The unemployment rate on reservations ranges from 35% to 85%.
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, 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, 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’ (which translated to English means ‘Walking Woman’). Jackie graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management with a Bachelor's in business. For two years, Jackie was a member of Nike’s Global Diversity & Inclusion team, serving as Program Manager. Prior to that, she managed 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 is 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 and experience in partnership building, grants, program management, and strategic planning.
Ann Marie Woessner Collins, Treasurer
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.
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.
Corey is affiliated with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation of Kansas and the Citizen Band Potawatomi of Oklahoma. He has 12 years’ experience in tribal business operations, from front-line employee to physical upgrade projects and Board governance. Previously, Corey served at Headquarters Air Education & Training Command (AETC), where he focused on innovation and work culture in flight training, national events, Congressional inquiries and Airforce communications. Corey began his military career in 2005 with the ROTC and after 12 years decided to dedicate more time to serving the needs of tribal communities. Corey holds a bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting from the Washburn University School of Business in Kansas and a master’s in Aeronautical Science with an emphasis in Aviation Safety from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Corey has also served as a board member for Prairie Band Casino & Resort, which provides financial support to reservation programs and surrounding communities. Passionate about making a meaningful impact across Indian Country, Corey brings to PWNA skills in business operations, event planning and public service.
Nikki’s Indian name is khwhele’ (Meadow Lark). She is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and of the Red Bird Clan. She is also Kalispel, Yakama, Nisqually, Cowlitz and Squaxin Island. Currently, Nikki is Acting Executive Director of the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute. She leads overall operations, grants, reporting and budgeting, conducts fundraising and donor relations, and oversees all CNAY youth engagement initiatives and the Youth Advisory Board. Previously, Nikki served as Associate Director and Program Manager at CNAY, and in various capacities from Coordinator to Director at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Her entire life, Nikki has worked on behalf of her people. Her biggest inspiration comes from her daughter Aplnmarimn’tsu’tn (Carries the Medicine). Nikki maintains her culture through language, ceremony and honoring the teachings passed on to her. She also has the honor of serving on the Miss Indian World Committee for the Gathering of Nations, the largest powwow in North America. Nikki brings to PWNA experience in grant management, youth and student services, advocacy and strong connections throughout Indian country.
Raymond (“Ray”), is Executive Director for the Nakoda-Aaniiih Credit Agency (NACC) and he’s affiliated with the Assiniboine Sioux on the Fort Belknap Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Reservation in Montana. Ray is known for his experience in operations development and process improvement, economic and financial management, business incubation and capacity building with NACC and Native American organizations. His current projects include developing infrastructure for a sawmill and forest management operation, creating a small business incubator center and working with Fort Belknap Tribal Administration to build the capacity of tribal departments and entrepreneurs. Ray holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a major in Operations Management from Eastern Washington University, and a CDFI certification with a focus on financial management from NeighborWorks Native Community Development Financial Institution Practitioner Program. He also serves as a member of The Montana Forest Action Advisory Council and the Montana Cooperative Development Center’s Revolving Loan Fund Committee. A Marine Corps veteran who served in Desert Storm, Ray is passionate about promoting self-sufficiency, education and capacity building among Native American communities.
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