Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane RussellWiniecki is one of Arizona Business Magazine’s “2017 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business.”
Winiecki will appear in the magazine’s July issue, alongside other women of influence in Arizona.
Prior to being elected as chairwoman of the nation in 2016, Winiecki served as chairwoman of the nation’s Economic Development Authority, chairwoman of the nation’s Community Development Financial Institutions, chairwoman of Cliff Castle Casino’s Board of Directors, member of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and member of the Clarkdale Town Council.
Winiecki is the first woman in more than four decades to be elected to the Nation’s highest office. Only one other woman has held the same position in the Nation’s history of modern government.
“This honor touches my heart and I know that it wouldn’t be possible without all of the strong women who serve on our Tribal Council, work in our tribal government and the strong Yavapai-Apache women in our community,” Winiecki said. “This honor is about my community and people of the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Together, as a people, we are honored for our leadership and community vision.”
According to Winiecki, the early part of her career was marked by an emphasis on small business. Two decades ago, she and her husband established Wild Apache Internet Services, a start-up that offered residential and commercial internet services in the Verde Valley. Winiecki sold the company to a larger internet provider in 2008.
In reality, establishing her own enterprises had been a pattern for Winiecki since youth.
“When we launched Wild Apache, timing was everything,” Winiecki said. “The internet was just emerging, there was a need [and] my husband and I had the knowledge and experience. We were groundbreaking in the industry. We had the privilege of providing all of the technology for the tribe, and developing websites, servers and networks for local businesses and providing internet to households throughout the Verde Valley.”
As chairwoman, Winiecki has vowed to focus on issues of relevance to her community, increasing economic and educational opportunities for Nation members, as well as providing better access to housing and medical resources.
As chairwoman, Winiecki also serves as the Treasurer of the Arizonans for Government Gaming. She is a member of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inter-Tribal Association of Arizona, Arizona Indian Gaming and serves as the delegate for the Western Caucus with the National Indian Gaming Association.
Camp Verde Town Manager Russ Martin said that Winiecki making the list is “well deserved” and that offering praise of the chairwoman is not a difficult task.
Martin cited her diversity of thought and willingness to educate non-Nation community members about the Nation as assets.
“She is very well received and has been very clear about [her goals],” Martin said, listing water rights and encouraging Yavapai College to provide more post-secondary educational opportunities in the Verde Valley among Winiecki’s initiatives.
Yavapai College concerns Winiecki in particular, because the institution’s course offerings directly impact her constituents’ future. The newly-constructed Cliff Castle Casino Hotel, set to open this summer, will only increase the demand for skilled workers.
If Yavapai College makes good on recent promises to invest in programs applicable to the hospitality and culinary fields, as well as technical trades, Nation members would benefit.
According to Martin, such benefits would not be restricted to Nation members.
“[Winiecki] has been very polite yet forceful,” Martin said of the chairwoman’s efforts to reengage with the college — an effort that Martin said mirrors Camp Verde’s own long-term goals. “Having her as a teammate in that game has been very important,” Martin said.
Arizona Business Magazine will publish the special edition of the 2017 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business in July and host an award ceremony in August.