kenny smokerKenny Smoker, Jr., MBA, is a member of the Fort Peck Tribes. He has extensive experience in tribal governance, educational programs, and health service delivery. He has served his community in many roles, including as an elected member of the tribal Executive Board and as the Administrative Officer and Service Unit Director of the local service unit of the Indian Health Service. Kenny currently serves as a Health Programs Specialist and directs the Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention (HPDP) Wellness program. He started working in the field of health disparities and healthcare access because of his personal background and experience. He was born and raised in the Fort Peck Tribes community, where he witnessed severe disparities and saw opportunities to address them in a sustainable way. Founded in 2003, the HPDP Wellness program is charged with improving the health of youth on the Fort Peck Reservation, which is home to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. The program’s mission is to restore traditional tribal values and help the reservation community return to a healthier lifestyle. To achieve this mission, Kenny develops partnerships, establishes creative strategies for health promotion and disease prevention, and promotes the importance of cultural values in maintaining health and behavior change. The HPDP Wellness program has grown to include school-based health centers and numerous community-based initiatives. The school health centers employ an on-site nurse practitioner to serve students at clinics located in the reservation’s four public school districts. Several community-based health initiatives have focused on using resources available from external academic organizations that collaborate with the tribes. The HPDP Wellness program’s current partners include Harvard University, Montana State University – Bozeman, and the University of Washington. Kenny also builds strategic partnerships with private health organizations and groups from across the United States. These organizations visit the reservation to provide a wide range of health services, including chiropractic care, dental care, and clinical psychology services. Kenny continues to inspire the people around him with his quiet determination and his belief that we can change behavior and save lives by getting back to traditional values – in other words, by becoming who we say we are. Kenny works tirelessly to increase health and wellness among the Fort Peck Tribes.