50 MIW honoree: Deidra Mitchell

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Diedra Mitchell. Courtesy 616 Media

Deidra Mitchell

President, CEO

Waséyabek Development Company

 

As president and CEO of the 100% tribally owned, non-gaming economic development entity of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Deidra Mitchell has led Waséyabek Development Company (WDC) to substantial growth since joining the company five years ago. 

Prior to her leadership, WDC started with three employees operating within three subsidiaries. Today, the company has grown to a team of more than 400 individuals operating out of 20 nationwide entities, representing a range of diversified operations including manufacturing, technology, transportation, real estate and health care. Despite facing the unique sovereign structure and challenges many tribes encounter in economic development, which Mitchell said often can be to their detriment, she and her team have fought their way to success, most recently meeting every one of WDC’s goals established in its five-year plan that started in 2017.

In 2019, Mitchell also organized an effort to highlight the importance and relevance that tribes contribute to economic development well beyond gaming activity. After she gained the support of nine of 12 federally recognized Michigan Tribes, the group collectively presented its data and contributions from diversified operations, resulting in a first-of-its-kind publication called the Michigan Non-Gaming Tribal Economic Impact Study. The publication received recognition from tribal leaders across the country and inspired many native groups to become more self-sufficient through business diversification.

Mitchell’s impact also is evident at the local level. She dedicates her time to serving on a variety of boards, including the Literacy Center of West Michigan, Grand Rapids Symphony and West Michigan CEO Council through the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

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