Educational Equity Webinar Series: Innovation and entrepreneurship to promote economic growth among tribal and veteran communities | University of Phoenix

Educational Equity Webinar Series: Innovation and entrepreneurship to promote economic growth among tribal and veteran communities

By University of Phoenix

  • Nov 16, 2020
  • 3 min read
Media Resources
About the event

Join us from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST on Nov. 19, 2020, for our monthly LIVE Educational Equity Webinar: “Innovation & entrepreneurship to promote economic growth among tribal and veteran communities.”

This event is free and open to the public.

RSVP for the webinar

As we are celebrating Native American Heritage Month, Military Family Month and Veterans Day, we are bringing to you a diverse panel of speakers to discuss strategies for addressing identified financial needs of tribal entrepreneurs and veterans.

Themes/topics to be covered
  • Efforts to support new and existing businesses
  • Access to capital and connectivity to entrepreneurial networks
  • Connectivity to entrepreneurial networks

In addition, the speakers will discuss the integration of innovation and resources to transform systems while promoting economic growth and generational capital within tribal and veteran communities.

Featured Speakers

Kaaren-Lyn Graves
Project Director, NABEDC


Kaaren-Lyn Graves is the project director for NABEDC (pronounced “Nah Bed See”), a project serving the business needs of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. Graves has proudly served in the public and private sectors for more than 25 years and remains passionate about helping entrepreneurs and business owners alike grow their business through education, timely resources and consulting services.

Graves works in multiple capacities. In addition her role with NABEDC, she also owns her own business, My Business Lady LTD LLC, and works as an executive business consultant and technical writer for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In her previous roles, she was the senior business consultant for the Phoenix Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center, the non-profit extension of the United States Department of Commerce – MBDA. She also worked as an on-call business advisor with Prestamos/Chicanos Por La Causa.

Graves has earned degrees in research and development and communications with an emphasis in technical writing and she is certified in biomedical research investigations, Native American research and social/behavioral research investigations.

Troi Waln
Owner, Zaniya Pro Clean LLC


Troi Waln is Sicangu Lakota of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. As an Air Force veteran, she not only succeeded in serving the mission of the armed forces and civilian population, she is now an experienced and astute business woman providing services to the commercial and residential market sectors.

Driven by her belief in her traditional language word “Zaniya” meaning “healthy living,” Waln takes pride in providing every client with the highest quality service to provide holistic and healthy work and living environments. As the managing partner of Zaniya Pro Clean LLC, her goals include being one of the top 10 professional janitorial service providers in the United States as a Native American Veteran-owned company. In addition to her primary job functions, Waln has been recognized for her extraordinary commitment to helping others build cleaning companies by hosting networking events throughout the valley.

Waln’s work helps the next generation of business owners. She was recently selected to speak at a roundtable discussion with Arizona Senator-Elect Mark Kelly to bring attention to the unique experiences and challenges rural and indigenous small business owners are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Waln is a proud member of Native Women Entrepreneurs of Arizona, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and NABEDC in Phoenix, Ariz.

John Ramirez
MBA, MS/AJS-GHS, USA CSM (ret), dean of operations in the College of Doctoral Studies at University of Phoenix

John Ramirez is a native of Phoenix, Ariz. After graduating from high school. Command Sgt. Maj. (retired) Ramirez enlisted in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer, serving for 27 years. During his military service, he served in numerous leadership positions worldwide. Ramirez currently serves as the dean of operations for the College of Doctoral Studies at University of Phoenix, where he has worked since November 2004.

Brian Ishmael
MBA, U.S. Army veteran, vice president of military and veteran affairs and government partnerships at University of Phoenix

Brian Ishmael is responsible for ensuring consistency and compliance across the University as it relates to military-affiliated students. He is the primary university representative for the Department of Defense and military-affiliated partners. Ishmael leads his team to develop programs, partnerships, policies and operations that enhance the military-affiliated student experience and enable successful outcomes. He works closely with leadership to ensure staff are prepared to provide these students with quality support and information.

A former Army Sergeant, Brian served two tours in Iraq with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) prior to joining the University in 2007. There, he began in the finance department and transitioned to the College of Security and Criminal Justice as assistant dean of operations.

In 2016, he became director of college and campus programs for the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs. He was appointed senior director of the department in 2017, followed by the promotion to vice president of military and veteran Affairs and government partnerships. Ishmael
earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and later a Master of Business Administration.

Ishmael serves as board president for Honoring America’s Veterans, the non-profit organization that presents the annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, the third largest in the country.

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