Tori Whipple

Tori Whipple portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • Rapid City, SD

Tori is an enrolled citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She currently works as the Program Manager for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board’s Great Plains Native Connections Program. Tori obtained a bachelor of science degree from Black Hills State University and a master of science degree from the University of South Dakota. She lives in Rapid City, SD and is the mother of two boys.

Benjamin Rosaasen

Benjamin Rosaasen portrait
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Prior Lake, MN

Ben Rosaasen received his Master of Business Administration at Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota in 2014. Ben is a member from Upper Sioux Community. He works as the Director of Golf at Meadows at Mystic Lake for Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. He is an Air Force veteran is married and has two cats.

Robert Rainbow

Robert Rainbow portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • New Town, ND

Robert is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. He is from the Spirit Lake Dakota and Standing Rock Nations.

Janie Schroeder

Janie Schroeder portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Grand Forks, ND

Janie is a recent graduate of the University of North Dakota's School of Law and holds a Juris Doctorate and a certificate in Indian Law. Janie obtained a Bachelor of Public Administration degree and Bachelor of Indian Studies degree from the University of North Dakota. Janie worked for the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative for four years and has recently accepted a position with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation District Court as chief clerk of court.

Jacob Davis

Jacob Davis portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Fargo, ND

Jacob is an active member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians located in Belcourt, North Dakota. Currently, he works as a consultant for the Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota (PCAND) Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation (MIECHV) program. Jacob graduated with his Masters of Public Health degree from North Dakota State University in 2015 and was the first graduate of the program with the American Indian Public Health specialization.

Amber Mathern

Amber Mathern portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Aberdeen, SD

Amber teaches Marketing at Northern State University, where she also serves as the Native American Student Association faculty advisor and American Indian Advisory Committee member. She will complete her Doctorate of Business Administration degree requirements from Anderson University in November (2016), holds a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Mary, and a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Jamestown College. Amber is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and resides in Aberdeen, South Dakota with her husband and two daughters.

Marlene Schroeder

Marlene Schroeder portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Belcourt, ND

Marlene M. Schroeder is a Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Belcourt, North Dakota. She is currently employed with the Belcourt School District #7, servicing Preschool through 12th grade. Ms. Schroeder's career and educational goals have been in working in education. Ms. Schroeder began her educational journey at the Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, North Dakota pursuing an Associate of Arts. She went on to accomplish three degrees; Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, Indian Studies from the University of North Dakota, and Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling from Northern State University in South Dakota. Ms. Schroeder has also acquired educational endorsements and certificates in Educational Leadership and Special Education. Her educational background has lent her career pathways in education as an Early Childhood Educator, First Grade Teacher, First Grade Team Teacher, a Bilingual Coordinator, Title I Supervisor, School Counselor, High School Vocational School Counselor, Career Director, Principal, and Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Teresa Peterson

Teresa Peterson portrait
  • Upper Sioux Community
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Belview, MN

Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, is a member of the Upper Sioux Community. She is currently serving as the Tribal Planner for the Lower Sioux Indian Community. Teresa earned her doctorate in education at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is a wife and mother of three children, an avid gardener and preserver of traditional and heirloom foods, and enjoys digging in the dirt overlooking the Mni Sota River valley.

Sharon Pazi Zea

Sharon Pazi Zea portrait
  • Upper Sioux Community and SWO
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Granite Falls, MN

Sharon Pazi Zea is an Upper Sioux Community member. She is currently serving on the Upper Sioux Community Board of Trustees as the Member at Large. She is passionate about her community, Tribal governance and sovereignty. She has experience as a Native American nonprofit Executive Director and over 10 years of experience as an IT Manager for Tribal operations and Casino properties. Sharon enjoys star quilting, spending time with her husband, Gary, her children, and grandchildren.

Giniwgiizhig (Henry Flocken)

Giniwgiizhig (Henry Flocken) portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Cass Lake, MN

Flocken is an assistant professor at Bemidji State University. He has a master's degree in education and is currently finishing his doctoral dissertation in leadership policy and administration. His most recent achievement was becoming a 2006 Bush Leadership Fellow through which Flocken undertook a deep and rich study of leadership styles, along with the history and leadership of his Ojibwe heritage. He served in the United State Marine Corps from 1983-1991.

Joseph Dudley

Joseph Dudley portrait
  • Yankton Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Aberdeen, SD

Joseph Dudley III works as the physical therapy director at Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen where he trains professional and student athletes as well as youth sport participants. In this role he also focuses on geriatric fitness. Dudley's involvement in the Aberdeen community includes service on the board of the Aberdeen Area Diversity Committee and completion of the Leadership Aberdeen Program. Previously he provided professional services for the Keya Program, a South Dakota Urban Indian Health diabetes prevention and wellness program. Currently he sits on the board of South Dakota Urban Indian Health. Dudley has a BS from Northern State University (Aberdeen, South Dakota) in health, physical education and recreation. In addition to his enrollment in the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Dudley is a descendent of the Mackinaw Chippewa.

Margaret Rousu

Margaret Rousu portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Callaway, MN

Margaret manages community radio station KKWE Niijii, which serves the White Earth Nation and surrounding communities. She has lived on White Earth for the majority of her life, leaving only to earn her bachelor's degree in social work. Margaret is a dedicated mother, grandmother, daughter, employee and community volunteer.

Barbara Fabre

Barbara Fabre portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Ogema, MN

Barb dedicates her work life to ensuring that all children receive high-quality early childhood and child care services. She has worked for the White Earth Nation for 27 years. For the past 20 years, she has served as the administrator for White Earth's child care and early childhood program. Barb is co-founder of the Communities Collaborative Brain Development Conference, Minnesota's largest brain development conference, which attracts over 800 parents, teachers, social workers and health professionals each year. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton appointed Barb to the Minnesota Early Learning Advisory Committee, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appointed her to the National Advisory Council on Rural Health and Human Services. While Barb's work-related education started as an administrative assistant and social worker many years ago, she will complete her undergraduate degree in psychology in May 2015.

Melinda Iverson

Melinda Iverson portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Shevlin, MN

Melinda Iverson is the human resources director at the Shooting Star Casino, Hotel, and Events Center in Mahnomen, Minnesota. She also serves on the Mii-gii-way-win Advisory Board, which donates funds to organizations serving White Earth citizens. Melinda attended Bemidji State University. She enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her niece and nephew.

Cherilyn Davies

Cherilyn Davies portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Columbia Heights, MN

Cherilyn Davies was born and raised in Minneapolis by her mother, but has close family ties on the Leech Lake Ojibwe Reservation, which she considers her home. Through her work at Infinite Campus, she manages a Bureau of Indian Education program across 23 states that enables her to work directly with end users of technology in the schools where the student population is primarily Native American. Davies has worked on voter education and registration efforts as a volunteer, and strives to assist the unemployed and underemployed in finding opportunities that encourage their further development. Davies served as a sergeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard and deployed to Bosnia with the 34th Infantry Division. She holds a BS in computer information science and is working toward a master's in information technology leadership, both at the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth).

Sharon Bellcourt

Sharon Bellcourt portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Ogema, MN

Sharon Bellcourt is currently the self-governance coordinator and special projects coordinator for White Earth Reservation Tribal Council. She has experience working in accounting, marketing, business development and federal government contracting, including time at the Minnesota District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which received the coveted Al Gore Hammer Award. She is working toward a business administration degree at the Minnesota School of Business (Minneapolis). Bellcourt recently moved back home to White Earth to satisfy a long-awaited dream of working for the good of White Earth Reservation and her people. She has great interest in business and economic development, and a passion for service work that aids in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Pearl Walker-Swaney

Pearl Walker-Swaney portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Fargo, ND

Pearl is a mother-to-be from Standing Rock and the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She received her undergraduate degree in Indigenous and Native nations studies from Bemidji State University, and a master's degree in public health from the University of North Dakota. She is the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence project manager at North Dakota State University. Pearl has a passion for the field of public health and wants to connect students with opportunities that will enhance their educational experience.

Nacole Walker

Nacole Walker portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Fort Yates, ND

Nacole is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She is the Tribal Education Programs coordinator. Nacole holds Lakota language trainings, as well as language and culture events for tribal youth. She facilitates the annual Lakota Summer Institute and teaches various intensive Lakota/Dakota language courses. Nacole earned her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Dartmouth College in 2011, and is currently completing her Master of Education in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; she will graduate in the spring of 2016.

Alayna Eagleshield

Alayna Eagleshield portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Mandan, ND

Alayna is from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She is a teacher in the Lakota Language Nest at Sitting Bull College. Alayna earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Mary in 2014. She received certification to teach the Lakota language from Sitting Bull College through the Lakota Language Education Action Program. Alayna is working on her Master of Public Health at the North Dakota State University distance program. She is married and has two children.

Sunshine Carlow

Sunshine Carlow portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Fort Yates, ND

Sunshine is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In 2003, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in management with a business focus from Si Tanka University at Huron. She facilitates the Standing Rock Education Consortium and the Lakota/Dakota Language Revitalization Program. Sunshine is an advocate and second language learner of the Lakota/Dakota Language. She, her husband and their four children live in Fort Yates, North Dakota.

Tipiziwin Young

Tipiziwin Young portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Fort Yates, ND

Tipiziwin is a Wiciyena Dakota and Hunkpapha Lakota. She was raised on the Standing Rock Reservation by her loving parents who instilled a strong work ethic and fierce love for her people and community. Tipiziwin is currently a Lakota language activities instructor in the Lakota Language Nest at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, North Dakota; it is the only Lakota language immersion school in North Dakota and on the Standing Rock Reservation. She's served as a member and co-chair of Standing Rock's Education Consortium's Lakota Language and Culture Committee and taught at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's annual Lakotiyapi Summer Institute, which offers language teacher training as well as beginner's level Lakota classes. Tipiziwin is a graduate of Sitting Bull College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Native American studies. She also completed the College's intensive Lakota language teacher preparation program involving the study of the Lakota language, second-language teaching approaches and language acquisition methodologies. She is married and has four children.

Steven Sitting Bear

Steven Sitting Bear portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Fort Yates, ND

Steve currently serves as the external affairs director for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a position that allows him to work on issues ranging from water rights to education reform to housing initiatives. Prior to that, he worked as the deputy director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, a state agency that serves as the liaison between the Governor's office and the five Native nations that share geography with North Dakota. Steve is an avid hunter, and he works with the youth of Standing Rock to promote ethical and safe hunting. Steve served in the United States Marine Corps and is a graduate of the University of North Dakota.

Chad Harrison

Chad Harrison portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Fort Yates, ND

Chad Harrison was born and raised in Fort Yates, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Reservation. Following high school, Chad attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating with an English degree in 1995. Returning home to Fort Yates, he taught writing and speech classes at Sitting Bull College. Over the next 16 years at the College, Chad developed a passion for empowering the people of Standing Rock through education and knowledge. Chad currently works for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as the tribal planner. His hope is to help provide opportunities for the people of the tribe to bring their ideas into reality. Chad is the proud father of a twelve-year-old daughter, Kendyl.

Stephanie Traversie

Stephanie Traversie portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Watertown, SD

Stephanie is from Mitchell, South Dakota, and a 1989 graduate of Mitchell High School. Having earned a biology and psychology degree from Dakota Wesleyan University, she is currently completing her master's degree from Grand Canyon University. While attending DWU, Stephanie was awarded a B.R.I.N. fellowship involving the study of molecular biological factors relating to the onset of Type II diabetes. She was also secretary and student senate representative of Oyate Ho Waste Indian club. Currently working in the field of mental health, Stephanie has certification as an Indian Child Welfare Act expert from the National Indian Child Welfare Association. She is a member of the Watertown child protection team and is seeking certification in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Stephanie resides in Watertown, South Dakota, with her sons, Jaylen and Aaron.

Stacey LaCompte

Stacey LaCompte portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Fort Pierre, SD

LaCompte is the executive director of the Waka Sica Historical Society/Reconciliation Place, an organization that strives to improve race relations, tribal judicial support and economic conditions for various tribes of the Great Sioux Nation. A volunteer EMT and first responders instructor, LaCompte commutes between Pierre and Eagle Butte on weekends to serve her tribe. She was a founding member of the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance in which she is still active.

Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun

Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Bismarck, ND

Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She was born and raised in Cannonball, ND. She is the wife of David Beaubrun and the mother to two beautiful daughters, Zion (8) and Asonah (22). She graduated from the University of Mary with a double master's degree in Business Management. She is currently the director/advisor of the entrepreneurial center at Nueta, Hidatsa, Sahnish College in New Town, ND. She is also the democratic endorsed npl candidate for the ND Public Service Commission. She is a speaker for women's empowerment, native youth, and single parents.

Jesi Shanley

Jesi Shanley portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Mobridge, SD

Jesi is a family woman and has three children and a spouse. She is an enrolled member of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and is also from the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribe. She graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor's Degree in Native American Human Services from Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, MT and in 2004 with a Master's Degree in Management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. She also completed a Native Community Development Certificate Program in 2011 from Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, ND. She has worked in many areas including, education, economics, strategic planning, and business. Currently, she manages a Convenience Store, Cabins, and Campground for Grand River Casino & Resort on the southern side of Standing Rock.

Betty Hamley

Betty Hamley portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Belcourt, ND

Betty Hamley is the director of the Turtle Mountain Entrepreneurial Development Center, a small business development program operated by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in Belcourt, North Dakota. The Center serves tribal members by providing free, one-on-one consulting and advice on starting or expanding a small business, and offers numerous training events for entrepreneurs to attend throughout the year. Betty graduated from Minot State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and an MBA in management. She brings 18 years of experience in economic development to her tribe.

Jayme Davis

Jayme Davis portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Rolette, ND

Jayme works as the Tribal and State Grant Program Director for the Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, North Dakota. She is responsible for budget management, partnership development, curriculum development and instruction. She holds a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Jayme is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and a descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Travis Albers

Travis Albers portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Fort Yates, ND

Travis graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. Travis works as a program coordinator with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in an effort to improve access for health services for tribal elders and people with disabilities. He lives with his wife and their four young children.

Laurie Davis

Laurie Davis portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Belcourt, ND

Laurie is a retired air traffic control specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration. She also taught air traffic control in Norway for the University of North Dakota's International Program. Even though she is retired from work, she remains very involved in her community. Laurie is currently working on proposed amendments to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa's tribal constitution. She also serves on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa powwow committee. Laurie is a graduate of the University of North Dakota with a major in Indian studies and air traffic control. Her parents are Joseph E. and Theresa M. (Resa) Davis of Belcourt, North Dakota.

Kristy Zaste

Kristy Zaste portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Grand Forks, ND

Kristy Zaste is the program coordinator/recruiter for the University of North Dakota American Indian Student Services Office. In this role, she provides culturally appropriate assistance to American Indian students on campus. She also recruits prospective American Indians to the University. Prior to accepting this position, Zaste worked as the education director for the Boys & Girls Club of the Three Affiliated Tribes. She holds an AAS from Turtle Mountain Community College and a BA from the University of North Dakota. She is passionate about promoting education throughout Indian Country, spending time with her family and cooking.

Joseph Eltobgi

Joseph Eltobgi portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Belcourt, ND

Joseph Eltobgi is the executive director of Pathways to Prosperity project at Turtle Mountain, a 10-year poverty reduction effort initiated by the Northwest Area Foundation. The project focuses on economic development, infrastructure and community engagement. Eltobgi received his MBA from the University of Mary (Bismarck). In his spare time, he enjoys golf and spending time with his family.

Tami De Coteau

Tami De Coteau portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Mandan, ND

De Coteau is a clinical psychologist at Indian Health Services. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and also has a master's and doctorate in clinical psychology. Her most important achievement has been developing and implementing the Standing Rock Psychology Internship Program, which she now directs. The program provides psychology interns with unique cross-cultural training that allows them to prepare for work on rural Native American reservations. In 2008, Indian Health Services named De Coteau "Health Professional of the Year."

William Gourneau

William Gourneau portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Belcourt, ND

Gourneau is the human resources director for Turtle Mountain Community College. He has a bachelor's degree in education and Indian studies, and a master's degree and educational doctorate degree in general studies and educational leadership. Gourneau has represented the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa as the tribal board member for the Indians into Medicine Program at the University of North Dakota Medical School. In 2002, he received a Bush Leadership Fellow.

Les LaFountain

Les LaFountain portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Dunseith, ND

LaFountain is a faculty member at the Turtle Mountain Community College where he teaches tribal history. He has a bachelor's degree in secondary education (social studies) and a master's degree in educational leadership. LaFountain assisted as an enthusiastic volunteer by successfully organizing new courses and classroom field trips, and supervised the National Close-Up program in Washington, D.C. This program invites high school students from across the nation to participate in a week-long immersion in the cultures of the capital and engages students in academic and social experiences that include working at homeless shelters as well as hearing bipartisan debates on the most controversial issues of the day.

Shawn Bordeaux

Shawn Bordeaux portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Mission, SD

Shawn Bordeaux is currently the business and community development officer at Sinte Gleska University (SGU). Bordeaux is also the chairman of REDCO, his nation's economic development company, and serves on the tribal utilities commission. From 2007 to 2009, he served on the tribal council. Prior to his time at SGU, Bordeaux was the chief operating officer for Ho-Chunk, Inc., a tribally owned enterprise of the Winnebago Nation that has business ventures in several sectors. Bordeaux holds a BS in business administration and master's in community and regional planning, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Pamela Johns

Pamela Johns portrait
  • Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Richfield, MN

Pamela currently serves as a member on the Red Lake Constitutional Reform Initiative Committee, which is conducting community outreach in an effort to revise the nation's governing system. Pamela is committed to and involved in Ojibwemowin revitalization efforts taking place in Red Lake. She attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College where she studied photography and digital imaging. Pamela also attended Augsburg College and pursued American Indian studies and film production. She plans to begin graduate school in 2014.

Darrell Kingbird

Darrell Kingbird portrait
  • Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Red Lake, MN

Darrell Kingbird is a teacher at the Nandagikendaamin Culture and Language Revitalization Project. Darrell has served as an Ojibwe language and culture consultant to several school districts in northern Minnesota. He is also active on the powwow circuit, often serving as a master of ceremonies, advisor or arena director

Justin Beaulieu

Justin Beaulieu portrait
  • Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Bemidji, MN

Justin Beaulieu is a husband and father of two, and descendent of the Eagle Clan. He is the director of operations for the Boys and Girls Club of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Previously he was a gaming executive and held positions focused on youth services, including work to raise awareness of youth homelessness. He hopes to "provide youth with opportunities to better themselves through leadership development and community connection that will strengthen the future for the community." Beaulieu is an avid hunter, trapper and fisherman. A high school honor graduate, Beaulieu holds an AA from Central Lakes College (Brainerd) and a BA in business and marketing from the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth).

Sam Strong

Sam Strong portrait
  • Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Red Lake, MN

Strong is the director of economic development and planning for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. He has a bachelor's degree in urban and regional studies. Strong currently serves on the board of directors for the Red Lake Nation Boys and Girls Club, as well as an advisor to the Red Lake Nation Youth Council. He received an award for academic excellence from the Cornell Minority Students Association for his GPA during his four years at Cornell University.

Blue Dawn Little

Blue Dawn Little portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Blue Dawn was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the Payabya Community. She is a graduate of Red Cloud High School and Oglala Lakota College, earning a bachelor's degree in social science with a minor is Lakota studies. She is also a Gates Millennium Scholar. Blue Dawn is the current administrative assistant for Lakota Immersion Child Care, the first "language nest" on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She assists children from 18 months to five years in learning the Lakota language. Blue Dawn enjoys advocating for the Lakota traditions and culture and believes it is the only source that will assist in the strengthening and flourishing of her people. Blue Dawn has been with her partner for 10 years, and they have two sons.

Nakina Mills

Nakina Mills portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Nakina is from the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, SD. She is the Director of Student Advancement & Alumni Support at Red Cloud High School. Nakina earned her Bachelor of Arts from Creighton University in 2002. At commencement, she received the Spirit of Creighton Award for her efforts in Native American recruitment to the University. She worked in Tribal Child Welfare for 10 years and is now working on Secondary Education. She received her Social Worker Associate license from the State of South Dakota in 2007. Nakina's commitment to her community is seen in her work in Child Welfare, Education and volunteering her time to work with the young people to get them to see their potential to want to strive to better themselves and their community. Nakina is the mother to six children, four stepchildren, one adopted son and one biological son.

Anna Takes Shield

Anna Takes Shield portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Anna is a graduate of Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and received her bachelor's degree from Oglala Lakota College. At age 23, Anna ran and won a seat on the Oglala Lakota County Commission, making her the youngest Native American woman in history to hold the office. In 2014, she ran for the South Dakota House of Representatives. Anna is one of the founders of the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, a nonprofit organization that invests in young Native American leaders to spark culturally based community change.

Mato Standing High

Mato Standing High portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Rapid City, SD

Mato is a licensed Colorado and South Dakota attorney and co-owner of Owl Nest Consulting. He has a strong background in the practice of Indian law and a passion to serve and assist underrepresented individuals. Currently, Mato is vice president of the South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association, as well as vice president of Native Educational Endeavors. Mato helped found a nonprofit, How 2 Unite, and continues to serve as treasurer of its board of directors. He was the attorney general for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe from 2007 to 2012. Mato has taught American Indian law, American Indian history and sociology at Black Hills State University in his hometown of Spearfish, South Dakota. Mato is a graduate of the University of Wyoming, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business marketing, as well as the University of Montana School of Law, where he earned a juris doctorate.

Viola Waln

Viola Waln portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Rosebud, SD

Viola has been a freelance journalist since 2001. She graduated with a master's in mass communication from South Dakota State University. She is a regular contributor to local news sources and to her own blog. Viola is currently a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Tribal Employment and Contracting Rights Office Commission.

Rebecca Crooks-Stratton

Rebecca Crooks-Stratton portrait
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Prior Lake, MN

Rebecca Crooks works in tribal administration with the Tribal Business Council and also serves on the Tribe's education commission. In 2008, she was elected a gaming commissioner. Active in her community, she works on the annual Young Native Pride Performance and is part of the Dakota Women's Plume Society. One of her initial projects for her tribe was working with eleven tribes located in Minnesota for the dedication of the Minnesota Tribal Nation Plaza just outside the newly constructed football stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. Crooks holds a BA in political science from the University of Arizona (Tucson). She is married and the mother of two young daughters.

Joshua Tweeton

Joshua Tweeton portrait
  • Spirit Lake Nation
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Devils Lake, ND

Josh is currently employed as the Environmental Director for the Spirit Lake Tribe. In this position, Josh works to establish the administrative, legal, technical and enforcement capability for the Spirit Lake Tribe's Environmental Protection Administration (SLT EPA) Office. He is continually working to build the capacity of the SLT EPA department which consists of US EPA federally funded programs such as the Clean Air Act- Section 103, Clean Water Act- Section 106, General Assistance Program (GAP) and the Brownfields Tribal Response Program. The ultimate goal for Josh and the SLT EPA Department is to protect human health and the environment for current and future generations. Josh is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Tribe. In May of 2013, Josh graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Scott Davis

Scott Davis portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Mandan, ND

Davis is the executive director for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. He has a bachelor's degree in business and also holds a master's degree in management. He became a member of the United Way in 2008, and continues to serve by focusing on its diversity and marketing committees. Davis is also a member of the North Dakota Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Advisory Committee, the North Dakota Interagency Council on Homelessness, the North Dakota Workforce Development Council and the North Dakota State Commission on National and Community Service.

Dave Archambault

Dave Archambault portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Fort Yates, ND

Archambault is currently serving as tribal councilperson for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe located in Fort Yates, North Dakota. He has a master's degree in management, and a bachelor's degree in business administration. He has owned a small convenience store in his community since 2002. Archambault serves on various boards as an elected official. In 2008, he assisted with the formation of the Wind Energy Tribes United (WETU), which shares information with other tribes interested in developing commercial wind projects, including the exploration and development of renewable energy policies.

Heather Lawrence

Heather Lawrence portrait
  • Spirit Lake Nation
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Warwick, ND

Heather is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Nation. She is the Director for the Senior Services Program for the Spirit Lake Nation. She resides in Warwick, North Dakota with her family of five.

Lori Brown

Lori Brown portrait
  • Spirit Lake Nation
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • St Michael, ND

Lori Brown is the director of operations at tribally owned Sioux Manufacturing Corporation, where she also serves as treasurer of the board of directors. For six years, Brown chaired the Tribe's education committee, which runs a scholarship program, and also was a member of the Helen Ernest Scholarship Committee that granted aid to college students. Previous, she served as general manager of the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort, the first enrolled member of the Tribe to serve in that capacity; in 2008, she was honored by Great Plains Indian Gaming as casino management of the year. As a member of the TrainND Advisory Board, she represents the northeast region of the state and the Spirit Lake Nation. Brown holds a BS in business administration from Moorhead State University.

Joshua Flute

Joshua Flute portrait
  • Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Fargo, ND

Josh credits his father with passing along valuable life lessons. Today, he has the confidence and motivation to do anything he puts his mind to. Josh believes in the importance of working with open-minded, creative doers; and he is dedicated to empowering people in his community to achieve their goals.

Crystal Owen

Crystal Owen portrait
  • Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Sisseton, SD

Crystal Owen is a methamphetamine prevention coordinator for her nation and a 2011 Healthy Native Communities Fellow. Crystal is the host of the weekly radio talk show Getting Real About Life on the Rez. She holds an associate's degree in business management from Sisseton-Wahpeton College and worked for the college for 11 years as the financial aid director. Crystal is the mother of seven children and has seven grandchildren.

Lorraine Davis

Lorraine Davis portrait
  • Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Mandan, ND

Lorraine Davis works for the Indian Health Service as the financial management specialist based in Fort Yates, ND. In this role, she oversees financial management and budgeting services and serves as a member of the governing body of the hospital. Prior to joining the IHS, Davis worked at United Tribes Technical College (Bismarck, ND) as the housing director, helping ensure suitable living was available to UTTC students. Davis also volunteers much of her time as an advisory board member for several organizations based in North Dakota. She holds an MBA from the University of Mary (Bismarck).

Raina Killspotted

Raina Killspotted portrait
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • McGregor, MN

Raina Killspotted is an enrolled band member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe who was born and raised in the Minisinaakwaang Village (District 2). Raina's cultural seeds were planted early by her father, the late George Aubid Sr., who educated all of his children on why Treaties matter. His lasting lesson is that our voices can affect change if we take a stand, no matter how difficult it can become. These lessons during the 70s and 80s helped her develop her strong role as a public servant. She has worked for the communities of the Mille Lacs Band for 18 years in various capacities. She has served on boards for Head Start, the K-12 Charter School, and Mending the Sacred Hoop. Raina earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Behavior from the College of St. Scholastica and applies her skill sets as a change agent to enhance program outcomes and build staff capacity. She is a wife, a mother of three children, and a grandmother to two.

Melissa Boyd

Melissa Boyd portrait
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Palisade, MN

Melissa grew up on the Mille Lacs Reservation in central Minnesota. In college, she developed a passion for learning and teaching the Ojibwe language. She participated in an Ojibwe language master/apprentice program, an intensive language development partnership for intermediate language learners to study one-on-one with an Ojibwe elder. Melissa went on to help create the Band's first and only pre-kindergarten language immersion program. She is the proud mother of two children.

Adrienne Benjamin

Adrienne Benjamin portrait
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Isle, MN

Adrienne works as the Ojibwe language teacher and curriculum coordinator at the Mille Lacs Band Anishinaabe Izhitwaawin. She teaches the Ojibwe language at local public schools and is working with a master speaker to create a teaching curriculum. She previously worked as the administrative coordinator for the Mille Lacs Band Boys & Girls Clubs. Adrienne has attended Fond Du Lac Tribal College and will soon begin pursuing her undergraduate degree in psychology at Central Lakes College/St. Scholastica. Adrienne is also an alumnus of the Blandin Reservation Community Leadership Program. She is a proud mother of two children.

Phillip Sam

Phillip Sam portrait
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Wahkon, MN

Phillip Sam grew up in Milaca, Minnesota, and is branch director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He recently completed the Community Leadership Program sponsored by the Blandin Foundation, began a term on the Mille Lacs Area Human Rights Commission and recruited Native youth to participate in the Minnesota Indian Youth Freedom Movement. In 2011 he will graduate with a BA in business management from St. Cloud State University. A high school letterman in both football and golf, Sam enjoys fishing, hunting and boating.

Jared Eagle

Jared Eagle portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • New Town, ND

Jared is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara). He was born and raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, living in New Town, ND. He attended North Dakota State University, Fargo and received his degree in Human Performance and Fitness and a minor in Health Education in 2006. He is involved in and serves on several community boards on Fort Berthold and is employed as the Director for the Fort Berthold Diabetes Program. He currently resides in New Town with his wife and daughter.

Cheryl Abe

Cheryl Abe portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • New Town, ND

Cheryl is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and is also of Navajo and Japanese decent. She grew up on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, AZ and currently resides in New Town, ND with her two sons. Cheryl is currently the Assistant Director of Human Resources at MHA Nation.

David Williams

David Williams portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • New Town, ND

Dave is the President and CEO of Missouri River Resources, which is the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation's privately owned oil and gas company. Dave's previous experience in the petroleum industry includes 12 years with the Gulf-Chevron Oil Company. He would like to use his past experience to create a thriving tribal oil and gas company. Dave has also taught Oil and Gas classes at the Fort Berthold Community College for the past three years. He lives in New Town, North Dakota with his wife and 16 year-old daughter.

Jess Hall

Jess Hall portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Bismarck, ND

Jess is a third generation engineer raised on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. His work as an electrical engineer for Montana-Dakota Utilities helped make the region's electrical grid more reliable. He is a math and science tutor in the community. Jess is raising his five year old son.

Amber Finley

Amber Finley portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Grand Forks, ND

Amber is an enrolled citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, and also of the Spirit Lake Dakota and Standing Rock Lakota Nations. She is the executive director of a non-profit organization called Northstar Council. She resides in Grand Forks, North Dakota with her five children.

Richard Iron Cloud

Richard Iron Cloud portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Porcupine, SD

Iron Cloud is the acting director for the Sweet Grass Project of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology and human services, and a master's degree in Lakota leadership and management. He is currently serving on a working group to establish a peace-making court on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Iron Cloud feels this will strengthen the nation by establishing a system that will deal with conflict in his community.

Kevin Killer

Kevin Killer portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Killer is the executive director for the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, as well as a representative serving in the South Dakota Legislature. He is currently pursuing his degree in business administration and social sciences. Killer decided to run for office at the age of 29 so he could encourage young people to take a role in the future of their communities by becoming decision makers. He feels that empowering young people to take an active role in government will strengthen future generations.

Brandon Ecoffey

Brandon Ecoffey portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Rapid City, SD

Brandon was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation. After graduating high school, he earned a degree from Dartmouth College. Brandon's work is focused on media and storytelling. He is the managing editor of Native Sun News, a life editor at Native Max Magazine and a contributor to LastRealIndians.com. Brandon has won awards from both the Native American Journalists Association and the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

Courtney Two Lance

Courtney Two Lance portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Courtney has served as the Oglala Sioux Tribe credit and finance director for the past 10 years. She was instrumental in passage of the Tribe's business codes, consumer protection laws, secured transactions laws and the memorandum of understanding between the tribe and the Secretary of State of South Dakota to establish a joint sovereign filing system. She continues to assist the Tribal Council in the development of laws and procedures for business development, home ownership and financial education.

Dani Daugherty

Dani Daugherty portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Aberdeen, SD

Dani recently became the deputy regional director of the Great Plains Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She graduated from Oglala Lakota College with an undergraduate degree in business administration in 2000 and went on to receive a joint degree in public administration and law from the University of South Dakota in 2003. While in law school, Dani became the first Native editor-in-chief of a law school's primary law review. Dani currently lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and has five daughters.

Emily Iron Cloud-Koenen

Emily Iron Cloud-Koenen portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Porcupine, SD

Emily Iron Cloud-Koenen is the executive director of the Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi, a nonprofit child welfare agency based on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Emily previously worked for six years at Casey Family Programs as a community developer. She is the mother of four children and has four grandchildren. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado.

Kimmie Rose Clausen

Kimmie Rose Clausen portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Martin, SD

Kim Clausen is a former tribal council representative from the LaCreek District of the Pine Ridge Reservation. She served on tribal council for four years. Prior to holding elected office, Kim worked for 17 years at the environmental protection office of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Kim is currently the executive director of the Wild Horse Butte Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that serves the LaCreek District. She is a graduate of Oglala Lakota College and the University of Wyoming, and is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Richard Little Hawk

Richard Little Hawk portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Richard Little Hawk works for the Wakpamni District Task Force as a community development specialist. He served six years on tribal council, spent several years as a tribal prosecutor and currently serves on several boards and committees. Little Hawk received a legal technician certificate from the Antioch School of Law (Washington, D.C.). He is an avid reader.

Lisa Schrader-Dillon

Lisa Schrader-Dillon portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Lisa Schrader-Dillon is health administrator for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, where her responsibility includes oversight of the Indian Health Service contract and establishing partnerships with community, state and national entities to address the health disparities of Native people. Schrader-Dillon established the first community-based tribal research review board on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The board monitors, evaluates and provides oversight to the 27 research studies being conducted on the Pine Ridge reservation. Schrader-Dillon's BS is in psychology and guidance from Chadron State College in Nebraska; she also holds a masters in social work from the University of Utah (Salt Lake City). She and her husband have a blended family of eight children and two grandchildren

Frances "Pigeon" Big Crow

Frances "Pigeon" Big Crow portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Pine Ridge, SD

Frances Big Crow is the program director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Child Care and Development Program and held a previous position with the Tribe focused on youth. As a volunteer, Big Crow works with the SueAnn Center/Boys and Girls Club on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is dedicated to building a drug- and alcohol-free community for the benefit of youth. While living in California, she served on the school board of Sherman Indian high School. Big Crow holds a degree in business administration from the National College of Business (Rapids City, South Dakota), as well as a BA in social work from Chadron State College in Nebraska. She is currently training to become a pilot with the hope that in the future she could serve the Flight for Life program.

Kim Tilsen-Brave Heart

Kim Tilsen-Brave Heart portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Rapid City, SD

Tilsen-Brave Heart is the director of SAGE (Strengthening and Growing Entrepreneurs) at Rural Community Innovations. She attended Cornell University to attain her business management in Native American studies degree. She currently serves as the president of the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce.

Allan Demaray

Allan Demaray portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • New Town, ND

Allan is an enrolled citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, which is located on the Fort Berthold Reservation. He lives in New Town, North Dakota with his wife and seven children. Allan is a tribal department analyst in the CEO's office.

Whitefishwoman

Whitefishwoman  portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Grand Forks, ND

Whitefishwoman worked her way through college while juggling multiple jobs and raising her five children. She earned her undergraduate degree from Minot State University and law degree from the University of North Dakota (UND). In law school, she served as the president of the Native American Law Students Association. Whitefishwoman currently works as a law clerk for the Tribal Judicial Institute, an organization housed at UND that focuses on tribal law enforcement development and enhancement, and the design and enhancement of tribal justice systems.

Roger White Owl

Roger White Owl portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • New Town, ND

Roger is proudly of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Turtle Mountain Chippewa decent. He is currently employed by his nation as executive assistant to the Office of Tribal Business Council Representative Barry L. Benson. Roger served in the United States Marine Corps and graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a bachelor's degree in political science with an emphasis in political philosophy.

Prairie Rose Seminole

Prairie Rose Seminole portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • New Town, ND

Prairie Rose is a descendent of the Sahnish/Arikara, Northern Cheyenne, Mandan, Lakota, and Dakota Nations. Seminole has a long-standing commitment to community service. Her parents, Lynette and Delbert Seminole, were prominent activists in several justice issues. Prairie Rose has over 15 years of community organizing experience. She is a former chair of the Fargo Human Relations Commission, which she served on from 2001 to 2010. In 2012, as a Native vote director in North Dakota, Prairie Rose worked across the state engaging Native voters toward breaking records at the polls and electing a United States senator. In 2013, her nation recognized her as Arikara Woman of the Year. Prairie Rose currently works as a cultural advisor with Sanford Health and is an environmental community organizer with Dakota Resource Council, a nonprofit that works to responsibly develop energy in North Dakota.

Gen Smith

Gen Smith portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Menoken, ND

Genevieve Smith is the director of administration and project management at Common Enterprise Development Corporation, based in Mandan, North Dakota. One of her current projects involves support for developing a long-term strategic plan for her nation. Genevieve holds a bachelor's degree in health services administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She and her husband have two children.

Jennifer Kolden-Murray

Jennifer Kolden-Murray portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Woodbury, MN

Jennifer Kolden has worked at Securian Financial Group in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for 10 years. Jennifer hopes to apply her business knowledge and Rebuilder experience to help her nation as it adjusts to the Bakken oil boom. She is also active in programs that mentor Native youth in the Twin Cities. Jennifer holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master's in business administration from Augsburg College. Jennifer is Arikara.

Laurie Harper

Laurie Harper portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Roseville, MN

Laurie grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation, graduating from Cass Lake-Bena High School. After high school and after starting her family, she went on to graduate from Leech Lake Tribal College and Native American Educational Services College in Chicago. She currently works as the outreach coordinator for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, where she provides educational and training services to clients of the Band's Department of Labor. Laurie is the proud mother of four sons, ages 23, 21, 17 and 7.

Joe Regguinti

Joe Regguinti portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • St Louis Park, MN

Joe is an elected representative of the Twin Cities Local Indian Council for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe where he acts as liaison between Leech Lake citizens living in the Twin Cities and the Tribal Council. Joe works as an employment counselor at the American Indian Family Center, a nonprofit organization based in Saint Paul that provides social services to the American Indian population in Ramsey County. Joe holds a bachelor's degree in English from Augsburg College. He loves wild ricing, traveling, the outdoors and spending time with his son.

Nicole Buckanaga

Nicole Buckanaga portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Bemidji, MN

Raised in Bemidji, Minnesota, Nicole belongs to the Leech Lake Pillager Band of Ojibwe. She is a community organizer but, most important to her, a wife and a mother. A great deal of Nicole's work is on racial equity and the empowerment of the Anishinaabe people through language and culture. She currently works as the Ojibwe language and community development coordinator at the Leech Lake Tribal College. She is in the process of completing a double major in Indian studies and political science at the Bemidji State University.

Rebecca Graves

Rebecca Graves portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Cass Lake, MN

Rebecca has earned her master's degree in Tribal Administration from the University of Minnesota Duluth along with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Leech Lake Area Boys & Girls Club where she is also an enrolled community member. Rebecca has spent her career working within tribal government with a desire to serve and assist the native community. Rebecca also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Leech Lake Tribal College.

Boyd Gourneau

Boyd Gourneau portrait
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Lower Brule, SD

Gourneau is the vice chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He has served for over 18 years on the executive committee of the Lower Brule Farm Corp. Gourneau has also served on the board of directors for Wakpa Sica Reconciliation from 2004 to the present, as well as Lower Brule Community College from 2007 to the present.

Benny Janis

Benny Janis portrait
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Lower Brule, SD

Benny Janis has lived on the Lower Brule Reservation his entire life. A father of seven, he directs the Tribe's Department of Wildlife, Fish and Recreation, which not only manages the Tribe's natural resources but works in cooperation with other government agencies outside the reservation. In addition to completing police academy training, Dudley received a BA in business administration from Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell, South Dakota). He has served his community as a firefighter, basketball coach, high school and college board president and as a gaming commissioner. He enjoys upland bird hunting, golf and rodeo roping.

Natalie Bergquist

Natalie Bergquist portrait
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Pierre, SD

Natalie Bergquist is the president of Lower Brule Community College, a tribal college based in Lower Brule, South Dakota. Prior to this position, Natalie served as the budget and finance director for the South Dakota Department of Health for three years. She is a graduate of National American University with a master's in business administration and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education. Natalie is the mother of two sons.

Daniel Lemm

Daniel Lemm portrait
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Minneapolis, MN

Lemm is the accounting and office manager for Native Americans in Philanthropy. He has a bachelor's degree in finance and is working on furthering his degree in accounting. He loves working for his community and considers it his greatest achievement. He believes it has given him the opportunity to give back to the people, as well as learning about himself.

Ryan Eagle

Ryan Eagle portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • New Town, ND

Ryan Eagle is the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Three Affiliated Tribes. He is responsible for managing the operations and staff of the six Boys & Girls Clubs located across the Fort Berthold reservation. Recognizing his devotion to the youth of the Three Affiliated Tribes, Eagle received the 2011 Fort Berthold Co-Educator of the Year award. Eagle graduated from Fort Berthold Community College with an AB in environmental science and the University of North Dakota with a BA in political science.

Twyla Baker-Demaray

Twyla Baker-Demaray portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • New Town, ND

Twyla B. Baker-Demaray is the project director of the National Resource Center on Native American Aging for the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks, North Dakota. In that role, she conducted the nation's largest health and wellness needs assessment for Native seniors. Her other professional and volunteer work has focused on similar issues of Native American health and aging. Baker-Demaray is a Sequoyah Fellow of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), and served for two years on the organization's executive board. She also chairs the board of the Northstar Council, a Native nonprofit she founded with others to support urban Natives in the northern Red River Valley. UND granted her a BS in environmental geology and technology, an MS in education general studies with a focus in research methodologies; she is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in research methodologies.

Michelle Fredericks DuBray

Michelle Fredericks DuBray portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009

DuBray is the owner of Pinto Horse Woman Consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in international relations. Among her accomplishments is her work with the InterTribal Bison Cooperative from 1992 to 1997, helping to lead tribal buffalo restorations efforts across the country; she was the Cooperative's administrative director.

Anne O'Keefe

Anne O'Keefe portrait
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Morton, MN

Anne is currently the Human Resources Director for Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel. She graduated from Augsburg College with a major in Business and Marketing, minors in American Indian Studies and Theology, and is currently pursuing her MBA from Augsburg College. Anne has helped to develop leadership curriculum for the Indigenous Youth Freedom Project, working with Native Youth throughout the state. She is a porcupine quill artist and lives with her husband and three children in Morton, MN.

Cheyanne St. John

Cheyanne St. John portrait
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Morton, MN

Cheyanne is a citizen of the Lower Sioux Mdewakanton Indian Community and a descendent of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. She maintains close ties to both cultures and communities. Cheyanne's role models are her grandparents, Ernest and Vernell Wabasha. Cheyanne earned her degree at the University of New Mexico, where she majored in museum studies and American Indian art history. She currently works for the Lower Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Office as an assistant site manager for the Lower Sioux Historic Agency. She is the proud mother of an eight-year-old daughter.

Grace Goldtooth-Campos

Grace Goldtooth-Campos portrait
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Morton, MN

Grace Goldtooth-Campos is dedicated to the preservation and revival of the Dakota language. She is a teacher of the language at Dakota Wicohan, an organization based in Morton, Minnesota. Grace is currently working toward a Dakota language teaching certificate from the University of Minnesota. She is interested in learning about how other Native nations infuse traditional governing practices into their modern governments. She is also a mother of four children and enjoys traveling throughout Indian Country.

Vanessa Northrup

Vanessa Northrup portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Cloquet, MN

Vanessa has served as a police officer for the Fond du Lac Band for the past eight years. She also works part-time for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College as a school resource officer. Vanessa has also served on the steering committee Carlton County drug court. She received her associate's degree from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and her undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State University. She is currently in her second year of the master's program in tribal administration and governance at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She is the proud mother of one daughter.

David Tiessen

David Tiessen portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Cloquet, MN

David was recently elected to his nation's Tribal Council, representing the district of Sawyer. David has lived and worked on the Fond du Lac Reservation his entire life. One of his top priorities as an elected representative includes increasing the sense of community togetherness across the Fond du Lac Band. David and his wife have seven children.

Jason Hollinday

Jason Hollinday portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Duluth, MN

Jason Hollinday is the director of planning for his tribe, overseeing a department that is responsible for coordinating grants, infrastructure planning and community development. Hollinday enjoys hunting and fishing. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a BA in urban studies and geography.

Wayne Dupuis

Wayne Dupuis portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Cloquet, MN

Wayne Dupuis serves as the environmental program manager for his nation, managing his nation's tribal resources and advancing renewable energy projects. His previous experience includes seven years as the human resource director for the tribal government. He is also dedicated to the education of the nation's children, serving on the tribal school board for the past 12 years. He is currently chairman of the school board. Dupuis received a BSW from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a MA in management from the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth).

Susan Connor

Susan Connor portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Duluth, MN

Susan Connor currently works for the Fond du Lac Reservation as the employee assistance and employee relations coordinator. In this role, she develops and conducts new training initiatives to enhance management and supervisory skills and seeks creative ways to foster a dynamic learning environment and promote high-quality training. Connor is certified in anger management, workplace conflict and mediation. She holds a BA (summa cum laude) in organizational behavior from the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth), is certified by North Central University as a minister in the Assemblies of God Church and in her spare time appears as Joy the Clown. Connor is a member of Minnesota Employee Assistance Professionals and Counselors, Employee Assistance Professional Association, Professional Women's Association and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Patty Petite

Patty Petite portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Cloquet, MN

Petite has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in education. She has also received her educational doctorate in policy and administration in higher education with a 2004 Bush Leadership Fellowship. She served as the Head Start director for the Fond du Lac Reservation for 13 years. Under Petite's skillful leadership, she helped increase its annual budget from less than $300,000 to $2 million during her administration.

Josh Weston

Josh Weston portrait
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Flandreau, SD

Josh has a background working for his tribe in gaming in various capacities, as well as experience as an elected representative of his nation to tribal council. He currently works for the Royal River Casino in Flandreau, South Dakota. Josh earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Haskell Indian Nations University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Kansas.

Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor portrait
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Sioux Falls, SD

Justin is the health care administrator for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Clinic. Prior to this position, Justin worked in the health insurance industry serving as director of operations for Wellmark BCBS and then as account manager for DakotaCare. He received his bachelor's degree from Augustana College and a master's degree from Central Michigan University. Justin is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Verzella Bauman

Verzella Bauman portrait
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Trent, SD

Verzella was raised on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation and attended Flandreau Public School. She went on to achieve a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Colorado Technical University. Verzella currently works as the cultural outreach specialist for the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault. She also serves on the planning committee for the Sioux Falls Diversity Council and enjoys working with tribal citizens in urban areas to help strengthen their connections to traditional ways. Verzella is married with four adult children and 10 grandchildren.

Donna Ennis

Donna Ennis portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Cloquet, MN

Donna is a licensed social worker, tribal elder and community center manager at the Fond du Lac Reservation. She writes for Indian Country Today and The Daily Yonder. Donna is earning her master's degree in tribal administration and governance at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and expects to graduate in May of 2016. She received her undergraduate degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin, Superior.

Herb Fineday

Herb Fineday portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Cloquet, MN

Herb has more than ten years of experience in law enforcement with the Fond du Lac Police Department. He has served in several roles throughout his career including chief of police, sergeant and emergency management coordinator. Herb serves on many boards and committees, and in his spare time he is an active youth mentor. Herb lives with his family, which includes four children. He wouldn't be where he is today without the support of his partner, who will become his wife in early 2016.

Leonard Fineday

Leonard Fineday portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Cass Lake, MN

Leonard is the legal director of and general counsel to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and is also in his second term as president of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association. As legal director, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of legal representation of the Leech Lake Band and its businesses entities. Prior to his position as legal director, Leonard was an associate attorney at Best & Flanagan LLP in Minneapolis, practicing in the firm's Native American law and business law sections. Before attending law school, he served the Leech Lake Band in various capacities including self-governance coordinator and executive director. He also served as human services director for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. Leonard received his bachelor's degree in political science from Bethel University in Saint Paul and his juris doctorate from Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as in several tribal courts.

Gordon Fineday

Gordon Fineday portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Cass Lake, MN

Gordon is a proud father and husband, committed to the traditional ways of Anishinaabe. He lives his life to make our ancestors and relatives proud. He is committed to the wellness of his nation by volunteering, helping community members, participating and helping in traditional gatherings and serving as chair of the Leech Lake Housing Authority Board. Gordon is currently employed as the executive assistant to the District Three Council Representative of the Leech Lake Band. In that role, he assists in all major projects related to self-governance; economic and community development; human services; and health, youth and elders needs. Gordon is an avid traditional dancer and singer on the powwow trail.

Jennifer Cross

Jennifer Cross portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Grand Forks, ND

Jennifer is an associate judge at the Spirit Lake Tribal Court, located in Fort Totten, North Dakota. Her professional career has largely focused on the Indian Child Welfare Act. Jennifer served as the urban lead case manager for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe-Twin Cities Office, and as a legal assistant and administrative manager for the Indian Child Welfare Law Center in Minneapolis. Jennifer earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, and her juris doctorate and Indian Law Certificate from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

Curtis Buckanaga

Curtis Buckanaga portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Bemidji, MN

Curtis's father is Charles Buckanaga of the sturgeon clan from the village of Pine Point on the White Earth Reservation, and his mother is Carol White of the bullhead clan from the village of Sugar Point on the Leech Lake Reservation. Both of his parents were lifelong educators. Curtis is currently pursuing his degree in indigenous leadership from Leech Lake Tribal College. He is a resident of Bemidji, Minnesota, where he has been a community organizer for the past five years. He currently works in the office of the District Three Council Representative of the Leech Lake Band. Curtis is married and has seven children.

Leah Monroe

Leah Monroe portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Federal Dam, MN

Leah Monroe is the director of the Indian education program at Northland Community School, serving as a resource for students and their parents. She holds a BS in business administration from Bemidji State University, a degree she puts to use as the owner and operator of her own retail business. She also enjoys dancing at powwows and making powwow regalia for family, friends and community members.

Esther Humphrey

Esther Humphrey portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Cass Lake, MN

Esther Humphrey is the program coordinator for Leech Lake YouthBuild, a program that works with approximately 30 youth to help them realize their full potential. She also worked for three years as the mental health case manager, working with patients one-on-one to assist them in living independently. Humphrey received an AA from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and a BSW from the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth).

Benay Fairbanks

Benay Fairbanks portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Cass Lake, MN

Benay Fairbanks is a grant writer and researcher for his nation, overseeing demographic and statistical information to assist with grant projects and community planning. He has also worked for his nation in managing its transportation programs. Fairbanks enjoys riding his motorcycle in his free time.

Veronica Veaux

Veronica Veaux portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 2
  • Year: 2010
  • Bemidji, MN

Veronica Veaux is the registrar at Leech Lake Tribal College and played a critical role in the College's recent accreditation process. She also helped organize the Bemidji Local Indian Council. Veaux holds a BS in business administration with emphases in management and small business management/entrepreneurship from Bemidji State University, where she was named Outstanding Student of the Year in 2008. In 2009, she was named a Minnesota TRIO Achiever (TRIO is a set of federally funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree). A mother of three, Veaux is currently studying for an MBA with an emphasis in American Indian entrepreneurship at Gonzaga University.

Leroy Staples-Fairbanks III

Leroy Staples-Fairbanks III portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Cass Lake, MN

Fairbanks is the manager of the Leech Lake Bank of Ojibwe's halfway house and a certified addictions counselor. He is responsible for counseling the all-male household, which includes crisis intervention. He is currently a volunteer assistant coach on the Cass Lake Bena High School boys' basketball team. Fairbanks was voted onto the Leech Lake Housing Authority Board of Commissioners in 2008 as the vice chairperson, serving a four-year term.

Guthrie Ducheneaux

Guthrie Ducheneaux portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Eagle Butte, SD

A lifelong resident of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Guthrie currently works as the information technology specialist for Cheyenne River Health Center. He is also the founder and owner of the Quantum Cattle Company and a partner in the Ducheneaux Ranch. Guthrie serves on the boards of the Cheyenne River Youth Project and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Ventures, and is the former president of the board of directors for the Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium.

Ryman LeBeau

Ryman LeBeau portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Ryman LeBeau is currently a council representative for his nation. Elected in 2008, he is working to develop a nonprofit entity that would serve the nation. Prior to serving on the tribal council, he worked as a biologist for the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen self-determined tribal fish and wildlife management. LeBeau holds a BS in environmental science from Haskell Indian Nations University. He enjoys the outdoors and playing sports, particularly basketball.

Julie Garreau

Julie Garreau portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Julie Garreau has worked with the nonprofit Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) since the organization started in 1988. She served as its first director as a volunteer, transitioning to the full-time executive director position in 2000. CRYP is dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs. A criminal justice graduate of Huron University, Garreau served as the Cheyenne River Nation's education services specialist for 15 years.

Wayne Ducheneaux

Wayne Ducheneaux portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Wayne Ducheneaux II is the administrative officer for his nation, overseeing tribal government employees across multiple departments. A former rancher on his homeland, Ducheneaux has also managed the Cheyenne River Motel. He currently serves on the Four Bands Community Fund Board of Directors to support small business development at his nation. Ducheneaux is working on a degree in political science and history from the University of Minnesota at Morris.

Tracey Zephier

Tracey Zephier portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Rapid City, SD

Zephier is the CEO/president of the First Nations Oweesta Corporation. She has a bachelor's degree in business management and accounting, and also holds a juris doctorate in law from Yale. She served as law clerk to the Honorable Chief Justice Robert A. Miller (Ret.) of the South Dakota Supreme Court, the first Native American to serve in that role. Zephier was also recognized by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe as the first tribal member to graduate from Yale Law School.

Eileen Briggs

Eileen Briggs portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Briggs is the executive director of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Ventures. She has a bachelor's degree in liberal arts for human services/speech communications, and also holds a master's degree in youth development leadership. She currently serves as president of the board of directors for Ta-t' Topa (Four Winds) Energy, Inc., where she was appointed by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council to lead the Tribe's development of wind energy, helping to develop a 125-megawatt commercial wind farm on Tribal land. Briggs also co-wrote and acted in a Native American breast cancer awareness video, which serves as a public service announcement and educational film written, directed and performed by Native women.

LeRoy "JR" LaPlante

LeRoy "JR" LaPlante portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009

LaPlante is an AmeriCorps legal fellow for Access to Justice, Inc. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology and a juris doctorate in law. One of his most important honors was when he was named ambassador for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in 2003. It was bestowed upon him by a formal tribal chairman, and the honor has kept him grounded and aware that all he does is for the betterment and representation of his people on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation, which includes his ancestors and future generations.

Nicole Pieratos

Nicole Pieratos portrait
  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 7
  • Year: 2015
  • Nett Lake, MN

Native Nations Rebuilders Program (cohort 7) - Nicole is CEO of Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union, an institution that serves the northern Minnesota Bois Forte Chippewa community. Through her work, she provides members financial education services and promotes the wise use of savings and credit. Nicole recently received her master's degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Holly Annis

Holly Annis portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Holly is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, from Cherry Creek, South Dakota. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American Indian Studies and Communication from the University of North Dakota (UND). She worked for the University of North Dakota as the Director of the Native Media Center for many years. Holly earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of North Dakota and then began her legal career as a tribal attorney for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She accepted a position as In-House Counsel with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Tribal Equitable Compensation Act (TECA) Office. This department that was created to specifically to provide the policies and procedures for equal access to funds created via the enactment of P.L. 106-511, The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Equitable Compensation Act. Holly and her son Heȟáka Hokšíla currently reside in Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

Donita Fischer

Donita Fischer portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • donita@indianaglink.com, SD

Donita currently works as the public relations director for the Intertribal Agriculture Council, a national nonprofit working to promote the conservation, development and use of agricultural resources for the betterment of Native people across the country. She attended Black Hills State University and received a bachelor of science in business administration. She has over 15 years of nonprofit experience, primarily working with two distinctive nonprofits serving the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Donita resides with her family east of Eagle Butte, where she practices small-scale sustainable efforts.

Marcella Gilbert

Marcella Gilbert portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Marcella comes from of the Oohenumpa and Ihanktowan Bands of the Lakota and Dakota Nation. She is currently working as a community development extension associate for South Dakota State University. Marcella assists Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe citizens in the areas of sustainable living and economic development. She has received her undergraduate degree in community health education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a master's degree in nutrition from South Dakota State University.

Marc Benoist

Marc Benoist portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Marc is the director for the Office of Planning and Economic Development for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Over his career, he has been involved in the areas of employment, training, contracting and economic development. Marc is an avid supporter of tribal youth and has volunteered and coached for over 20 years. He has served on numerous boards and committees, with the most recent being on the Cheyenne Eagle Butte School Board. Marc is married to Alissa and has four children.

Brad Hawk

Brad Hawk portrait
  • Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Bismarck, ND

Brad grew up on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation. He currently works as the Indian Health System's administrator for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. He works with state agencies to create new or improve current health opportunities for tribal nations. Brad previously worked for United Tribes Technical College for 11 years, including roles in the development office, finance office and community wellness program. Brad received his bachelor's degree from the University of South Dakota in health administration. He also received an MBA from the University of Mary. Brad is married and the proud father of two children.

Wendy Wells

Wendy Wells portrait
  • Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 5
  • Year: 2013
  • Fort Thompson, SD

Wendy currently works as the general manager for the Lode Star Casino in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation. Previously, she worked at Hunkpati Investments, an organization that aims to provide financial opportunities to stimulate economic development on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation. Outside of her work responsibilities, Wendy has served on the board of directors for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter and is a founding member of the Community Coalition Against Drugs for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. Wendy received her bachelor's degree from South Dakota State University. She is the proud mother of four children.

Chris Hall

Chris Hall portrait
  • Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 4
  • Year: 2012
  • Chamberlain, SD

Natalie Bergquist is the president of Lower Brule Community College, a tribal college based in Lower Brule, South Dakota. Prior to this position, Natalie served as the budget and finance director for the South Dakota Department of Health for three years. She is a graduate of National American University with a master's in business administration and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education. Natalie is the mother of two sons.

Belinda Faye Joe

Belinda Faye Joe portrait
  • Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 3
  • Year: 2011
  • Fort Thompson, SD

Belinda F. Joe is the culture and education specialist for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. She supervises artisans and summer students at the Foundation's Culture and Education Center. Joe holds master's degrees in education from Montana State University and Northern State University (Aberdeen). She strives to give community members and youth a voice through the Dakota language and traditional song and dance.

Jill Kessler

Jill Kessler portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 8
  • Year: 2016
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Jill is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and grew up on the Cheyenne River Reservation. She is a graduate of Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Schools, received her BA in Human Services with a minor in American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota-Morris, and earned her MS in Counseling and Human Resource Development at South Dakota State University. Currently, she works for Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School as a certified school counselor where her primary focus has been to strengthen the comprehensive post-high planning initiatives. Jill believes in giving back to her community with her focus being volunteer work with youth activities and service on nonprofit boards. Her board work includes: Four Band Community Fund Board of Directors for six years, South Dakota School Counseling Association Secondary Vice-President for a two-year term, and she has two years remaining on the Executive Board of the Council on College Admission in South Dakota. Jill resides in Eagle Butte with her two children, Lauryn and Damien, where they spend a lot of time with their large extended family.

Mona Thompson

Mona Thompson portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Mona currently works as the general manager of the Cheyenne River telephone authority, a tribally owned enterprise. She is actively involved in youth issues, from serving as a past school board member of the Cheyenne -Eagle Butte school board to her current work with the Sioux YMCA youth programming and camps. Mona earned her bachelor's degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and an MBA from Colorado State University.

Michelle Moran-Walking Elk

Michelle Moran-Walking Elk portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Michelle lives in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, where she works as the program coordinator for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Youth Diabetes Prevention Program. For the past four years, she has also served on the board of directors for the Four Bands Community Fund, a community development financial institute working to expand economic opportunity on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Michelle received her undergraduate degree from the University of Mary (Bismarck, North Dakota). She is the proud parent of a 16-year-old son. She enjoys running; traveling; singing; and spending time with her son, family and friends.

Kendra Enright

Kendra Enright portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Timber Lake, SD

Kendra has 30 years of experience working as an emergency medical technician/paramedic and registered nurse. She enjoys working one-on-one with patients and their families to help them obtain a better understanding of chronic health issues, make lifestyle changes, locate community and other resources, and improve their overall health and well-being. In 1998, Kendra received a Bush Fellowship to attend paramedic school, where she had the opportunity to see first-hand the medical needs of patients. She later pursued an undergraduate degree in nursing from Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She currently works for Missouri Breaks Industries Research in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, as a research nurse focusing on the importance of evidence-based research in improving health care. Kendra lives in Timber Lake, South Dakota, with her husband. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six. She enjoys spending time making memories with her grandchildren, cooking and quilting.

Peri Pourier

Peri Pourier portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Peri is an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She currently serves as the Background Investigator and Adjudicator for her Tribe and is a legislative candidate for District 27 South Dakota House of Representatives. Peri is a United States Navy Veteran with 8 years of military and government analysis experience. Peri was raised with the intention to gain world experience, education and training for the purpose of returning home to serve her Tribe. She is passionate and dedicated to helping her people move forward progressively while honoring the sacrifices of those who came before us.

Paulina Fast Wolf

Paulina Fast Wolf portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • Oglala, SD

Paulina Fast Wolf is an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She currently serves as the Director of the Oglala College Center; she’s the youngest director in the Center’s history. Prior to this position, Paulina worked as the counselor/GED tutor for the Center. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Oglala Lakota College and received the Jeanne Smith award upon her graduation, which the College awards to a student who has written an outstanding biographical essay. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Lakota leadership and management from Oglala Lakota College. Outside of work, Paulina assists a nonprofit organization with the promotion of Lakota cultural activities, such as dance, music, and language. She lives with her partner Marlon Kelly and they have one daughter, Suraya.

Melissa Merrick-Brady

Melissa Merrick-Brady portrait
  • Spirit Lake Nation
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Melissa Merrick-Brady is an enrolled citizen of Spirit Lake Nation and is Dakota/Lakota/Hidatsa. She is currently the Administrative Officer for the Elbowoods Memorial Health Center in New Town, ND. Prior to this position, she served as the Director for Spirit Lake Victim Assistance, a Tribal domestic violence/sexual assault advocacy program. She worked in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy for over six years, and during that time, she played an active role in providing safe environments for children and families in her community. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of North Dakota.

Margaret Landin

Margaret Landin portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Margaret (Yellow Bird) Landin is an enrolled citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. She is currently a student at United Tribes Technical College and is majoring in elementary education and business. She has done work with the National Education Association and sits on the executive board for the National Indian Education Association as secretary. Margaret is a mother, an advocate for Native education, and an activist.

Lyz Jaakola

Lyz Jaakola portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Lyz Jaakola (spirit name: “the lady who knows how to sing well”) is an enrolled citizen of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a member of the Eagle Clan. She currently teaches music at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and has done so for the last 19 years. In 2012, she received the Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award for her work. She enjoys singing, teaching, and making videos to document her culture and teachings for the next generations.

Levi Brown

Levi Brown portrait
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Levi Brown is an enrolled citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. He currently serves as the Environmental-land director for the Leech Lake Band’s Division of Resource Management. He’s spent the last 11 years working on issues related to environmental permitting, right of way, civil regulatory jurisdiction, and partnership building. He received his undergraduate degree from Minnesota State University Mankato.

Lauri Bordeaux

Lauri Bordeaux portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Lauri Bordeaux is an enrolled citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She is currently the Director of the Sicangu Nation Employment and Training Program and has been recognized over 20 times during the National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference for her work. Prior to holding this position, she served as an emergency medical technician, the Executive Secretary for Rosebud’s JPTA funds, and an employment specialist for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Lauri has also administered the JTPA/WIA/WIOA funds for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe for the past 20 years. She has an Associate of Science degree in business administration and an Associate of Applied Science degree in the secretarial field. Later, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Sinte Gleska University.

Katie Draper

Katie Draper portrait
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Katie Draper is an enrolled citizen of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. She currently serves as the Director of Government Affairs for her Tribe. Additionally, she serves as the board Chair for the Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota (NVAM), board member for the Northern Lights Railway Express (NLX), and has held several positions over the years for the Mille Lacs Band including the Commissioner of Community Development. Katie has an educational background in environmental science. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, hunting, and fishing, along with several other outdoor activities.

Jona Peltier

Jona Peltier portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Jona Peltier “Migizi Ode’ Ikwe” Eagle Heart Woman is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Jona is a co-owner of the Seven Stone Center for Behavioral Health & Healing where she provides therapy services and works as a mental health consultant/contractor for area schools, Tribal programs, and other organizations. She currently serves as the Mental Health Consultant/Tribal Liaison for the Turtle Mountain Head Start Program and the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities. Jona received a Master of Social Work from the University of North Dakota and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). Outside of work, Jona is a coalition member for the Tribal Nations Research Group. She is married to Evan Peltier and has two children, Easton and Chase.

Jaime Azure

Jaime Azure portrait
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Jamie S. Azure is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. He currently serves as Tribal Chairman on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Council, and was previously District 1 Representative. Jamie is also an entrepreneur and developed J. Azure Construction, which was one of the first companies in his community to dedicate a percentage of its profits to youth organizations. He attended the University of Minnesota and earned a bachelor of science in business management, advertising and promotion, and political science. Outside of work, Jamie serves on the board of directors for both the United Tribes Technical College and the National Indian Gaming Association.

Cesareo Alvarez

Cesareo Alvarez portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Cesar Alvarez is an enrolled citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. He currently serves as a law clerk/paralegal for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation Legal Department. Prior to this position, he worked for former North Segment Council Representative and MHA Nation Executive Secretary L. Kenneth Hall as an intergovernmental affairs liaison. He also worked for two years for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C. as a legislative fellow. Cesar received a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and plans to attend law school in the future. Outside of work, he plays an active role in state and national politics. In 2016, he was the Democratic-NPL party nominee for the District 4 Representative seat for the North Dakota House of Representatives. He was also selected as an at-large state delegate for North Dakota to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. Most recently, Cesar was appointed to a four-year term to the North Dakota State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Cante Heart

Cante Heart portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • Rapid City, SD

Cante Heart is Ho-Chunk and Sicangu Lakota and is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She is a mother, student, and community organizer interested in connecting resources to the community for wellness and prosperity. She will graduate in spring 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in business, and afterward, she plans to seek her MBA. She currently resides in Rapid City, SD.

Caleb Dogeagle

Caleb Dogeagle portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Caleb Dogeagle is an enrolled citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He’s currently the supervising attorney for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. Caleb earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Montana State University and a JD and LLM from the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona. Before law school, he attended the Pre-Law Summer Institute through the American Indian Graduate Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Brian Dillon

Brian Dillon portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Brian Dillon is an enrolled citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He’s currently the Compliance Officer for the Tribe’s Health Administration Office. He recently served on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council and has spent 21 years directing and coordinating natural resource, environmental, and health and safety programs for both his Tribe and the Indian Health Service. Outside of work, he’s passionate about supporting, promoting, and empowering Rosebud youth. He and his family reside in the Parmelee Community on the Rosebud Reservation.

Alissa Benoist

Alissa Benoist portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • Eagle Butte, SD

Alissa Benoist is an enrolled citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and currently serves as the Program Coordinator for Four Bands Community Fund. In this capacity, she manages the organization’s Seventh Generation program that assists Reservation youth in building long-term employment and life skills. In addition to the Seventh Generation program, Alissa handles grants management, reporting, and partner relationship building for Four Bands. She has over 17 years of experience in implementing programs for Native American youth to allow communities to develop future leaders. Outside of work, Alissa coaches Junior High Girls Basketball at Cheyenne Eagle Butte and is a volunteer coach with the Cheyenne Eagle Butte Ohitika Archery Team. She lives in Eagle Butte, SD with her husband Marc and their two children, Quinn and Coen.

Valeriah Big Eagle

Valeriah Big Eagle portrait
  • Yankton Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • Rapid City, SD

Valeriah Big Eagle is an enrolled citizen of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and currently serves as the Student Success Advisor at Black Hills State University-Rapid City. As the Student Success Advisor, she helps students register for classes and mentors them during their educational journey. Valeriah also started a club at Black Hills State University called He’Sapa Oyate (People of the Black Hills), which provides cultural support for and helps Native American students succeed. Prior to working at Black Hills State University, she was an after-school mentor at Enemy Swim Day School and a SAIGES (Strengthening American Indian Generational Education & Success) mentor at South Dakota State University. Valeriah received a Bachelor of Science degree from South Dakota State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Counseling and Human Resource Development with a specialization in Student Affairs Administration. Her eventual goal is to complete a doctoral degree in education. Valeriah lives in Rapid City, SD with her husband Eric and their three children: Kaymahni (9 years), Viviannah (6 years), and Kyrie (22 months).

Sterling Reed

Sterling Reed portrait
  • Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • New Town, ND

Sterling Reed is an enrolled citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation and currently serves as a Child Protection Assessment Specialist for his Tribe. He has a background in law enforcement and has worked in various law enforcement-related positions for 12 years, including serving as a BIA Federal Police Officer, an MHA Tribal Police Officer, and an Advocate with the MHA Public Defenders Office. He has completed two internships in Washington, DC as part of the Washington Internships for Native Students Program. Sterling received a degree in Public/Tribal Administration from Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College. Outside of work, Sterling plays an active role in the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party and currently serves on the Platform Steering Committee.

Tinka Duran

Tinka Duran portrait
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017

Tinka Duran is an enrolled citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She currently serves as the Program Manager for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative. Tinka is working toward completing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and riding her horse.

Jesse Abernathy

Jesse Abernathy portrait
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 9
  • Year: 2017
  • Chamberlain, SD

Jesse A. Abernathy is an enrolled citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He currently serves as the Child Welfare Specialist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Crow Creek Agency and provides support to children, families, and elders from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. Prior to working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Jesse was the editor of Native Sun News, a Native American media outlet headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota. He also worked as the first-ever Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, serving as the primary point of contact for stakeholder, media, and public relations. Jesse has a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Oglala Lakota College and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California. Outside of work, Jesse serves as a board member for the South Dakota Youth Foundation, an organization that seeks to support youth in living healthy lives and building strong communities.

Lorna LaGue

Lorna LaGue portrait
  • White Earth Band of Ojibwe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Waubun, MN

Lorna LaGue has spent most of her career where she was born and raised—the White Earth Reservation. She is currently leading the implementation of the White Earth Nation’s new constitution. In addition to working with tribal government, Lorna also has experience in the Indian Health Service and casino operations. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration.  In her free time, Lorna enjoys reading, gardening, beadwork and spending time with her grandchildren.

Joe Dunn

Joe Dunn portrait
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Fort Yates, ND

A fifth-generation rancher, Joe grew up in Fort Yates, North Dakota. He served as the first manager of the Standing Rock Conservation District. His public work started with a stint on the community government, as well as four terms as a director on the local electric distribution cooperative’s board. Joe currently serves as a Standing Rock tribal councilman, as well as on the board of directors of Oyate Community Development Corporation, a locally developed community development financial institution. He is married to Cindy Dunn and has three children–Logan, Aleisha and Regan. Joe received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Sitting Bull College.

Ila McKay

Ila McKay portrait
  • Spirit Lake Nation
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Fort Totten, ND

Ila is of the Cuthead and Ihanktowan/Sissitowan Dakota Bands. Her Dakota name is Hintunkansan Wastewin (Pretty Weasel Woman), a name that she carries forward from her great-grandmother. She is a descendant of Chief Little Fish (Sisseton Dakota). Ila has worked in various settings throughout her career—associate counselor to young girls in an alcohol and drug treatment center, editor for Indian Country Today, a training and technical assistance provider to tribes and villages seeking answers to youth suicide, an adjunct professor for American Indian studies, tribal chairwoman, and administrative roles related to diversity and strategic planning. Ila’s formal education includes an undergraduate degree in American Indian studies and business and public administration from the University of North Dakota. She has completed all coursework for a master’s in urban and regional planning from Eastern Washington University.

Veronica Smith

Veronica Smith portrait
  • Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Cohort 6
  • Year: 2014
  • Cloquet, MN

Veronica lives on the Fond Du Lac Reservation, currently works in the tribal scholarship office. She is also involved in language revitalization and has helped with signage that identifies the local lakes, streams and roads in Ojibwemowin. This work led to serve on the Fond du Lac Band’s advisory committee for all Ojibwemowin language projects—Nagaajiwanaang Waakanawendangig Anishinaabemowin (trying to help take care of the language at Fond Du Lac). Veronica also dedicates time to voter registration and election oversight, with service as chairperson of the Fond du Lac tribal election board.

Tina Merdanian

Tina Merdanian portrait
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Cohort 1
  • Year: 2009
  • Oglala, SD

Merdanian is the director of institutional relations at the Red Cloud Indian School. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an associate’s degree in accounting. Merdanian currently shares her time in the capacity of lead consultant of marketing and development for Native Discovery, a partnership with the development organizations of South Dakota’s three largest reservations—Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge and Rosebud—as they work together to stimulate the largely untapped culturally based tourism economy.