An experienced, dedicated Board of Directors with backgrounds that span a variety of industries, including business and financial management, strategic planning, law, education, health care, economic development, grants and programming, humanitarian services and multicultural diversity sets the stage for the strategic direction of PWNA and governs our administration and finances.
PWNA’s Board structure includes several special oversight committees, including a standalone Audit Committee, a Finance Committee, Fundraising/PR Committee, Personnel Committee, and Board Governance & Development Committee, each of which makes its recommendations to the full Board of Directors.
Passionate about improving quality of life for Native Americans, PWNA’s Board members volunteer their time and expertise to help PWNA achieve its mission and vision with efficiency and integrity. Our individual Directors are identified below. With the exception of PWNA’s President, all of them are independent voting members of the Board.
2023 Board of Directors
Jackie Blackbird, Chairperson
Jackie is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) and Assiniboine (Nakoda) tribes of Montana's Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Her traditional Aaniih name is 'Itha Gibi That' (translated to English means' Walking Woman'). Jackie graduated from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management with a Bachelor's in business. Currently, Jackie is the Chief Communications Officer for a tribally-owned business on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Island Mountain Development Group (IMDG). Before IMDG, she worked at Nike for eighteen years, spending most of her career managing Nike's N7 Fund, building capacity for sport and physical activity, and providing grants to maintain or expand programming in tribal communities. When not at home with her family and community, Jackie enjoys traveling and attending tribal ceremonies. As part of her give-back to the community, she serves as a Board member for Native Wellness Institute and the Pine Ridge Girls' School. Jackie brings to PWNA her knowledge of tribal communities and experience in partnership building, grants, program management, and strategic planning.
Christina Kazhe, Vice Chairperson
Nationally recognized and respected for her legal expertise in tribal sovereignty, land restorations and federal recognition, Christina is a member of the Navajo Nation and affiliate to the Mescalero Apache Tribe. An attorney, Christina specializes in protecting the interests of Native American communities. Her experience spans Indian Child Welfare advocacy, tribal self-determination, taxation, reservation economic development, gaming law, and environmental and cultural preservation. Before opening her own firm, she practiced federal Indian law with Monteau and Peebles LLP and commercial litigation with Morrison & Foerster LLP. Currently, Christina serves on the Board of Directors for The California Endowment and the Elk Grove Unified School District’s American Indian Education Program. She holds a Juris Doctor from Boalt School of Law at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis. Passionate about our mission, Christina brings multiple skills to PWNA, including legal and public policy expertise, strategic thinking and non-profit leadership.
Corey Mzhickteno, Treasurer
Corey is enrolled with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. He has 14 years in tribal business operations, with experience from front-line employee to casino management, special projects and business expansions, to board member and public liaison. Previously, Corey served 12 years of Active Duty with the U.S. Air Force and is currently a Reservist flight instructor. Corey holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the Washburn University School of Business and a Master’s in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Corey also serves as a board member for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s businesses, which provide financial support and economic development to reservation programs and surrounding communities in Northeast Kansas. Passionate about making a meaningful impact across Indian Country, Corey brings to PWNA skills in tribal business operations, organizational behavior, public service and federal government.
Dr. Nicole Been, Secretary
Dr. Nicole Been (pron. Bean), a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and member of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town and the Deer clan, is recognized for her expertise in sports, Native education and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Recently named to the ‘Native American 40 Under 40’ class by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, she is a cofounder of the Been Foundation focused on youth with socioeconomic challenges. She also cofounded Duck Street Investments, LLC, holds Graduate Faculty status at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and recently became Associate Athletics Director of DEI at the University of Oklahoma. Previously, Dr. Been helped Bacone begin the transition from private institution to tribal college and university (TCU) and implement distance learning, served as Dean of the Division of Indigenous Online Teaching and Learning and held several other roles at the college. An alumnus of OSU, Baylor University, and Bacone where she was on the women's basketball team, Been has deep experience in the world of sports and education, working with Orlando Magic of the NBA, the Baylor Lady Bears basketball program, OSU Athletics, Big 12 Conference women’s basketball tournaments and Langston University Athletics. A three-time published author with a Ph.D. in health, leisure, and human performance from OSU, Dr. Been brings to PWNA strategies to help close the gap in Native educational achievement, economic development and financial literacy in rural and tribal communities, and nonprofit leadership experience.
A former AIEF scholarship recipient, MaKenley is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation tribe. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration from Northeastern State University and Master’s in Healthcare administration from Oklahoma State University. MaKenley has been working in tribal health care since college, completing job shadows and internships at W.W. Hastings Hospital the Cherokee-operated hospital. She started her career with Cherokee Nation Health Services as an Administrative Officer for a value-based care program the tribe participates in and then was promoted to Director of Patient Access Management in which she directed the scheduling and registration departments for the hospital and new outpatient health center. Since 2019, MaKenley has been serving as the Deputy Hospital Administrator for W.W. Hastings Hospital. She always wanted to work in healthcare but more specifically the health care system of her own tribe. MaKenley brings her knowledge of healthcare (rural and tribal), finance, operations and strategic planning to PWNA.
Currently a senior director of Learning and Workforce Development with Disability:IN, Emily accelerates early career talent for professionals with disabilities, oversees the development of educational content for disability inclusion and consults with Disability:IN partner companies through the Inclusion Works program. Formerly a senior leader of Walmart’s Culture, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (CDEI) team, Emily focused on enterprise strategy, brand identity, external relations, digital engagement and benchmarking surveys for the Disability Equality Index and Global Disability Equality Index. Earlier with Walmart, Emily managed corporate strategy and stakeholder outreach for Native Americans and People with Disabilities. During her 12 years at Walmart, she also held roles in corporate communications, associate engagement, data insights and measurement, public relations and philanthropic program management and served on the Tribal Voices: Indigenous Associate Resource Group. Prior to Walmart, Emily served as Executive Director of the Heritage Youth Development Center at the YMCA. In further support of Native youth, Emily serves as co-chair of the American Indian College Fund’s Next Generation Advisory Council to help increase the number of Native students who hold college degrees. She holds a bachelor’s from Missouri Southern State University and her DEI perspective is informed by her experience as a Native Hawaiian - Pacific Islander woman with non-apparent disabilities. Emily brings to PWNA expertise in diversity and inclusion, strategic planning and communications, effectiveness benchmarking and empowerment of women and youth.
Joe is a citizen of the Puyallup Tribe of Tacoma, Washington, with 20 years’ experience in Native American communities as an administrator, teacher and coach. He recently launched Strength-Based Consulting (SBC), a grant writing, capacity building and consulting firm serving Native causes. Prior to SBC, Joe was Executive Director of the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) for six years, drawing on his experience as a culturally responsive researcher, published writer and award-winning coach to more than triple the size of their annual revenue, youth served, programs offered and workforce. Joe believes that when youth sports are done well, they have the power to transform lives and unite communities. As Zuni High School's head football coach, he led the team to three district championships, one district runner up, and a team grade point average better than 3.0 in just four years. He holds a bachelor's in Indigenous Studies from Haskell Indian Nations University, a master's in education from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Kansas. Joe brings to PWNA his skills in research and consulting, along with strategies for helping Native people leverage their strengths in pursuit of their goals.
A leading business development expert with extensive knowledge on institutional wealth for corporations and nonprofits like, he is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Matt currently works with the Bank of Texas as Vice President and Senior Business Development Officer in their corporate division, and earlier with their institutional wealth team. His focus is building teams around middle market business leaders and helping them meet their business' operational goals through his bank or partner network. Prior to Bank of Texas, Matt worked with BOK Financial for eight years, focusing on retirement planning, investments and institutional wealth. He holds a BSBA with a major in Financial Management from Oklahoma State University, Spears School of Business. Besides his passion of connecting people for mutually beneficial relationships, Matt brings to PWNA skills in business development and financial management.
Josh Arce, PWNA President & CEO (non-voting member)
Josh joined PWNA as President & CEO in January 2020 in PWNA’s 30th year of serving Indian country. A citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, he has more than 20 years of experience in education management, social work, and business development. Most recently, he served as Chief Information Officer of Haskell Indian Nations University, advancing their IT infrastructure and services to better meet their mission. Other public sector experience includes tribal law and governance; after-school, youth, foster care and housing programs for low-income families; and diversity and inclusion. Josh has also volunteered for the Kansas court-based Citizen Review Board for child welfare and Lawrence+Memorial Hospital for health equity, diversity, and inclusion. Josh earned his B.A. in social work from the University of Kansas and then a J.D., specializing in tribal law, applied indigenous leadership, federal Indian law and Indian gaming law. Sincere and forward-looking, Josh actively supports the advancement of Native communities.
Misty Rhodes, VP of Administration and Human Resources
Misty Rhodes currently serves as Vice President of Administration and Human Resources for Partnership With Native Americans. Her primary role is creating, enforcing, and evaluating legally compliant human resources policies, procedures, and best practices for PWNA. She also identifies and implements long-range strategic talent management and retention goals for the organization. Misty completed her Master’s degree in Management from Southern Nazarene University, graduating summa cum laude, and her Bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and Administration, from the University of Oklahoma. She is also a certified Lean and Six Sigma Green Belt. Prior to PWNA, Misty served in a dual role for the University of Oklahoma Outreach as both the Contract Administrator for the United States Postal Service Personnel contract at the National Center for Employee Development, and as the Executive Director of Operations responsible for the oversight and general management of all support services for University Outreach. Misty’s proficiency in budgetary and personnel management, problem-solving, and cross-sector coordination enabled her to excel in two key leadership positions where she successfully directed operations valued at $61.7M and managed the day-to-day activities of over 500 University personnel. She also spent 10+ years in the travel and leisure business with the Hertz Corporation where she served in numerous leadership roles including customer relations, billing and rental extensions, fleet, and operations. Misty has 30 years’ experience in managing Operations and Human Resources responsibilities (private, corporate, academia and non-profit). She provides counsel and instruction to PWNA’s Sr. Leadership and all employees regarding policy and procedure, productivity and positive discipline, evaluations, team building and leadership development, coaching and mentoring. Misty brings multiple skills to PWNA and is passionate about the mission and the people we serve.
Julie Solo , Controller
Julie Solo serves as Controller for PWNA and brings more than 20 years of experience in accounting, the last 12 years in nonprofit organizations. Julie is leading day-to-day operations of the general ledger, cash management, accounts payable, payroll, revenue and expense areas, and also overseeing financial reporting, revenue reporting, grants compliance, audits, 990 preparation and the operating budget. This includes ensuring the accuracy of the company's reported financial results and ensuring that reported results comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Prior to PWNA, Julie’s most recent roles were as Controller of Portland Community Health Center, where she oversaw accounting operations and federal grants compliance; Senior Accountant at The Opportunity Alliance in charge of large scales of accounts reconciliations, fundraising gifts reconciliations and month-end reporting; and Accountant for the City of Portland, Maine Social Services. Julie holds a master’s in Accounting from DeVry University in Chicago and a bachelor’s in Business Administration and Accounting from Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. She is proud to support our mission dedicated to the advancement of the Native Americans communities.
Other Key Staff
Jasey Jones: Director, Mission Advancement
Joe Langenderfer: Director, Planned Giving
Amanda Lee: Director, Digital Fundraising
Richard Miller: Director, Programs
Helen Oliff: Director, Communications
Angela Sharp: Director, Development Operations