MESA, Ariz. – United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) will hold its annual midyear leadership conference virtually on April 23-24. The event will engage Native youth from across the country through workshops, breakout sessions, music and cultural sharing.
Participants will hear from guest speakers Kylee Russell (Lenape), an accomplished young actress who stars on several Disney projects and is also a singer, songwriter, and dancer, and Hud Oberly (Osage/Caddo/Comanche), creative director for Urban Native Era.
Russell is a native Californian. She is of Cape Verdean, Native American and African American descent. Her acting career started at age four when she landed her first national commercial. She has more than 40 national commercials under her belt, and is perhaps most known for her role on Disney Channel’s “Jump In!” She has also been featured in the award-winning film “Mississippi Damned,” and has had several guest-starring roles on television series. She starred in “Hank Zipzer’s Christmas Catastrophe” and sang all of the original songs on the movie’s soundtrack. In early 2021, she released her latest single, “Stitches.” Her music is on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.
Oberly is the creative director for Urban Native Era (UNE), a brand that specializes in clothing design and content to increase the visibility of Indigenous peoples. Based in Los Angeles, Oberly’s focus with UNE is marketing and clothing design. Through all of his work experience he strives to increase the representation of modern Indigenous people. In addition to his current work, woven throughout his life he has served Indian Country by working for UNITY, participating in programs with National Indian Education Association, College Horizons, and Graduate Horizons and, most recently, working for the Sundance Institute Indigenous Program to assist in identifying and developing emerging Indigenous filmmakers and their stories.
Registration for the conference is free and includes complimentary registration for two additional UNITY webinars on March 27 and April 9, and a virtual youth event with the National Museum of the American Indian on April 22 when UNITY’s 2021 Class of Earth Ambassadors will be announced.
The theme for this year’s conference is celebrating 45 years of empowering Native youth.
“This is a milestone year for us in many ways. Not only are we honoring our 45-year anniversary, but we’re also celebrating the resiliency of our youth community in what has been a challenging year,” Mary Kim Titla, executive director of UNITY, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to coming together to share our experiences and traditions once again.
The conference will also include UNITY all-star trainers Chance Rush, Robert Johnson, Pearl Yellowman, Juanita Toledo, and Marcus Guinn. In addition, there will be opportunities for youth-to-youth live virtual connections via Zoom during the second half of the program each day.
For more information, to view the draft agenda and to register visit www.unityinc.org or call (480) 718-9793.