Lunch Break

Presenter Information & Recordings


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W/ Breanna Faris, M.Ed.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
Executive Director, Department of Enrollment, Cheyenee and Arapaho Tribes
Doctoral Candidate, University of Oklahoma

Breanna R. Faris is from the Youngbear family of Watonga, OK and is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Department of Enrollment for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Breanna is currently a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department at the University of Oklahoma. Her research emphasis and interests include Native student identity development and tribal education departments.



W/ Nicole Been, PhD
Mvskoke Creek
Associate A.D., Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Oklahoma

Dr. Nicole Been (pronounced Bean) most recently served as the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Special Projects for Bacone College. As Vice President, Been was responsible for the development and implementation of the institution’s strategic planning process including both athletics and diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and initiatives, led efforts to transition the school to Public Tribal College and University status, and oversaw all aspects of the Athletics Department serving briefly as the Interim Athletic Director in the spring of 2020. In addition, Been developed partnerships across the campus and state as a member of the President’s senior leadership team, assisted in fundraising and human resource efforts, served as the Dean of the Division of Indigenous Online Teaching and Learning as well as an Associate Professor in Sports and Recreation Management, and held the position of Title IX Coordinator.

Been holds Graduate Faculty status at Oklahoma State University. She is an alumnus of Oklahoma State University, Baylor University, and Bacone College where she was a women’s basketball student-athlete. Been has dedicated much of her professional career to the world of sports and education where she has experience with the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Baylor Lady Bears basketball program, Oklahoma State University Athletics Department, Big 12 Conference women’s basketball tournament championships, and with the Langston University Athletics Department where she also served as an Assistant Professor in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Director of Interns, and a member of the University’s Institutional Review Board for Diversity.

Dr. Been received her Ph.D. in health, leisure, and human performance from Oklahoma State University where she examined the utilization of leisure, including traditional forms, as a coping mechanism for depression in Native American women survivors of domestic violence. She also holds a Masters of Education in Sports Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. Been was named to the National Center for American Enterprise Development’s most recent Native American 40 Under 40 Class. She is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and a member of Thlopthlocco Tribal Town.


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W/ Tasha Fridia, JD
Pejuta Cangleska Win-Sacred Medicine Circle Woman
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, Kiowa and Caddo Nations

Tasha is a member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, she also represents the Kiowa and Caddo nations. She hails from a family of activists who have dedicated their spirits to creating a better life for future generations. Ms. Fridia’s work centers around juvenile justice in tribal communities. She served as the Assistant Director of the Tribal Youth Resource Center (TYRC) and as a Policy Analyst/Political Advisor to the Vice President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Tasha is also the owner of Fridia Consulting where she works with tribes across Indian Country on affecting change through law and policy development. Her work is guided by traditional Native American cultural and spiritual teachings. Tasha holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oklahoma, a Masters from Webster University, and a Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University School of Law with a certificate in American Indian Law.


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W/ Robin Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn, PhD
Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma and a descendant of the Umatilla, Nez Perce, Apache and Assiniboine Nations
Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Washington Tacoma
Director of Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, University of Washington Tacoma
Director of Indigenous Education Initiatives, University of Washington Tacoma

Robin is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Tacoma in the School of Education and is the Director of Educational Leadership Doctoral Program and Director of Indigenous Education Initiatives. Previously, she was an Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico, a Coordinator of Native American Affairs at Oklahoma State University, an adjunct faculty at Pawnee Nation College, preceding that, academic advisor at Comanche Nation College, Oklahoma’s 1st tribal college. Her research interests include Indigenous leadership, Native American college students, and Historically Native American Fraternities and Sororities.

Robin has served as a Board of Director for the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), as a NASPA Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community Chair, Chair for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Special Interest Group and is the past President and recent Board of Director of the National Indian Youth Council, Inc. Dr. Minthorn is also the co-editor of Indigenous Leadership in Higher Education, published by Routledge Educational Leadership Research Series and Reclaiming Indigenous Research in Higher Education, published by Rutgers University Press. She is also the co-editor for the now available books, Indigenous Motherhood in the Academy published by Rutgers University Press and Unsettling Settler Colonial Education: The Transformational Indigenous Praxis Model published by Teachers College Press.


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W/ Tisha Bradford, BS
Reach Higher Manager, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE)

Tisha Bradford is the Reach Higher Manager for the Reach Higher Adult Degree Completion Initiative with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. As the manager, Tisha acts as the liaison between non-traditional adult students and higher education institutions across the state of Oklahoma. Reach Higher’s DirectComplete program, funded by a grant from Lumina Foundation, has 15 public, private and Native American participating institutions that offer comprehensive services and support to adult students returning to pursue degree programs that lead to employment in Oklahoma’s critical occupations, as determined by the state workforce development agency. Partners from workforce boards, businesses, tribal agencies, nonprofits and higher education institution partners are working to leverage financial support and other services to help adult students complete their degrees with minimal personal cost.

Tisha attended Langston University in Langston, OK where she graduated Cum Laude with her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry in 2003. While at Langston, she was blessed through the support of her loving family and the wonderful community of her hometown of Bristow, OK, to study abroad in Africa for a month through the Langston University Study Abroad Program, in which she volunteered at hospitals and schools across western Africa. Wanting to do something fun, Tisha enrolled and graduated from American Broadcasting School in 2009, from which she began her own DJ company, Lyrical Sounds DJ Services, that she still maintains today. Before her current position, Tisha has served as a Case Manager for individuals experiencing mental health challenges, a YMCA Membership Director, and the Office Manager for the Oklahoma State University OB/GYN office in Tulsa, OK.

On a personal note, Tisha enjoys acting, writing poetry, riding horses, traveling and spending time with her husband, 5 kids and 2 grandchildren. Tisha has appeared in multiple stage plays across 6 different states, receiving her big break in 2017 when she landed the principle role of June in the Feature film “Christmas in the Heartland” which can be viewed on Netflix. She has since co-starred in another film titled “The Girl Who Believes in Miracles” that hit theaters in April of 2021.


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W/ Sheila Smith, MA
Senior Reach Higher Manager, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE)

Sheila Smith administers activities related to the statewide Reach Higher degree completion program for adult learners who want to finish their college degree from a state university, college, or technical branch. She facilitates, promotes, and coordinates the Reach Higher initiative with participating two-year and four-year institutions and Oklahoma businesses. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Southern Nazarene University.


****Recording was lost.
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W/ Corey Still, PhD
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
Director of Student Programming and Research, American Indian Graduate Center

Dr. Corey Still leads the Student Programs and Research team, ensuring scholarship program delivery and achieving outcome goals in conjunction with American Indian Graduate Center’s vision, mission and strategic direction.

Originally from Tahlequah, OK, Dr. Still was named as a 2009 Gates Millennium Scholar. He holds a B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma, an M.S. degree in Higher Education Leadership from Northeastern State University and a Doctorate in Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affair and Higher Education Administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Passionate about education within Indian Country, Dr. Still has served on several national and regional boards, advisory councils, and community and organizational leadership teams advocating and promoting Native education across the country. As a first-gen college student, he relates to the obstacles that many Native students face and strives to help Native students who dream about attending college turn that into an achievable reality. Dr. Still’s current research agenda includes the experiences of undergraduate Native men, Native/Indigenous masculinity, Native American fraternities, and sororities, and Native student leadership development.


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W/ Alison Black, M.Ed.
Cheyenne & Aprapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
President, OCIE

Alison Black is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. Her mother is the late Freda Roman Nose Primeaux, the daughter of Fred Roman Nose and Blanche Red Shin. Her Cheyenne name is, “Standing” after Chief Roman Nose’s wife who survived the Sand Creek Massacre. Her father is the late Burgess Charles Primeaux. She is also a descendent of the Ponca Tribe, Osage Nation, and Prairie Potawatomi people and of Wilson Kirk, one of the first Osages to come into Oklahoma.

Currently, she is the president of the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education and is also passionate about social justice issues. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as the Member-at-Large. Alison is an active member of the Oklahoma Education Association and serves as the co-chair for the Native American Caucus. She has spoken publicly against the use of Native mascots and regularly educates school districts and others about Title VI, (Indian Education). In 2013 she joined Delta Pi, the professional chapter of Alpha Pi Omega, the first Native American sorority in the nation.

She has obtained an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in education. Currently, she resides in Red Rock with her husband and two of her four children and is the Indian Education Coordinator for Stillwater Public Schools. In 2019 she was selected as 40 Under 40 by the National Center for American Enterprise Development (NCAIED).


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W/ Tesia Zientek, M.A.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
President-Elect, OCIE

Tesia Zientek is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal citizen. With financial help from a Gates Millennium Scholarship, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 2009 with her B.A. in English. After graduation, Tesia spent two years teaching and running an afterschool program in Puerto Rico before pursuing her M.A. in Education Policy from Stanford University in 2013. To celebrate her achievements, Tesia has received the Howard Yackus Memorial, NextGen 30 Under 30, and National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Native American 40 Under 40 awards.

In October 2015, she became her tribe’s first Director for its new Education Department, which aims to prepare for the next seven generations by helping tribal members identify and reach their educational goals regardless of age or location. She serves as President Elect for the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education, Vice President on the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly, and as Treasurer for the National Indian Education Association. Since 2012, Tesia has also served as Potawatomi Leadership Program Advisor, helping to restructure and implement curriculum for the Harvard Honoring Nations Award-winning internship program.


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W/ Gordon Emhoolah, Sain-a-lah-kg’ope
Kiowa,Comanche and Apache Tribes
Independent Artist, Chasing Horses Art

“Created within is a spirit that guides you as you walk this creation.”

Amongst the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache there are lineages continuing into the future. These traditions of storytelling are still in practice today. Gordon Emhoolah is one such individual. Born in Anadarko Oklahoma, to Rachel Chalepah and Hubert “bucky” Emhoolah, Gordon was groomed to tell in art form at a young age when he was introduced back into his childhood culture. His home life provided the atmosphere of well groomed, knowledgeable elders at his young age. Legacies of a people can still be heard in his home town to this day.

Growing up surounded by the art, customs, teachings and elders of his time he has learned the art of a contemporary feel of old subjects as the art of storytelling. His teachings are transferred from within onto each canvas of his choice. Continuing the legacy of indigenous art. Storytelling through art has allowed Gordon’s journey to preserve and teach when called upon, through his artistry Gordon has painted what life experiences have gifted him with. Acrylic and pencil have helped him build his collections and tell the story of the (KCA Reservation) in the contemporary new vintage pages of indigenous customs and beliefs of the indigenous life, his art is the old concept of new ideologies.

What is known as “flat style” art has been around since the Ft.Marion prison pictographs and writings. Ledger art has always been a vital part of indigenous life. Since time has recorded there are many stories to tell amongst each respective tribe across this continent. The paint brush has always been home to the (KCA)and many stories have been recorded throughout history with it. Art has been handed down from oral traditions and through living the culture. These paintings carry legacies of chiefs and families that all make it possible. Honoring the vital parts of Native American culture each painting places you in a different time and place just for a glimpse into the past.

The true essence if Chasing Horse artistry is to re-vive, connect and promote the lifestyle of indigenous culture with humor and reverence toward a better life and a closer walk with creation just the way it has been created.


****Recording was lost.
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W/ Johnny Poolaw, PhD
Delaware Nation, Chiricahua Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Nations
Director of Student Success, American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)

Dr. Johnny Poolaw is a citizen of the Delaware Nation and is also a descendent of the Chiricahua Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Nations. Dr. Poolaw currently serves as the Director of Student Success for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). In this role, he leads the Student Success Division within the Programs Department in the development and implementation of student success programming, including developing and providing a holistic suite of college student services focused on supporting academic success, career exploration, and successful transition into the workforce, developing scholarship and internship policies and procedures, engaging in collaborations with partner organizations and coalitions, and collecting data to track outcomes and evaluate AISES’ student support programs to explore the impact of AISES’ college programs.

Dr. Poolaw has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Cameron University, and Master and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Oklahoma. For the past 19 years, Johnny has served his Indigenous community and primarily Indigenous students in higher education in various roles. Prior to working with AISES, he was the Acting Tribal Liaison Officer for the University of Oklahoma and before that role, he served as an instructor, Dean of Student Services, and as the Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs at the Comanche Nation Tribal College in Lawton, Oklahoma. Of all the roles he has held, he has always thought of the heartwork he does with Native students as the most rewarding.


****Recording was lost.
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W/ Laura Owens, B.A.
Cherokee Nation
Membership Manager, American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)

Laura Owens is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the Membership Manager for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, responsible for overseeing the membership database and supporting recruitment and retention efforts. She will also assist in managing the College Student Representative Program – a leadership program where college students gain access to exclusive trainings, networking events, and build community for other STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) students on campuses in the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to joining AISES, she worked for six years as a student affairs professional in Durango, Colorado where she made a meaningful impact for students through living-learning experiences, student organization experiences, mentoring, volunteering, and more.

Growing up in Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado Boulder graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English as well as obtaining a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Fort Lewis College.


****Recording cancelled due to Elder passing. Reschedule date & time TBD.

W/ Lancer Stephens, PhD
Wichita & Affiliated Tribes, Muscogee Creek
Associate Dean for Sovereignty, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Associate Professor of Research, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, Hudson College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Lancer Stephens (Kitikiti’sh) is an Associate Professor of Research and the Associate Dean for Sovereignty, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at the Hudson College of Public Health, and the Associate Director for Community Outreach for the Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources Institute at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Originally from Del City, OK, Dr. Stephens received his A.A. degree at Haskell Indian Junior College, his B.S. at the University of Central Oklahoma, his M.S. at Northeastern State University and his Ph.D. in Health Administration, Public Policy and Research Ethics from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center all of which would not have been possible without support from the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Educational Services Department.

Dr. Stephens is passionate about Native health and furthering opportunities for tribal populations in his research and teaching and has been honored to serve on multiple state and nationwide projects that directly influence Native populations’ health and well-being. Locally, he serves on regional boards for increasing health and health literacy, increasing access to education and breaking down barriers and stereotypes that may hinder advancement for minority populations in higher education and in their career field.


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W/ Heather Shotton, PhD
Wichita & Affiliated Tribes, Kiowa and Cheyenne descent
Associate Professor and Department Chair, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Adult and Higher Education, University of Oklahoma

Heather Shotton is a citizen of the Wichita & Affiliated Tribes, and is also of Kiowa and Cheyenne descent. She is an associate professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma, having previously served as as an associate professor in Native American Studies at OU. She received her doctorate in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. Dr. Shotton’s research focuses on Indigenous students in higher education and Indigenous women, particularly in the areas of leadership and Indigenous women in academia. She served as a co-editor for the book, Beyond the Asterisk: Understanding Native Students in Higher Education (Stylus), which addresses strategies for serving Native college students, and is a co-editor for the forthcoming book, Reclaiming Indigenous Research in Higher Education (Rutgers University Press). Prior to returning to OU she served as assistant director of multicultural student affairs at Oklahoma City University. She has spent her career serving students both in and out of the classroom. Dr. Shotton is the past president for the National Indian Education Association and was recently named the NIEA Educator of the Year. She is a strong advocate for Native education and serves Native students and communities on a national and local level. She lives in Norman with her partner John Shotton, and their two daughters Sloan and Sophie.

Honors and Recognition

  • National Indian Education Association Educator of the Year (2016)
  • Oklahoma Council for Indian Education Indian Educator of the Year (2015)
  • NASPA Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community, Outstanding Research Award (2015)
  • National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Native American 40 Under 40 (2013)


****Recording cancelled due to Elder passing. Reschedule date & time TBD.

W/ Rachel Crawford, MA
Wichita & Affiliated Tribes, Navajo
CEO, Quivera Enterprise, LLC

Rachel Crawford is an enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. Rachel has the privilege of serving as the Chief Executive Officer for Quivera Enterprise, LLC (Quivera), a tribally owned holding company. Quivera was established in 2018 by the Wichita Tribe Industrial Development Commission (WTIDC) as a mechanism for enhancing sustainability and expanding business opportunities for the WTIDC’s federal contracting businesses. Currently, the businesses supported by Quivera provide several services to the federal government in the areas of construction, logistics, information technology, financial management services, occupational health, and environmental services.

As the current Interim-President of Iscani Industries, Rachel brings 8-years of business development and growth strategy services to the company. Rachel has an entrepreneurial mindset and program execution skills refined through leadership roles involving continuous collaboration with business executives driving processes and effecting positive change.

Ms. Crawford holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and a master’s degree in Administrative Leadership and Economics all from the University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining the team at Quivera, Rachel worked for non-profit mission-driven efforts that value equity and serve as a catalyst for change. She has grown up in Anadarko and has served her community in a number of capacities since leaving for college. Rachel has a passion for grassroots movements that encourage and provide for opportunities that improve the quality of life for all Indigenous peoples.