Our Staff

 

Our dedicated staff has an impressive array of legal, policy, training, and technical assistance experience that has enabled TLPI to administer quality programming in Indian country since 1996. 

 

Because we are a Native American operated non-profit, our work is personal. We proudly pursue our mission to enhance and strengthen tribal sovereignty and justice while honoring community values, protecting rights, and promoting well-being.

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Executive Director
Jerry Gardner
(Cherokee

Jerry Gardner serves as TLPI's Executive Director and is an attorney with more than 35 years of experience working with American Indian/Alaska Native Nations, tribal court systems, and victims of crime in Indian country. Jerry has served as the Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute since its founding in 1996 and oversees all TLPI projects and services. Jerry has also served as the Director of the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes, Council Member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR), and an ABA Tribal Courts Council member.  Jerry has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UCLA School of Law, and Southwestern School of Law. He previously served as the Administrator for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA). He has been an appellate court judge for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota) and Poarch Creek Band (Alabama). He served as the Senior Staff Attorney with the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) from NIJC’s establishment in 1983 until TLPI’s founding in 1996. He served as a Professional Staff Member at the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the late 1970s. He also served in legal training positions for the national office of the Legal Services Corporation and the American Indian Lawyer Training Program. Jerry received his J.D. from the Antioch School of Law. 
 

In 2022, Jerry was the recipient of the American Bar Association's Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service to the Section.  Jerry's leadership at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and his lifelong commitment to serving Indian country was celebrated during a virtual ceremony

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Deputy Director
Heather Valdez Freedman

Heather Valdez Freedman serves as TLPI’s Deputy Director, providing oversight for programmatic operations, as well as overseeing TLPI’s tribal-state collaboration work. Heather has been with TLPI since 2006 and has over 15 years of experience working on policy issues in Indian country, with a focus on tribal criminal justice systems. She received her master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where her focus was criminal justice policy in Indian country. She also holds a master’s degree in American Indian studies from UCLA. She has researched and written in the areas of tribal legal and community development and California tribal history. Her experience includes serving as project director for several research-related projects in Indian country, including the UCLA Native Nations Law and Policy Center’s nationwide assessment of Public Law 280, tribal liaison for tribal court grantees in California, and consultant for the Gabrieleno/Tongva tribal recognition project. She is an instructor for the UCLA Tribal Learning Community and Educational Exchange and the series co-editor of the Tribal Legal Studies textbook series.

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Operations Director
Jessica Harjo
(San Carlos Apache) 

Jessica Harjo serves as TLPI's Operations Director and has been with TLPI since 2008. She is responsible for the financial management, human resources and overall administrative operations of TLPI. She leads the TLPI Administrative team providing grants management and administrative support on all TLPI grants and projects. Her background includes over 15 years of experience in administrative management, operations and logistics. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Film, Media, and Social Justice and a minor in Business Administration and holds a Master in Business Administration from Mount Saint Mary's University. Jessica is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the internationally recognized Project Management Institute.

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Program Director
Heather Torres
(San Ildefonso Pueblo, Navajo)

Heather Torres serves as TLPI's Program Director. ​She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law's Critical Race Studies program, where she focused her courses and research on Federal Indian law and the racialization of American Indian identity. During law school, Heather served as the President of the Native American Law Students Association, Executive Editor of the Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance, and Senior Editor of the Chican@/Latin@ Law Review. Her legal work experience includes serving as an Udall Foundation intern for the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs, extern with the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles ICWA Court, Native American Summer Associate at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, student tribal code drafter in the Tribal Legal Development Clinic, and an UC Public Service Law Fellow with the Tribal Law & Policy Institute 2017-2018. During her fellowship, she provided research and drafting assistance to tribal code development resources, Wellness Court publications, Capacity Building Center for Tribes publications, and the Clearinghouse (www.tlpi.org). After her fellowship, she served as Director of Native Student Programs at the University of Redlands. Heather is licensed in the State of California and rejoined TLPI as full-time staff in June of 2019.

Victim Advocacy Specialist
Bonnie Clairmont 
(Ho-Chunk)

Bonnie Clairmont serves from TLPI's Minnesota office. Prior to her employment with TLPI, she was the Outreach/Client Services Coordinator for Sexual Offense Services of Ramsey County, a rape crisis center. While employed there, Bonnie provided leadership in the development of Sexual Assault Response Teams and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs and offered guidance with multidisciplinary sexual assault protocol development. She has worked more than twenty-five years advocating for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She has dedicated much of her work to providing and improving services for victim/survivors of sexual assault, battering, and child sexual abuse, particularly those from American Indian communities. For four years she coordinated the Strengthening the Circle of Trust Conference, a conference focusing on sexual assault and exploitation perpetrated by American Indian spiritual leaders/medicine men. Bonnie co-edited a recently published book "Sharing Our Stories of Survival" an anthology of writing by Native Women who've experienced violence. Bonnie provided technical assistance to research conducted by Amnesty International USA that led to the report, "Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous Women from sexual violence in the USA." She and her partner Jim Clairmont have two children and five grandchildren.

Victim Advocacy
Legal Specialist
Kelly Stoner 
(Cherokee)

Kelly Stoner serves as TLPI’s Victim Advocacy Legal Specialist. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1988.   For the past twenty years, Kelly has taught at the North Dakota School of Law and Oklahoma City University School of Law (OKCU) where she taught American Indian/ Tribal Law and Domestic Violence related classes.  She directed the University of North Dakota Native American Law Project that served clients of the Spirit Lake Reservation with a caseload that targeted domestic violence and sexual assault cases.  In 2011, Kelly was appointed as a Judge for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. She also supervised a project in partnership with the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma that established a SAFE Unit at a local hospital, recruited SANEs and targeted community education on domestic violence and sexual assault. Kelly directed the Native American Legal Resource Center at OKCU where she supervised law students prosecuting Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking cases and representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in civil matters. She is a frequent lecturer for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence and for the Office on Violence Against Women’s national technical assistance providers on domestic violence issues in Indian Country. Ms. Stoner helped to launch Oklahoma’s only tribal coalition against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking- the Native Alliance Against Violence. 

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Director - Tribal Youth Resource Center
Stephanie Autumn
(Hopi/Irish)
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Tribal Victim
Resource Specialist
Lonna Hunter
(Tlingit, Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota)

Stephanie Autumn, brings extensive experience in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs in Indian country. Ms. Autumn has 38 years of local, national, and international AI advocacy and policy work experience, and has presented at various Human Rights forums at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland and in New York. She has worked throughout the country on issues of American Indian adult and juvenile justice, substance abuse prevention, restorative justice, and tribal youth mentoring programs. Ms. Autumn served as the Executive Directive of the Minnesota Restorative Justice Campaign for five years and is a skilled Restorative Practitioner facilitator, trainer, and Circle Keeper.  Ms. Autumn’s expertise includes developing culturally competent strategic planning tools and trainings for American Indian/Alaska Native tribes. She has directed national projects on American Indian juvenile domestic assault, restorative justice, pre-and post-release services for AI offenders, tribal mentoring, and truancy. She served as project director for three DOJ-funded programs for tribal youth which provided Training and Technical Assistance to over 135 tribal grantees. Ms. Autumn has provided expertise/testimony for the MN & SD Departments of Corrections with regards to Traumatic Brain Injury and Trauma Informed Care needs/issues with incarcerated American Indian juvenile and adults. For the past fifteen years, Ms. Autumn has provided expertise to the MN Department of Education on disproportionality issues that impact American Indian youth and communities. Ms. Autumn is the founder of the American Indian Prison Project Working Group.

Lonna Hunter, serves as TLPI's Tribal Victim Resource Specialist, most recently she was a Project Coordinator providing Training & Technical Assistance to 40 tribal Children's Justice Act Partnership and Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Program Office of Victims of Crime, Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation grantees with the National Criminal Justice Training Center at Fox Valley Technical College.  Previously, Lonna was the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Tribal Liaison, working closely with tribal law enforcement in developing a tribal taskforce on sex trafficking.  In addition, she conducted statewide listening session for the Office on Violence Against Women, developing policy for Native victims of crime with the Office of Victims of Crime, homeland security, FirstNet-emergency communications, including working closely with the Governor’s office on the opiate/heroin epidemic. Lonna also worked with the Minnesota Department of Health on the Adverse Childhood Experiences building community health plans to address healing and resilience with tribal communities.  Lonna has worked with state and tribal coalitions- Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, and served as Director for the national Sheila Wellstone Institute.  Lonna brings over twenty years extensive experience in tribal, state and federal policy creation and lobbying to end violence against Native women and children, building diverse coalitions of community and government leaders, and direct service with survivors. 

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Tribal Law and
Policy Specialist
Jordan Martinson
(Lac Courte Oreilles)
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Tribal Wellness Specialist
Kristina Pacheco
(Laguna)

Jordan Martinson, Serves as a Tribal Law and Policy Specialist.

Jordan Martinson joined the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in 2019 where he serves as Tribal Wellness/Legal Specialist. Jordan brings a broad range of state and tribal interdisciplinary legal expertise to the TLPI team. His tribal legal experience includes serving as Assistant General Counsel for the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin in addition to working as social services and child support attorney for the Menominee Nation, where he intervened on behalf of the tribe in state and federal Indian Child Welfare Act cases. Most recently, Jordan served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for Manitowoc County, Wisconsin where he represented the state in child protective services, guardianship, mental health and child support related litigation. During his undergraduate studies, Jordan worked for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division. Jordan received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he focused his studies on federal Indian law, and completed research on Ojibwe treaty rights as well as the interplay between the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and federal employment law. Jordan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a certificate in American Indian Studies.

Kristina Pacheco, serves as Tribal Wellness Specialist and is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and resides in the village of Paraje/Casa Blanca, NM. She is a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor in the state of NM and has over 20 years of experience in the field of substance abuse treatment and prevention. Prior to joining TLPI, she worked for the Pueblo of Laguna for 14 years; as a Supervising Probation Officer (2004-2010), Lead Counselor (2010-2014) and Behavioral Health Program Manager (2014-2019). In 2007, Kristina and the staff of the tribal court began the Pueblo of Laguna Healing to Wellness Court (HTWC). The HTWC was granted Mentor Court Status in 2017 by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Drug Court Initiatives. Kristina also provided training and technical assistance to other Native communities as a consultant. Kristina is the mother of one son, an adopted daughter and a grandmother.

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Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Specialist
Precious Benally
(Diné)
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Director Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts, Tribal Youth Resource Center
Anna Clough
(Muscogee, Creek/Yuchi)

Precious Benally (Diné), JD, is a citizen of the Diné Nation from Northern New Mexico and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Precious Benally serves as the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Specialist. She provides training and technical assistance to tribal communities across the country. Her primary focus is assisting Tribal courts in their efforts to plan, implement, and enhance juvenile, adult, and family Wellness Courts. This includes assisting with community needs assessments and comprehensive strategic planning projects, authoring publications, and providing support for tribal justice program development. She has presented on topics ranging from opioid abuse in Indian Country, the implementation of teleservices for drug courts in rural jurisdictions, the impact of sentencing reform measures, and integrating restorative practices into justice-related programming. Her areas of interest include international indigenous law and policy, drug treatment, peacemaking and restorative justice practices, teleservices, and developing technology-based training and information-sharing platforms. Ms. Benally obtained her law degree from Columbia Law School, where she focused on international indigenous law and policy, peacemaking, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Anna Clough, is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Yuchi Tribes. She graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a BA in Sociology and minor in Native American Studies/Criminology and the University of Oklahoma College of Law with a Juris Doctorate and a certificate in Native American law from the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy.  She is a practicing member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, and has been admitted to practice in numerous Oklahoma Tribal courts.  She has spent her legal career working with Tribal youth and families in both State and Tribal Courts throughout Oklahoma. Mrs. Clough has served as a TTA provider on behalf of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention TTA services for the past several years and has supported the development and implementation of numerous National training efforts to support CTAS purpose area 8 and purpose area 9 tribal grantees. She is a mother to four children and lives with her husband in central Oklahoma.

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Tribal Law Specialist
Catherine Retana
(Embera/Pomo) 
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Senior Technical
Assistance Specialist
Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs
(Oglala Sioux/Crow)

Catherine Retana serves as TLPI's Tribal Law Specialist, working with Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts as well as other tribal justice and intergovernmental collaboration related projects. Before joining TLPI, she served as an Education Law Advocate with California Rural Legal Assistance where she helped protect students in Kern County from unlawful discrimination, suspensions, and expulsions. Her legal work experience includes serving as a student tribal code drafter in the UCLA Law Tribal Legal Development Clinic. Catherine was also awarded the 2016-2017 UC President's Public Service Fellowship at the Los Angeles Black Worker Center, where she worked to reduce employment discrimination and improve industries that employ Black workers through policy and legal advocacy. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law's David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy program, where she focused her courses on federal Indian law and completed research on the interplay of the National Labor Relations Board, federal employment law, and tribal governments. During law school, Catherine served as the Vice President of the Native American Law Students Association, Chief Managing Editor of the Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance, Co-Chair of the UCLA El Centro Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) & U-Visa Clinic, and Staff Editor of the Chican@/Latin@ Law Review. Catherine received her bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State University with a minor in Native American Studies and her Senior Thesis focused on a comparative study of Domestic Tribal Government Systems and International Indigenous Governments.​​

Sina Ikikcu Win (Takes the Robe Woman), Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs is an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and has Crow ancestry and counts among her many blessings, her life companion, family and many relatives. She lives in her home community of Porcupine, SD on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Ethleen provides training and technical assistance locally and nationally to Tribal programs and communities in the area of youth, family and community development; mental health; education; suicide prevention; juvenile justice and cultural development. She is a past Bush Foundation Fellow, serves on the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society Board of Directors, Anpo Wicahpi (Morning Star) Pine Ridge Girls’ Preparatory School Board of Directors, and the Rosalyn Carter Mental Health Task Force.  Ethleen is a past member of the Bureau of Indian Education Advisory Committee for Children with Exceptional Education Needs and the First Nations Behavioral Health Association.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Fort Lewis College; a Master of Science degree in Counseling and Human Resources Development from South Dakota State University and is currently a doctoral student.  Ethleen considers herself a lifelong learner of human development with focus on cultural and indigenous traditional teachings.  

Senior Program Specialist 
Art Martinez
 (Chumash)
Program Support Specialist
Marlon Footracer
(Diné )

Art Martinez is a clinical psychologist who serves as TLPI's Senior Program Specialist. Most recently, Art served as the clinical psychologist and Head of Service of the Shingle Springs Tribal Health Project. Art previously served as the executive clinical director of The Child & Family Institute, a principal Mental Health contractor for Sacramento County Child Protective and Children’s Mental Health Services. He founded and directed the Washoe Family Trauma Healing Center in Gardnerville, Nevada; which served as the primary provider of mental health and child assessments for dependency matters for Tribal court jurisdictions in the State of Nevada. Art has served as a trainer and consultant in culturally competent evaluation and program development. In 1999 Art was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human services to the National Advisory Council for SAMHSA and the Center for Mental Health Services. Over the past thirty years he has worked for tribal governments and organizations in the development and provision of services to children and families. He is a past Director of the department of Marriage, Child and Family therapy at the San Diego Campus of Alliant University as well as Director of Counseling and Psychological Services for UC Merced. Art has served as a nationally known consultant in issues involving Native Americans, Native American Family Dynamics, Indian Child Welfare, Native American Child Development, and Native American Traditional values and health interventions

Marlon Footracer, Diné, Water-Flows-Together, born for One-Who-Walks-Around-You clan serves as TLPI's Program Support Specialist. Marlon was raised in Tsé Síaní (Lupton, AZ).  He attended Stanford University where he majored in Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry.  While at Stanford, he co-founded the Stanford Native American Poets, co-instructed a course on contemporary Native Poetry, and participated in the performance arts and theater programs. He also worked at the Stanford Alumni Association in the Native American Initiative and helped organize Stanford’s first ever conference, “Community, Diversity and Excellence: Celebrating Stanford's Minority Alumni.” In 2011, Marlon served as staff support for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit as well as then Secretary Clinton’s Women in the Economy Summit. He has worked as a consultant and project manager for indigenous art projects and artists, such as Matika Wilbur’s Project 562 in 2014. In his personal creative work, he was named the Taos Writer’s Conference Native American Writer-In-Residence Award recipient in 2015. He actively contributes to creative writing journals and spoken arts projects. Most recently, he worked as a non-profit strategist and consultant for development and capacity building, specifically focusing on non-profits that work to end homelessness in New Mexico/Navajo Nation border towns.  

Bookkeeper
Chad Jackson 
(Cocopah)
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Tribal Research Specialist
Jeremy Braithwaite 

Chad Jackson serves as TLPI's Bookkeeper. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on financial accounting from California State University Dominguez Hills, magna cum laude. After graduating, he wanted to work with the Native American Community and received his first job at United American Indian Involvement, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA. In order to gain more experience, he joined a corporate advertising company where his duties included financial accounting and analysis. After a few years in the corporate world, he wanted to work with the Native community again. When the opportunity to work for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute presented itself, he was very happy to work with a non-profit focused on Native American issues.

Jeremy Braithwaite, PhD is a doctoral level research scientist and evaluator specializing in tribal justice systems, violence against women, and community-based research. As a research consultant, he assists with research, evaluation, and learning activities focused on Indian child welfare, child maltreatment, and law enforcement in Indian Country. For the Center for Native Child and Family Resilience Project, he co-developed a literature review of promising tribally-created intervention/prevention efforts geared toward AI/AN child maltreatment. He is trained in both tribally-driven participatory research methods, as well as the culturally-responsive Indigenous evaluation model(CRIE).  Using these methods, he conducted the first tribally-driven community study of sexual violence among Yup'ik Eskimo women in Bristol Bay, Alaska. He has published extensively on this topic and also co-authored a textbook on sex crimes and sex offenders. 

Tribal Courts Specialist
Chia Halpern Beetso
(Spirit Lake Dakota)
Child Welfare Legal Specialist
Suzanne Garcia

Chia Halpern Beetso serves as TLPI's Tribal Court Specialist and has experience working with tribal courts, federal Indian policy and tribal law. She received a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Prior to coming to TLPI, she was a Deputy Prosecutor for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and has prosecuted a variety of criminal matters, including domestic violence, in tribal court. In addition, Chia has provided training and technical assistance (T/TA) to tribal healing to wellness courts and has coordinated T/TA efforts on this front nationwide. Chia has also researched, drafted and presented TLPI resources on Tribal Law and Order Act and Violence Against Women Act implementation.

Suzanne Garcia serves as TLPI’s Tribal Child Welfare Legal Specialist. She provides training and technical assistance on tribal child welfare agencies and related topics. Most recently, she served as the Assistant General Counsel for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California for over seven years. In that role, she worked extensively with child welfare issues, including negotiating tribal-county agreements, developing policies and procedures, and extensive work with the Tribal Title IV-E development grant, Tribal Court Improvement grant, and Children’s Justice Act grant. Suzanne represented the Tribe in ICWA child welfare proceedings in state courts and child dependency cases in Washoe tribal court. She also developed and delivered both written and oral testimony in response to requests for consultation from ACF, IHS, BIA, and the DOJ. As a representative of the Washoe Tribe, Suzanne provided excellent peer-to-peer information sharing with tribes throughout the country about ‘lessons learned,’ and offering insight to the Washoe tribal experience in developing Tribal IV-E plans. Suzanne has coordinated several tribal gatherings focused on tribal access to Title IV-E direct funding. Suzanne holds a Jurisprudence Doctor degree from the University of Arizona College of Law and an Applied Baccalaureate degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Davis.

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Program Assistant
Cindy Wlasowich
(Sicangu/Oglala Lakota)
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Program Coordinator
Laura Smith

Cindy Wlasowich serves as a Program Assistant.  Cindy spent over a decade working in the entertainment industry before beginning her second career in Native non-profit work.  She has worked with several direct service Native non-profits in Los Angeles since 2006, and will be receiving her B.A in Applied Psychology from Mount Saint Mary’s University in 2017 years end. Cindy is Sicangu/Oglala Lakota and an enrolled member of the Sicangu Nation.

Laura Smith serves as a Program Coordinator, bringing experience in project coordination and research administration. She completed her BA in Psychology at Vassar College in 2014 with a correlate in Sustainability. Upon graduating, Laura served as Project Manager for the World Well-Being Project, a multi-disciplinary research grant based out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center. At Penn, she also participated in the Non-Traditional Graduate Studies program and served as a Research Assistant for the Political Science Department. Laura is currently training to be a practitioner in PsychoNeuroEnergetics.

Training and Technical Assistance Specialist
Jacob Metoxen 
(Oneida)
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Program Assistant
Abby Chavez

Jacob Metoxen (Oneida), Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, Tribal Law and Policy Institute, Jacob Metoxen is from Wisconsin and has served as a tribal prosecutor in New Mexico. He completed his Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Master in Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona, and Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona.  Jacob is interested in supporting Tribal communities with the expansion of their community justice systems. Jacob has served as a consultant to the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and supported the development of training opportunities for OJJDP Tribal Grantees in the areas of data collection and management, juvenile healing to wellness court planning and implementation, and tribal state collaboration. Jacob has additionally provided education presentations related tribal justice system development through the National Criminal Justice Training Center. Jacob has extensive experience with research, writing, and critical analysis for Tribal community projects and has served as an senior policy advisor to tribal governments. 

Abby Chavez serves as a Program Assistant. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and then went on to attend law school at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she graduated in 2016. She took some time off after law school to spend time at home with her two kids, Nora and Christopher. Abby has over 10 years’ experience in the customer service industry, which is where her dedication for people comes from. She interned with Fredrikson and Byron working on a nonprofit startup, The Wolves Den, a culturally based group residential housing program for American Indian women receiving methadone treatment. This is where her passion for nonprofits was born. She has also interned with Wills for Heroes, providing essential legal documents free of charge to our first responders. Abby’s most recent internship was with the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Ombudsman Office where she gained alternative dispute resolution experience. Outside of work, she loves cheering on all Minnesota sports teams and chasing her two children around.

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Training and Technical Assistance Specialist
Teresa Nord
(Descendant of Diné and Indigenous Peoples
of Mexico
)
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Program Assistant
Antonia Medina
(Diné)

Teresa Nord serves as a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist for the Tribal Youth Resource Center at TLPI. She has also served as a parent advocate and case manager for the Indian Child Welfare Law Center in Minneapolis, MN and a reentry coordinator for justice involved women in Minnesota with the goals of healing and family and community reunification. Teresa has been a volunteer and community organizer on a variety of issues including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and community safety and violence reduction in the Twin Cities.

Antonia Medina serves as a Program Assistant. Antonia is a member of the Navajo Nation and is from Chinle, Arizona, located on the Navajo reservation. She enlisted into the United States Air Force in April 2009, completing 8 years of active duty. She is currently an Air Force Reserves member, completing a total of over 12 years of service. While in the Air Force, Antonia has served as an advocate for victims of sexual assault, an honor guardsman and trainer, a mentor to Air Force ROTC cadets at the Virginia Military Institute, and the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Administration Management. She is currently achieving an Associates of Applied Science degree in Business Administration from the Community College of the Air Force while working toward a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice with a certificate in Cognitive Studies at the University of Colorado. She aspires to achieve a master’s degree in forensic psychology. She currently resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband and her twin sons, where she actively advocates for the indigenous communities of Colorado.

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Program Assistant
Janice Thompson
(Diné)
Webmaster
Lou Sgroi

Janice Thompson, Diné, Tł’izí łání (Manygoats), born for Tábąąhá (Edgewater) serves as a Program Assistant. She is from Jaysho (Buzzard Springs) located within the community of Dilkon, Arizona on the southwestern region of the Navajo Nation. Janice attended Fort Lewis College where she received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Sociology. Prior to coming to TLPI, she worked with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and the Navajo Nation Department of Family Services.

Lou Sgroi serves as TLPI's Webmaster and Computer Technician. He has worked with TLPI for over 10 years and has developed and maintained the Tribal Court Clearinghouse website and numerous other websites. He designs and develops all of TLPI’s national and regional conference websites. These websites provide extensive links to additional information that will facilitate tribal justice utilization of technological innovations and the vast information available on the internet.

Comptroller 
Uno Lawthong

Uno Lawthong serves as TLPI's Comptroller. He moved to Los Angeles from Bangkok, Thailand for high school and college. He studied Economics at University of California Irvine and proceeded to work in fast-pace start-up environment, accounting and assuring integrity of financial information. Uno recently completed all four-part CPA examination. He is passionate about positive social change, music and art. He loves to go hiking and Yoga with his fiancé and two dogs. Recently he decided to enter the next Marathon(whenever it may be) and began training for it. In his free and lazy time, he loves to read while John Coltrane is playing in the background.

Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes Staff

 

While TLPI serves as the umbrella organization for numerous projects, one of our largest projects is the Capacity Building Center for Tribes.  This project builds on the experience from TLPI’s previous child welfare technical assistance center, the National Resource Center for Tribes, a project that concluded after a 5 year grant period.

 

A new system – the Capacity Building Collaborative – was established in October 2014 and is comprised of: The Center for States, Center for Tribes, and Center for Courts. Instead of managing the Center for Tribes, TLPI is now a major partner and subcontractor with the University of Denver which holds the Center’s cooperative agreement. TLPI and the Center for Tribes project team provides the direct capacity building services with tribal child welfare systems, coordinates guidance from a national advisory committee and support of a national pool of child welfare consultants.

Be sure to visit the Center for Tribe's Tribal Child Welfare Information Exchange for the latest news and resources, including a tribal ICWA managers peer-to-peer network.

Capacity Building Center for Tribes Project Director
Nadja Jones
(Comanche/Onondaga)
Tribal Child Welfare and Permanency Planning Specialist
Ann M. Baker

Nadja Jones (Comanche/Onondaga) serves as the new Capacity Building Center for Tribes Project Director. Her career has centered on meeting tribal needs through ICWA advocacy, social services policy enhancement, and tribal/state system practical improvements. She received her MSW from Arizona State University (1997) and was integral in data evaluation for increased funding for Arizona ICWA foster placements. Her professional values are grounded in respect for tribal sovereignty, interdependence, and building consensus. Nadja’s hometown is now Portland, Oregon. She enjoys being active and engaged with nature, her children, and cultural traditional practices.  

Ann’s experience includes more than 30 years working in education and child welfare in Indian country. She was a liaison between the Native American community and the public-school system on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation where she grew up. It was there she began her child welfare career with the state of Montana as a Child Protection Specialist. Ann’s experience includes child protection investigation, safety assessment, case management, Family Group Decision Making, permanency planning, supervision and management.
 
Ann assists Tribal communities in building capacity around their child welfare programs. She believes a child welfare system that serves the best interests of children is family-centered and community-based. She likes to facilitate conversations and collaborate with others.
 
Ann holds a Master of Arts in Education from Lesley University and a Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Engagement from Antioch Midwest.

Capacity Building Coordination Specialist
Elizabeth Deserly
(Kickapoo)
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Administrative Manager
Maria Alidio

Elizabeth Deserly serves as the Capacity Building Coordination Specialist for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. She is responsible for coordinating capacity building technical assistance activities as well as being the point person for Tribes who wish to access services from the Center for Tribes. Elizabeth previously served as the Special Projects Assistant and Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the National Resource Center for Tribes. Prior to her work with the NRC4Tribes, she worked as a technical assistance coordinator for the Indian Child and Family Resource Center based in Helena, MT. Elizabeth is also a photographer and videographer, as well as a photography business owner for the past 15 years. Elizabeth is a graduate in Photographic Communication from Northwest College, Wyoming. She and her husband, Matt (Assiniboine), are the parents of five children.

Maria Alidio serves as the Administrative Manager for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. She joined the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in December 2009 as a Program Specialist bringing in with her over 25 years of office administrative experience in the fields of Educational Research Studies, Internal Medicine, and Development Construction. She also proudly served 10 years in the United States Naval Reserve, under the Commander Naval Forces Korea Headquarters as a Yeoman 2nd Class Petty Officer and was decorated with the United States Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, by Rear Admiral Daniel S. Mastagni for establishing a comprehensive muster report which ensured that all personnel were accounted for during a period of high tension in Korea. Maria works closely with the Center for Tribes Program Services Lead to manage administrative functions, assists with financial tasks, technology tasks, and coordinates the day-to-day office operations. She also manages the logistical functions as they relate to the grant/contract deliverables. Maria and her wife Margaret enjoys living the nomadic life with their doggie daughter, Lucy.

Tailored Services Projects Director, Capacity Building Center for Tribes
Rebekah Main
(Wasco & Warm Springs)
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Tailored Services Administrative Director, Capacity Building Center for Tribes
Cori F. Matthew
(Salish & Blackfeet)

Rebekah “ Becky” Main is a Wasco/Warm Springs tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS) in Oregon. Becky was employed with her Tribe first as the Family Intake Coordinator  and then promoted to the CPS Director.  Becky was a NRC4Tribes Consultant doing work in Indian Country and when she was the CPS Director they had done Peer to Peer TA Assistance with other Tribes who wanted assistance in developing their Tribal Child Welfare Program.  Becky recently comes from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) as a Tribal Child Welfare Specialist who worked with tribes and states on recruitment, foster care, and adoption to either develop and or enhance their program services (3 years).  Becky is now the Tribal Child Welfare Specialist and Foster Care Specialist for the Capacity Build Center for Tribes (CBC4T).  Becky’s experience in Indian Child Welfare entails: Title IV-E, ICWA, Family Group Conferencing, Prevention, Permanency Planning, Foster Care, Emergency Shelter, Diligent Recruitment, Rural Recruitment, and Cultural specific Case Management. 

 

Chiara Cournoyer-Bruguier has a diverse background in the Human Services field specializing in Tribal Child Welfare.  She has experience as a Tribal Child Welfare Consultant, Tribal Human Services Director, Social Services Program Manager, Grant Coordinator, Child Welfare Caseworker, and many other frontline positions within the Human Services field. She is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, and she holds degrees in Business Administration and Social Work.  Chiara currently serves as the Vice President of the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition, and she is a part of other various committees and boards related to the work she does.  She is a certified facilitator of the Fatherhood is Sacred/Motherhood is Sacred parenting curriculum which she has been facilitating for over 10 years. She is also certified nationally as an approved Trainer for the Native American Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP:NA).  Chiara enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge of Tribal Child Welfare practice, Native American Parenting experiences and other life and career related experiences with others both locally and nationally.

Cori F. Matthew, MHR (Salish & Blackfeet), serves as the Tailored Services Administrative Director for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. Before joining CBC4Tribes Cori worked at the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) as their director of programs and policy. She joined the team with expertise in technical assistance, wraparound support, leadership, and management. Cori served as the program director that oversaw their National Training & Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) contract. She served tribal communities through culturally appropriate technical assistance and trainings. Cori earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Chapman University, and her master’s degree in human relations with an emphasis in counseling from the University of Oklahoma. Cori previously worked for the Native American Youth and Family Center as the director of youth and education services. She developed, implemented, and supervised program services for youth ages 5–24 years old, including programs for LGBTQ youth, gang prevention services, homeless youth programming, education, cultural arts, and recreation services. She had oversight and management of budgets, adherence to all contracts, leadership to staff, identifying and addressing youth and family program development, and professional development plans to enhance the ability of the staff to address youth and family needs. Cori has also worked as a social worker for her tribe, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe.

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Tribal Child Welfare Prevention Specialist, Capacity Building Center
for Tribes

Chiara Cournoyer-Bruguier
(Yankton Sioux Tribe)