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After ACD, a new role at CSSS: Q&A with Rollie Gilliam III

HOLLYWOOD — Rollie Gilliam III has set the pace at the Seminole Tribe in its Advanced Career Development (ACD) program – part of the Tribal Professional Development (TPD) department.

As the Fort Pierce-raised 33-year-old graduates from the program he entered in 2019, he has started a new chapter in his professional career. Gilliam now works in quality assurance at the Center for Student Services and Success – a first for the department.

“As the department begins to expand its role in the collection and monitoring of data, Rollie will play an important role,” CSSS director Michael Giacchino said in an email. “This is because data is what tells the tribe’s story. From it, history is recorded, patterns revealed, and plans for future action can be made to both enhance the tribal member experience and CSSS programs.”

Gilliam has a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Florida Atlantic University. Last year, he added a professional certification from Florida State University in “trauma and resilience: level one” to his resume. He also recently earned a certified green belt from the Lean Six Sigma Institute at Broward College – a group that offers courses and certifications for individuals who want to help organizations implement projects and goals and standardize their work.

Rollie Gilliam III graduated from the ACD program and has begun a new position at CSSS. (Photo Damon Scott)

“Rollie has worked closely with each of the programs in the CSSS to learn about their operations, processes and procedures,” Giacchino said. “His participation in management meetings has led to streamlining and the elimination of professional waste.”

Gilliam has long said it’s important for tribal members to participate in government and community organizations. He said his “stakeholder first mentality” is what drives him to give those who access CSSS the best experience possible. He describes himself as the CSSS “franchise player” because of his intense dedication to the department.

“It is clear that since Rollie began to contribute to the CSSS that he has played a key role [in] redefining the direction of the CSSS for the betterment of the tribal community,” Giacchino said.

The Tribune asked Gilliam to share a little bit with readers about his life, education, and career.

What stands out for you when you look back at your ACD experience?

It’s the triumphs that supersede the trials. It has been quite a journey, but the lessons, not losses, have been most rewarding. We have an inside joke in ACD that pertains to the acronym. Sarcastically speaking, it stands for “Anything Can Develop.” It holds true in this case.

Do you have any advice for tribal members who may not know about the program or are considering it?

Two words: proactive measures. From resumes to job descriptions to marketing, we should have these items readily available to counter any probable ‘no’s’ to the entry in our workforce. This is an us, not me, thing. Member-to-member allyship is imperative to knocking those doors down.

You grew up in Fort Pierce. What would you like to share about your family there?

At one point in time, we were the last community to have a reservation associated with our city. This was well overdue yet rewarding because of our grit and grind. Since then, I’ve seen a high level of professional elevation from my Afro-Indigenous, mixed blood family members that have changed the game. I see you, Fort Pierce.

In terms of your new position at CSSS – why is it important?

Demand. Literally, not one tribal member has approached me and verbally inquired about quality assurance. However, the non-verbal cues have always been present. I identified the need and it took off from there. I have a motivation to enhance the relationship between the CSSS and the tribal community so that it’s more authentic. I viewed this as an opportunity to elevate the tribal reverence.

What’s one thing tribal members would be surprised to learn about you?

I prefer administrative work over fieldwork. Some of my colleagues and tribal community members push me toward the latter. I had to fully understand that this isn’t up to me, but those who see greater.

Editor’s note: Gilliam can be reached via email at rollie.gilliam@semtribe.com and by phone at (954) 989-6840 ext. 10588. The tribal members now enrolled in Advanced Career Development (ACD) are Tomasina Chupco-Gilliam, Aaron Tommie, Derrick Tiger and Taylor Holata. The Tribal Professional Development (TPD) staff consists of Kerlande Patterson, supervisor; Kajir Harriott, student and professional development success coach; and Hurvens Monestime, senior specialist.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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