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Tribal Technical Advisory Committee Members Biographical Information

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SAMHSA TTAC Members Biographies

MEMBERS

Marilyn Andon (Alaska Area)

Marilyn Andon is a tribal member of the Native Village of Tanana and has worked for Tanana Chiefs Conference for the past 13 years in the Health Department. In 2020 she was Tanana Chiefs Conference Employee of the Year. Her current position is Deputy Director of Health Services although most of Marilyn’s time at TCC has been spent working with the Behavioral Health Division. She has a Master’s of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a Minor in Alaska Native Studies. During her time as the Behavioral Health Director, Marilyn worked on a number of SAMHSA grants as both the Project Director and Principal Investigator for 12 years. Marilyn served on the Tribal Behavioral Health Directors Committee and has been on Fairbanks Native Association Advisory Committee for SAMHSA grants.

Jack Austin, Jr. (Oklahoma Area)

Jack Austin, Jr. serves as the Assistant Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Mr. Austin became Assistant Chief on April 29, 2014, after serving as Director of the Choctaw Nation Recovery Center in Talihina, OK. He began working for the Choctaw Nation in 1991 with the Choctaw Nation Health Care System after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. His first position in material management led to a position as a state-licensed counselor at the Recovery Center.

Mr. Austin’s duties are vast, and he enjoys working closely with tribal members and the Choctaw Tribal Council. Mr. Austin also focuses on work with the Senior Executive Officers of the Tribe who oversee the major Tribal divisions: Member Services, Tribal Relations, Health Services, and Administrative Services. As Assistant Chief, he also sits on the Choctaw Nation Business Committee, which drives all the Tribe's new business ventures.

Mr. Austin has been married to his wife, Philisha, for 24 years. Together, they have three children: Clark, a student at Carl Albert State College; Malacha, a senior at Talihina High School; and Sam, their youngest at age 5.

Beverly Cook (Nashville Area)

Beverly Kiohawiton Cook is currently serving her third term as an elected Chief on the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council. Beverly is a Family Nurse Practitioner and prominent voice in the mind-body medicine approach to restoring wellness, reproductive health and environmental justice for Mohawk people. She has presented her signature lecture, “Resilience from our Roots: You are Creation,” to hundreds of community members as well as national and international audiences. The lecture weaves together Haudenosaunee traditions and beliefs with basic reproductive physiology, encouraging understanding of the responsibilities of men and women and an appreciation for the transmission of historical trauma through the generations.

Phyllis Davis (Bemidji Area)

Phyllis Davis has served as a Councilwoman for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan (also known as the Gun Lake Tribe) for almost 2 years.

Ms. Davis is an advocate for health and wellness within her own tribal community, as well as within the Bemidji area. Ms. Davis was the Director of the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) for her Tribe for many years. During this time, she also served as the co-chair of the Michigan Tribal Health Directors Association.

Ms. Davis has participated annually in the Regional DHHS Tribal Consultation to bring issues of concern not only from a tribal perspective but also the 34 tribes within the Bemidji area, including the urban health programs. This past year, she had the privilege of participating in the National Budget Formulation Workgroup as a representative of the Bemidji area, and most recently as the Bemidji Representative to the DHHS Tribal Consultation Workgroup.

Peter Lengkeek (Great Plains Area)

Peter Lengkeek is the Chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. He is also the Chairman of the Crow Creek Tribal School Board and the Lode Star Casino Board of Directors. He has been a cultural consultant to various organizations throughout Minnesota, and has worked as a Project Development Coordinator and Project Program Coordinator for the Indian Health Service. His work specialized in trauma recovery, suicide prevention, and domestic violence/sexual assault prevention. He is a board member of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association, as well as a member of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board.

Nickolaus D. Lewis (At-Large)

Juts-kadim' Nickolaus Dee Lewis is a tribal citizen of the Lummi Nation in Washington State, a proud veteran serving 8 honorable years in the U.S. Navy (2000 to 2008), and the father of three children: Ethan Lewis, Nickolaus Lewis III, and Tyray Lewis. Mr. Lewis is the grandson of the late Chief Sa-hum-kun (Donald Lewis) of the Lummi Nation, and believes that as his grandson he must honor his name by serving his people as his grandfather has done before him. Mr. Lewis also believes that as an elected leader of the Lummi Nation, his primary job is to serve the people. This belief has driven his work addressing homelessness on and off the reservation.

Mr. Lewis currently serves as a Councilmember of the Lummi Indian Business Council. He has also been placed on multiple boards and committees, tribal and non-tribal, with a focus on judicial and health-related issues.

Prior to his service on Tribal Council, Mr. Lewis worked as a juvenile and adult probation officer where he helped create the first Swift, Certain, and Fair Probation Model for a Native American Tribe, inspired by HOPE Probation in Hawaii. This model was called Lummi Chinqinst Probation, as “Chinqinst” translates to “Beginning to be on the right path.”

Juana Majel-Dixon (California Area)

Juana Majel-Dixon is a citizen of the Pauma-Yuima Band of Luiseño Indians in California and has served a traditional appointment to the Tribal Legislative Council for 28 years.

Ms. Majel-Dixon has been an active member of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for more than 30 years, serving in various NCAI leadership capacities. For the last 9 years, Ms. Majel-Dixon has served as the NCAI Secretary. In 2003, she spearheaded the formation of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women and served as its Chair. Ms. Majel-Dixon has dedicated endless hours to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 and continues the work of the NCAI Task Force to Stop Violence Against Native Women.

Ms. Majel-Dixon served a 2-year term with the Office of Violence Against Women’s National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women and a 6-year term with the Tribal Technical Advisory Group to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Ms. Majel-Dixon has also served 2 years with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tribal Advisory Committee.

Ms. Majel-Dixon has traveled around the world representing the unique perspective of Indigenous peoples and raising cultural awareness about issues of Native sovereignty, tribal justice systems, racism, spirituality, healing, and education. Ms. Majel-Dixon soon will earn her joint doctoral degree in Education and U.S. Policy from San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University. She has a master’s degree in Behavioral Science (emphasis on community behavior) and a master’s degree in Psychology (specialty in Native school psychology). Ms. Majel-Dixon also has a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science (emphasis on substance abuse).

Ms. Majel-Dixon has taught Federal Indian Law and U.S. Policy for 26 years at Palomar College and is a visiting professor at San Diego State University, Claremont Graduate University, and Mesa College. In April 2006, Ms. Majel-Dixon became a faculty member of Clan Star, Inc. She also worked with the Alcohol and Substance Abuse director and counselor for the San Diego Indian Health Clinic and with the Women’s Resource Center, and she is a traditional Native healer.

One of Ms. Majel-Dixon’s greatest accomplishments is being an aunt, helping to raise seven boys (nephews between the ages of 19 and 29 years).

Mary Ann Mills (Alaska Area)

Mary Ann Mills is a citizen of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe which is located in Kenai, Alaska. She has served on Tribal Council for over twenty years. Mary Ann is Vice Chair for the Tribe's Kahtnuht'ana Dena'ina Health Board which involves the Primary Care, Behavioral Health Program, Chemical Dependency Program and the Wellness Program. She serves as the alternate representative for the statewide Alaska Native Health Board. Mary Ann was formerly the Tribe's Chief Judge and is presently the Chair of the Tribe's Court Code Committee and the Chair of the Title IV-E Committee. She advocated for the State of Alaska to uphold its ICWA obligation through successfully suing the state in federal court. Mary Ann is a strong advocate of Tribal Courts throughout Alaska. Mary Ann is Vice Chair for the Kenaitze Education Committee and a member of the National Indian Education Association. Mary Ann is an honorary member of the Tribe's Elders Committee. She also serves on the Alaska Pacific University's Elders Council, which involves curriculum and guidance of the Tribal University.

Lenore Myers-Nault (Billings Area)

Buu Nygren (Navajo Area)

President Buu Nygren is a carpenter, public servant, and father. After serving Navajo communities throughout the pandemic, President Nygren committed himself to securing the basic necessities for every Navajo home: Water, power, and reliable roads. President Nygren's focus on combating poverty is a guiding principle for the Navajo Nation Executive Branch programs.

Terri Parton (Oklahoma Area)

Terri Parton is President for the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. An enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, she graduated from Gracemont Public Schools. She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration and a Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law. She has worked for the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes for 25 years beginning her service to the Tribe in January, 1998.

Jacqueline Platero (Albuquerque Area)

My name Is Jacqueline (Jackie) Platero, I am from and live in To’Hajiilee Band of Navajos Community for the past fifty (50) years. I have been involved in my community’s political aspects as an advocate as well as a tribal leader from 3 terms served. I enjoy my leadership as an advocate for the Canoncito Band of Navajos Health Center, Inc. Board of Directors as a Chairperson and presently a Vice-Chairperson. I believe in the high quality of health care for the American Indians/Alaska Natives in all health disparities for birth to elderly.

The most valuable and important area of health care that I find important is to pamper your health with teachings, best practices, mental/psychological stability, spiritual beliefs and physical well-being. My passion to protect those individuals that are most vulnerable, susceptible and powerless to their surroundings and do not have the guidance or support from family.

In the years I was elected as a tribal leader (Vice-President) it was my determination to uphold advocacy to highest level for my Navajo Community of To’Hajiilee Navajo. To accomplish barriers for quality water, quality health care, quality education, improve roads, improve homesteads, engage in elderly care, engage in substance/alcohol abuse, advocate for expanding health facilities and improving economic growth. In the years of leadership, we were able to accomplish better water systems with quality water that will be coming from Albuquerque, NM. In the areas of health care as a health board advocate with the supports of CBNHC BOD we were funded to expand our health center. We are presently working on improving our Behavioral Health Program including traditional medicines and traditional ceremonies for cleansing as well as a traditional site. Many other developments are in the process of being constricted to provide more employment to the community of To’Hajiilee Navajo. We upscaled broadband service to 350+ houses so they can utilize virtual learning for schools they attend, tele-health to families and virtual health awareness with traditional story telling.

In my years of tribal leadership, health board member, Indian Education Parent Committee and mother of 10 (2 deceased) have accomplish many goals, certificates, awards and trainings. The certificates presented as a participant was suicide prevention, grant writing, outstanding parent engagement, emergency preparedness, strategic planning, substance/alcohol abuse prevention (8hrs) and others. I have been involved in many workshops on policies for improvements.

It is important to provide information to those that do not understand what health care services is provided to sustain and neutralize tribal communities with their health disparities. Providing accuracy on health care needs as a professional helps tribal communities improve and understand the need to make those changes or correction if needed. Moving forward in health care proper initiative of advocacy is a high demand especially in remote areas where advocacy is limited. It is important for the United States Government to understand those tribal communities that have health services due to lack of advocacy and lack of funding. The need to have each tribal communities have the utmost advocacy is a high demand and can make improvements that may minimize health disparities. Every tribal community needs quality health care in every component to ensure they are not restricted or limited due to funding. The need to fund these health disparities is very important to tribal communities and it is the responsibility of each advocate to sustain all funding to ensure exceptional quality health care.

Marilyn Scott (Portland Area)

Marilyn M. Scott (Whe-Che-Litsa), Tribal Chairwoman of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, credits her maternal grandparents’ traditional values and upbringing for her wisdom and encouragement to serve the people of her tribe and all of Indian Country. She has served on the Upper Skagit Tribal Council for 25 years. She has served her tribe as the Health & Social Services Administrator for 20 years and currently serves the tribal council as the Policy Analyst for Health, Education and Employment. Over the years, she had many former Tribal leaders as mentors, (Violet Hillaire, Joe Delacruz, Mel Tonasket, Robert Joe “WaWalton” to name a few.) Throughout her tenure, she has served on numerous local, regional and national board, committees and commissions. Marilyn currently serves as the Treasurer of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington, after serving 10 years as the Chairwoman. She is actively serving as the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe representative on: DSHS Indian Policy Committee, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Northwest Washington Tribal Health Board, and the Washington State Tribal leaders Association. She has received numerous acknowledgements and awards in recognition of her contributions for Health Advocacy on behalf of Indian Country. In 2003 she was one of five (5) recipients of the Virginia Mason Celebrating Women Night in recognition for her Tribal Leadership in Health for the tribes of Washington. She received the Luna Wessel Leadership Award, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board Delegate of the Year and in 2011 she received the National Indian Health Board Regional Impact Award for work on Health Reform on behalf of tribes of the Portland Area. The most recent award is the 2014 Public Health Leader of the Year award presented by Washington State Secretary of Department of Health John Wiseman.

Dillon Shije (Albuquerque Area)

KuWaTsi-Nah Hopah! My name is Dillon Shije, and I am a Councilman and Tribal Leader from the Pueblo of Zia in New Mexico. Currently, I serve as a Membership Liaison at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). I am also a Partner at Zia Impact, a consultancy focusing on Tribal Infrastructure and Economic Development, where I combine my expertise in advocacy and sustainable communities. As a Founding Board Member of the Pueblo Development Commission NGO, I actively further the perspectives of the Pueblo Peoples of New Mexico across global Indigenous issues. I am the Tribal-Interior Budget Council (TIBC) Southwest Representative, nominated and supported by the All Pueblo Council of Governors to serve 25 Tribal Nations. I hold political appointments as a State Platforms and Resolutions Committee (SPARC) Member for the Democratic Party of New Mexico and a Native American Senate Central Committee (SCC) Member. This representational role is the first of its kind in the U.S., created through legislation. I was appointed as the Health Advisor to 20 Pueblo Sovereign Nations of New Mexico and Texas, and I aspire to become a medical doctor.

Before my advocacy work, I was a Professional Runner and Division I Cross Country National Champion. I was honored at the Obama White House. I hold a Harvard Business School Executive Education Certificate in Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities, which was supported by the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA). I also have dual Bachelor's degrees in History and Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado - Boulder, as well as a Pre-Med Post-Bacc from the University of Arizona and the University of New Mexico.

Additionally, I am a recipient of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network Fellowship and graduate of Leadership New Mexico's Connect Program and ASU's Indigenous Leadership Institute. I am recognized as an Aspen Institute ‘Future Climate Leader,’ Tribal Innovators Energy Fellow with Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund, and a Schusterman Philanthropies Reality Sports Fellow.

Alongside my dedication to public service, community advancement, and cultural observance, I find fulfillment in my role as a devoted husband and father.

Sonia Weston (Great Plains Area)

Born in Brighton, Colorado, Sonia (Little Hawk) Weston is one of twelve siblings of the late Richard and Elizabeth (Around Him) Little Hawk. Weston grew up and lived most of her life on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which she calls home today. Weston’s passion is to work hard for her Oyate to address concerns affecting their holistic lifestyle. This includes issues such as mental health, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. In April 2016, Weston testified on behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in front of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the many health concerns of her people.

Weston graduated from Oglala Lakota College with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Through the nineties her career spanned various organizations including Oglala Lakota College, Oglala Sioux Tribe Public Safety department, and Oglala Sioux Tribe Mni Wiconi Project. In 2006 Mrs. Weston began serving the district of Wakpamni and the Oglala Sioux Tribe as one of the 21 Tribal Council Leaders. Throughout the years Weston was appointed to various committees, including the Land Committee, HHS Committee, Law & Order Committee, Economic Business & Development Committee, Great Plains Leaders Health Board (GPLHP), and the GPLHP Mni Luzahan Advisory Committee. Weston represents the Great Plains region in her role as a delegate on the SAMHSA Tribal Technical Advisory Committee.

Weston is married to her husband of 42 years, Dwight Weston, a Marine Corp veteran. Together, they have three daughters, Nicolette, Casey, and Brianna, as well as eight grandchildren and two beautiful great granddaughters.

Curtis Yanito (Navajo Area)

Curtis Yanito represents the Mexican Water, To’likan, Teesnospos, Aneth, and Red Mesa chapters of the Navajo Nation. His maternal clan is Bitter Water (Biih Bitoodnii To’dich’nii) and his paternal clan is Red bottom (Tl’aashchi’I). His maternal grandfather is Prickly Plants (Ta’neeszahnii) clan, and his paternal grandfather is Near Water (Ta’baaha’) clan.

His hometown is Bluff, Utah, and his children are grown, working on their own and living in urban cities off reservation. They enjoy coming home for family events, however. He was the first Navajo business owner in Bluff, Utah and managed and operated the Baahazho Yanito Gallery for 24 years. He was also the owner and operator of Binisht’aa Pottery. He assisted with the start-up of the solar energy company Dineh Grid Inc. for a local Grazing permitee to become the future first Navajo billionaire. He has also worked in foreign countries, including Canada and Nassau, Bahamas as a mechanical engineer building bakery facilities. He was the CEO of Utah Navajo Development Council (UNDC) non-profit, developing Halchita, Utah lands, including securing 600 acres of leased land for the Monument Valley Hospital and other uses.

As a Chapter representative, he has served on the District Grazing Committee, working with local grazing permittees and land users to ensure the implementation of and compliance to Navajo Nation land laws. As Mexican Water Chapter President, he worked with the Local Governance Act (LGA 1997), Title 26 and assisted chapters, CLUPZ, to ensure the chapter was LGA certified. He's a graduate of Utah State University and the College of Eastern Utah, earning Business Administration and Engineering degrees. He currently serves on the Health, Education & Human Services Committee.

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