the world, what would you be and why?

A: This is a tough one. I would be either a wolf, due to its leadership qualities and strength. JR Cook gave me a book when I was 16 that focused on the leadership qualities of wolves with their packs, and it has always been an interesting correlation, and something that I have carried with me throughout life. I would also be a house cat, because all they do is eat and sleep.


 Q: What inspires you?

A: The fact that I wake up every morning and get to live a passion. Many people don’t get to do that, but I am fortunate in the fact that I get to. 


Q: What are you known for?

A: In UNITY, I am known for my laugh, funny t-shirts, my passion for our Native youth, and my sincere affection for Kristy Dayson (my UNITY EC Female Co-President 2002-2003).


Q: What do you work toward in your free time?

             A: Health is huge for me. I lost 75 lbs in 2020, so I do my best to maintain that through healthy cooking and exercise. I also love to keep my mind sharp so I love participating in activities that exercise my creative side like theatre and performance. 


Q: Who gives you the best support when you’re having a bad day?

A: All of my aunties from across the country, who have no hesitation to call me out when I am acting foolish or comfort me when I am down. 


Q: What is your favorite go-to quote or song? 

A:My fire up song in 2020 was “Got It In You” by Banners, as it always kept me looking forward in tough times. My favorite quote is “What you step toward, you attract.”