Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

New, Returning, and Continuing NIEA Board Members take on challenges facing Native Students, Educators, and Communities During a Pandemic


October 19, 2020

Washington, DC – The National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the leading Native education advocacy organization, has elected five Native leaders to join an already dedicated board of directors. NIEA Board of Directors is comprised of a committed and compassionate team of educators, community and tribal leaders, parents, grandparents, and business owners. “It is an honor to welcome new board members. Their experience and expertise will further strengthen this organization’s impact in advancing NIEA’s mission,” said Jason Dropik, NIEA Board of Directors President.

Last week, during the Annual NIEA Convention and Trade show—the first ever in a virtual format—board members were sworn-in during the closing ceremony. Five newly elected and seven current board members will take on the challenge of governing a Native education organization amid unprecedented times of educational disruption.

The Continuing Board Members include:

• Jason Dropik, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, was elected as President of the Board of Directors. Dropik serves as the Head of School at the Indian Community School, near Milwaukee, WI.

• Dr. Connie Locklear, Lumbee Tribe, was elected as 1st Vice President. Locklear is the Director of Indian Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County.

• Dr. Sylvia Hussey, Native Hawaiian, continues her term and office as Treasurer for the Board. She currently serves as the CEO for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

• Dr. Lori Quigley, Seneca Nation, continues her office as Secretary. Quigley is currently Assistant to the Provost for the Graduate Programs and the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the Seneca Gaming Corporation.

• Jaylyn Suppah, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation, continues her seat as Student Board Member. She is currently attending Evergreen State College in Washington.

The Newly Elected Board Members include:

• Patricia Whitefoot, Yakama Nation, a returning board member who was elected as the 2nd Vice President. Whitefoot was appointed by President Obama to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education with the US Department of Education.

• Dr. Jolene Bowman, Stockbridge Munsee Community, is also returning to the board and was elected as Parliamentarian. Bowman currently serves as Vice-President for Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

• Teresa Sarabia, Tlingit, joins the General Board as the Alaska Representative. Sarabia is currently the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Project Manager for southeast Alaska.

• Tesia Zientek, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, was elected to the General Board as an At-Large Member. She is the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Education Director.

• Brandon Thoms, Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and Eastern Band Cherokee of North Carolina, also joined the General Board as an At-Large Member. Thoms owns and operates Torchlight Consulting, a Native American Public Relations firm located in Lac du Flambeau, WI. (Brandon will complete Julian Guerrero’s term)

• Brenda Dial Deese, Lumbee Nation, also joined the General Board as an At-Large Member. She is a retired educator from North Carolina who previously worked with AmeriCorps and Boys and Girls Club for the Lumbee Nation. (Brenda will complete Brian Jackson’s term)

• Ben Baldwin, Kenaitze Indian Tribe, joined the General Board as a Student Board Member. He is pursuing a degree in Alaska Native Governance from Alaska Pacific University.

About NIEA

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) advances comprehensive, culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

NIEA was formed in 1970, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Native educators who were anxious to find solutions to improve the education system for Native children. The NIEA convention was established to mark the beginning of a national forum for sharing and developing ideas, and influencing federal policy. NIEA adheres to the organization’s founding principles: 1) to bring Native educators together to explore ways to improve schools and the schooling of native children; 2) to promote the maintenance and continued development of Native languages and cultures; and 3) to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and policy makers.

NIEA is the leading advocate on issues impacting Native education. NIEA provides membership with information on scholarships, opportunities, events, policy, and federal and state news stories.

For press inquiries contact or visit us online at, or call (202) 544-7290. Follow us on Facebook @NIEAfanpage, Twitter @wereNIEA and Instagram @niea1969 for live updates and 51st Annual NIEA Virtual Convention & Trade Show information.


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