The unemployment rate on reservations ranges from 35% to 85%.

Making An Impact

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.

2020 Board of Directors

Christina Kazhe

Christina Kazhe, 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.

Jackie Blackbird photo

Jackie Blackbird, Vice Chairman

Jackie is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) and Assiniboine (Nakoda) tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation of Montana. Her traditional Aaniih name is ‘Itha Gibi That' translated to mean “Walking Woman.” Jackie graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and earned a Bachelor's in business. Currently, she is a member of Nike’s Global Diversity & Inclusion team, serving as Program Manager, and prior to this managed the N7 Fund for Nike. Her work with the N7 Fund helped build capacity for sport and physical activity and provide grants to maintain or expand programming in tribal communities. When Jackie is not at home with her family and community, she stays busy serving as a Board member for Native Wellness Institute, Native Americans in Philanthropy and the Pine Ridge Girls School. Jackie brings to PWNA her knowledge of tribal communities, experience in partnership building, grants and program management and strategic planning.

Kevin Diepholz

Kevin Diepholz, Secretary

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.

Alyce Sadongei

Alyce Sadongei

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.

Ann Marie Woessner-Collins

Ann Marie Woessner Collins

Ann Marie is Executive Vice President of Savills, one of the world’s leading real estate service providers and advisors. She is known for decades of experience in commercial real estate, as well as expertise in manufacturing, energy, finance, legal and operational cost management and was recognized as the “Top Woman in Business” for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in 2014. She spent 17 years as Managing Director at Jones Lang LaSalle and The Staubach Company, founding the Business and Economic Incentives team in North America, negotiating with state and local governments to change legislation in 15 states, and helping companies expand or optimize manufacturing, warehouses, offices, data centers, call centers, and R&D facilities. Prior to JLL, she was a partner at KPMG Peat Marwick and at Frito-Lay directed Purchasing, Energy and Economic Incentives, including minority businesses and working with American Indian tribes on projects that begin to build a sustainable economic base. Ann Marie holds an MBA in finance and a bachelor’s in psychology. Ann Marie also served as Chairman of the Board for the Dallas Ballet and previously served on the Board of the Texas Ballet Theatre. Other board service includes Texas CASA for abused children, Oak Hill Montessori and Elder at Presbyterian Church of the Way.

Carla Knapp

Carla Knapp

Carla currently serves as Vice President of Native Services with the Boys & Girls Club of America (BCGA). She worked her way into the executive ranks, starting with chartering the Penobscot BGC in Maine and serving as its Chief Professional Officer. In this role, Carla partnered with five federally recognized tribes to expand BCGA programming for Native youth. She later served as Director of Organizational Development to assist BGCA clubs on Native lands and then as the National Director of Native Services. A tribal citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation, and originating through the Bear Clan, Carla has received numerous honors, including the 2013 Maytag Leadership Award honoring dependable leaders throughout the BGCA movement, the Executive Director’s Award for outstanding performance and the BGCA Native Service to Youth Award. With more than 15 years of senior level nonprofit experience, Carla brings to the PWNA Board leadership and strategic vision, program development and a passion for improving the lives of Native youth and communities.

Nicole Pitre

Nikki Pitre

Currently working for the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute, Nikki Pitre (Coeur d'Alene Tribe) is the Program Manager. Some of the programs Nikki manages are the Champions for Change and the Youth Advisory Board. Nikki supports the executive director in program development and is the chief strategist for youth engagement at CNAY. Prior to CNAY, Nikki worked at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). She also has the honor of serving on the Miss Indian World Committee for the Gathering of Nations, the largest powwow in North America. She earned a bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies from the University of Washington in Seattle, and is a current graduate student at the University of Oklahoma pursuing her masters in legal studies with a focus on Indigenous Peoples Law. Nikki brings to PWNA experience in grant management, youth and student services, advocacy and strong connections throughout Indian country.

Joshua Arce

Joshua Arce, PWNA President/CEO (non-voting member)

Josh joined PWNA as President & CEO in January 2020 in our 30th year of serving Indian country. A citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, he has more than 20 years’ 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. Arce 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.

Other Key Staff
Amber Kinney: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Rafael Tapia: Vice President, Programs
Misty Rhodes: VP, Administration & HR
Mark Ford: Director, Major Gifts & Partnerships
Alicia Searfoss: Internet & Direct Mail Fundraising Manager
Helen Oliff: Director, Communications