New Hatfield Fellow Selected
Spirit Mountain Community Fund (SMCF) is pleased to announce that Robert F. Ahern has been selected to be the 2016/2017 Hatfield Fellow. Mr. Ahern is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and a recent graduate of Pacific University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with an emphasis on political science.
Each year SMCF sponsors a Congressional Fellowship with a member of the Oregon delegation to enhance the mutual understanding between leadership in Washington, D.C. and Indian Country. Past fellows have served in a number of Senate and House congressional offices over the years to include; Ron Wyden, Gordon Smith, Kurt Schrader, Darlene Hooley, Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden and most recently Senator Jeff Merkley. The Hatfield Fellowship is a yearly investment in strengthening the understanding between Oregon Tribes and our Congressional representatives. By spending eight months as part of a Congressional office these tribal members come away with an invaluable understanding of how things are done in D.C. During the fellowship experience working relationships are formed that will benefit the fellow throughout their career. The Congressional staff also learn from a colleague about the realities in Indian Country and the huge potential for our communities. This is absolutely a learning exchange!
Robert will begin his Hatfield Fellowship in November 2016 with a month-long orientation with the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Washington, D.C. Following the APSA orientation, Robert will assume his congressional placement with Congressman Earl Blumenauer. His work as a Hatfield Fellow will include crucial behind-the-scenes work necessary to pass important legislation.
Robert graduated from Madras High School and while attending Pacific University participated in four years of varsity basketball. Robert has expressed a deep interest in tribal politics and tribal issues stemming from his early years growing up on the Warm Springs reservation. Robert was also a 2014 campaign volunteer for Oregon State Representative Susan McLain. Through Robert’s many years of volunteering and mentoring experiences, both on and off the reservation, he has developed a strong belief in the importance of educational opportunities for all Native American youth.
“I believe that it is very important to have a tribal voice when addressing issues that impact Native Americans. As a Native American I want to be that voice and want to serve as a role model for tribal youth who often don’t see higher level jobs as an attainable goal for themselves”, said Ahern.
Robert aspires to become a tribal attorney and has previously interned with the Warm Springs Government Affairs office. Robert will be Spirit Mountain Community Fund’s 17th Hatfield Fellow.
The Hatfield Fellowship was created in 1998 to honor Senator Mark O. Hatfield’s public service to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.