SMC Foundation board adds two new members

Published 10:04 am Monday, November 9, 2020

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College Foundation’s board recently added two new members, Priscilla Gatties and Julie Dye.

Gatties, of Dowagiac, has been employed as Pokagon Health Services business manager since 2014 and was recently promoted to interim health director.

Originally from South Africa, the former teacher came to the United States in 2004 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2016.

Gatties holds a post-graduate teaching diploma in math and science methodology from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She taught physics, chemistry and general science to grades 8-11 and mathematics to grades 9-10 in January 1998-December 1999 at Sandown High School in Johannesburg. Gatties lived in Cambridge, United Kingdom, from February 2000-December 2003.

“Southwest Michigan is where my husband (Jason) grew up,” Gatties said. “I have refocused my career to serve in health administration and am proud to work with the Native American community, particularly with the Pokagon Band as my husband and daughter are both tribal members. I feel it is part of my duty to my adopted country to look for ways in which I can serve my community.”

“Through my work with the tribe,” she said, “I see a lot of the disparities that minorities in our area face, whether it be in health, housing or education. These disparities cannot simply be attributed to poverty, but come from a long history of inequality and marginalization. I wish to be part of the solution, and this is why I would be willing to use my time to serve on the foundation’s board.”

In her spare time the avid runner likes to read, write and bake new recipes with her daughter.

Dye, who graduated from SMC in 2000 with an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in marketing, is also affiliated with the Pokagon Band. The former Tribal Council member said her third and fourth great-grandfathers were the last chiefs, Simon and Leopold Pokagon.

“I retired three times from a career in the electric utility industry,” Dye said, “and now, I stay busy by volunteering.”

Dye is originally from Lawrence, but lived in Cass County’s Volinia Township for 11 years before moving to Niles.

“After I graduated from SMC, I was offered a promotion and moved to Fort Wayne, Ind.,” Dye said. “Although I was not employed directly in the marketing field, I’m sure my degree influenced managers and provided an upward path throughout my career at both AEP in Columbus, Ohio, and Consumers Energy in Jackson, Mich.”

She moved back to Dowagiac to retire in May 2019.

“Education is near and dear to my heart,” Dye said. “This sounds like a special opportunity to serve my alma mater. Indigenous Americans’ skills have been overlooked in many segments of society. I believe I can offer a unique perspective and outreach opportunities within Native communities locally, statewide and nationwide. I have board and project leadership skills and am great at networking to gain support for goals and objectives. I love meeting and working with teams to get results.”

Dye brings more than 30 years of experience in critical decision making in a high-pressure environment with communication and people skills demonstrated by developing curriculum, providing technical training and distribution systems and policies as they apply to jurisdiction and safety.

In her spare time Dye likes fishing, traveling, rock collecting and reading. Her spouse’s name is Marty.

SMC Foundation accepts contributions to existing scholarships in addition to establishing new scholarships. Direct endowment donations to: SMC Foundation, Director of Development, 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047. Contact Nate Swords at (269) 782-1301 or for more information.