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 of Directors is passionate about improving quality of life for Native Americans, and they 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.
2017 Board of Directors
Alyce Sadongei, Chairman
Alyce is a nationally recognized expert in the field of tribal libraries, archives and museums, including Native American repatriation and preservation, museum development and training. Currently with the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona, Alyce is of Kiowa and Tohono O’odham heritage and holds a Bachelor’s in Communications. A poet, writer and editor, her previous roles involved outreach and training for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, executive leadership for a national service supporting the vitality of Native arts, implementing tribal relations for the Arizona State Museum, and grant review for the National Endowment of the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Alyce’s extensive board experience spans the Arizona Humanities Council, Arts for America, Heritage Preservation, the National Emergency Services Review Board, the governor-appointed state board for Historic and Geographic Names and more. Co-founder of the American Indian Museum Collaboration Network, she currently serves on the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Board. She earned the first leadership award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries & Museums and the Director’s Chair Award for national impact from the Western Museums Association. Alyce adds expertise for PWNA in curriculum and program development, grants review and management, tribal engagement and strategic planning.
Christina Kazhe, Vice Chairman
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.
Ann Marie Woessner Collins, Treasurer
Ann Marie is Managing Director of the Business & Economic Incentives practice at Jones Lang LaSalle. A problem solver by nature, she helps companies expand or optimize manufacturing, warehouses, offices, data centers, call centers, and other facilities. She has also held positions with The Staubach Company, KPMG as a Partner, Frito-Lay and PepsiCo, Trammell Crow, 3M, and Dayton Hudson. Ann Marie holds an MBA in finance and a bachelor’s from Texas A&M. At Frito-Lay, she managed the company’s minority business program and has worked with American Indian tribes on projects that begin to build a sustainable economic base. Ann Marie also served as Chairman of the Board for the Dallas Ballet, and previously served on the Board of the Texas Ballet and the Board of Texas CASA for abused children. Anne Marie currently serves on the Board of Oak Hill Montessori and on the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Nikki Pitre, Secretary
Currently working for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Nikki Pitre (Coeur d'Alene Tribe) is the Director of Student Success Programs. Some of the program grants Nikki contributes to include the “College Bound” initiative with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), where tribal colleges partner with their respective BIE feeder schools, and the “Student Success” collaborative with the National Science Foundation to implement project-based learning into tribal college STEM curricula, as well as other programs that support and enhance the tribal college student experience. She also has the honor of serving on the Miss Indian World Committee for the Gathering of Nations, the largest powwow in North America. Prior to joining AIHEC, Nikki helped coordinate bi-annual legislative summits, trade show conventions, mid-year conferences and fundraisers for the National Indian Gaming Association. She earned a bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. Passionate about youth leadership and development, Nikki brings to PWNA experience in higher education, student development, outreach and advocacy for Indian education.
Kevin is a retired business development professional with a specialty in commercial plastics and electrical solutions. Previously with Werner Electric, he studied business and economics in college and values having worked his way up from pouring concrete, to corporate management and international business development in Taiwan, Korea, the UK, and Canada. He has a broad perspective and ability to interact with people of diverse cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, bringing his familiarity with reservation conditions. A lifelong helper, Kevin volunteers with the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Faith’s Lodge of Minnesota.
Leonard J. Smith
Recognized for Native-owned business advocacy and tribal economic development, Leonard is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes. As Founder and Executive Director of Native American Development Corporation, Leonard develops sustainability strategies and partnerships for revenue streams and job creation, supports government contract procurement and assists startup of Native-owned small businesses. Formerly, he founded Native American Manufacturer’s Network generating $50 million in contracts for Native firms and served with the Small Business Administration directing economic partnerships and loans for businesses or farmers and ranchers on Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota reservations. Leonard also served in executive roles for several tribally owned companies, including a holding company, a government-contract manufacturing company and a management consultant firm. Previously awarded for regional economic development and small business advocacy by the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration, Leonard recently completed the Tribal Housing Excellence Academy. He holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Montana State University and complements PWNA’s board with skills in economic and business development, job creation and business strategy.
A member of the Cherokee Nation, MaKenley is a health care professional currently serving as an Administrative Officer at the Cherokee National W. W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In 2008, MaKenley was selected to be a part of the Cherokee Nation Summer Youth program, where she served at the Wilma P. Mankiller Clinic and at the District Attorney’s Office in Stilwell, Oklahoma. MaKenley holds a bachelor’s degree in health care administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and is currently seeking a master’s in health care administration at Oklahoma State University. A former recipient of PWNA’s American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) scholarship and guest speaker to our donors, MaKenley brings multiple skills to PWNA, including the provision of health care, data collection and analysis, financial management and tribal community outreach.
Ronetta (Roni) Keeter Briggs
A co-founder of The Osiyo Group as well as Council House Institute, Roni Briggs has a history of integrating human capital, talent management and market growth strategies and holding leadership roles with major businesses such as General Electric, NEC America, EXCEL Communications and Anderson Consulting. Roni assists tribal governments with strategic planning, economic development and human resources development, and has also served as an adjunct professor for tribal management studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She’s a speaker, trainer and subject matter expert for organizations such as the Native American Human Resources Association, Alaska Native Village CEO Association, National 8(a) Association, Alaska Native Corporations and American Indian Enterprise Development. Roni adds expertise for PWNA in diversity, corporate philanthropy, tribal governance, consulting, marketing, social responsibility and negotiation. A tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Roni resides in Dallas. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in political science, completed entrepreneurial certification for Native-owned businesses through the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and served on the Board of the North Texas Minority Business Development Council.
Tracey is an expert in Native American law and a partner at Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan law firm, where she focuses on tribal/state relations, financial and real estate transactions, and legal/physical infrastructure matters for tribes. Tracey has also served as Executive Director of the South Dakota Equal Justice Commission, President & CEO of First Nations Oweesta Corporation focusing on community development financial institutions (CDFIs), auditor for the South Dakota Department of Labor, and banker for Wells Fargo (formerly Norwest). An adjunct professor of tribal governance and economic development at the University of South Dakota as well as Oglala Lakota College, Tracey holds a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School and a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration and accounting. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, she was in the first cohort of the Bush Foundation Native Nation Rebuilder’s Program. Tracey will add legal and financial acumen, expertise in government funding and program development and a passion for social justice to the PWNA Board.
Robbi Rice Dietrich, PWNA President/CEO (non-voting member)
Robbi joined PWNA as President in 2013. She has 30 years of experience in building positive awareness of organizations and presenting their causes and capabilities to a wide spectrum of public officials, community and business leaders, contributors and the media. Her private sector experience includes work for Frito-Lay, Inc., Ernst & Young, LLP and First Preston Management in the areas of community and media relations, government affairs, organizational development and strategic planning. Committed to supporting diversity and helping people in need, Robbi has held leadership positions on boards of directors with several national, regional and local nonprofit organizations. She currently sits on the Honorary Board of the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, the Senior Advisory Board for the Women’s Business Council - Southwest, and the Board of Trustees for the Episcopal Foundation of Dallas and the Gaston Episcopal Hospital Foundation. Inspirational, forward looking and strategic in her thinking, she leads PWNA in creating and achieving its goals and focusing resources in areas where they can have the most impact on quality of life for Native Americans.
Other Key Staff
Amber Kinney: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Rodney Trahan: Vice President — Development
Rafael Tapia: Vice President — Programs
Alan Silva: Vice President — Administration
Mark Ford: Director — Major Gifts & Partnerships
Helen Oliff: Public Relations Manager