Faces in the Crowd: LaFawn Janis
LaFawn Janis is receiving an award recognizing her for leadership initiatives and contributions to the community.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — LaFawn Janis is one of two local women recently honored with the national award “40 Under 40” by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the country’s largest non-profit dedicated to Native American entrepreneurship.
LaFawn was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is a part of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. She grew up in foster care and while attending middle school, she received Student of the Year for her efforts on the Indian & White Relations Committee.
LaFawn Janis, Bluebird Consulting, says, “As a 12-year-old, an Indian/White relations committee, that just proves that there are people who have been trying to work on healing our community and mending relations for a long time. And that’s what I really like seeing now. The Black Hills are beautiful and we need a place to live and for our youth to be able to grow and excel and again that goes along with the being an advocate for education. Knowledge is power, I really want our youth to see that they can get the education and then create their own individual businesses or help the community in their passions,”
She became a young mother at 16 and is grateful for the support and mentors she had during that time. Her background fuels her passion to make the community a better place to raise her children.
“I’m just really passionate about creating a community for him to be able to live freely and among open-minded people and have a good experience, an experience that some of us didn’t have growing up here.”
She has served on many local boards and is a voice for domestic violence awareness and advocates for healthy communication in families and educating students on sexual violence prevention. Recently, she was involved in the Indigenous Peoples Celebration at the Central States Fair and is excited to share information about the Native American culture.
“I feel to help our community have one more piece to help heal, we need places for people to be able to go learn about our area tribes. There’s so much talent in our area that needs to be celebrated and acknowledged, so I’m excited the fair has allowed us to start celebrating.”
She considers her recent recognition an honor and attributes her tenacity to her successes and failures.
“My biggest goals are to increase awareness around the native voice and provide more educational opportunities for the entire community, and also build Indian enterprise development and there’s a few entities in Rapid City have begun that journey so I’m really excited for that. I want people to not be scared … know that with failure comes growth, because you have to keep moving and the next time you might succeed and next time you might not — but you keep on moving.”
LaFawn enjoys time outdoors in the Black Hills, participating in many activities like skiing, hunting and mountain bike riding.
She will be accepting her award in Phoenix on Aug. 24. Local chef and entrepreneur Kim Tilsen-Brave Heart was the other local award winner. You can learn more about the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development here.