Meet the NIEA Board of Directors



Yatibaey Evans
Ahtna (Athabascan)

Yatibaey Evans is Ahtna (Athabascan) from Mentasta, Alaska, the Head Waters People. She is the daughter of Donna Galbreath from Mentasta and Jeff Mann from Massachusetts. She is the granddaughter of Molly Galbreath from Mentasta and Don Galbreath from Michigan. Yatibaey and Lewis Evans are celebrating their 15th year of marriage, and together they have four wonderful boys.

Yatibaey obtained her Bachelors of Arts Degree from the University of Washington, majoring in Comparative History of Ideas. Johns Hopkins University was where Yatibaey obtained her Masters of Education. After teaching in Maryland, her dreams of returning home to Alaska came to fruition. Yatibaey oversees the Title VII program, Alaska Native Education (ANE), in Fairbanks, Alaska. Additionally, she is an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Alaska Native Studies at Rural Development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In addition to her work in education, Yatibaey serves as President of the National Indian Education Association board and is on of United Way Board of Directors and Secretary of the BoD, volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters, has helped plan for First Alaskans’ Elders and Youth Conferences, and the Rural Providers Conference.

Throughout the years Yatibaey has implemented culture within core content. She has developed a successful Literacy Challenge for all students in the urban school district, challenging them to learn about Native Leaders in the community and their culture. Additionally, she had helped expand students’ repertoire about Native culture embedded with science. Many students now embark on projects depicting the cultural components within their science fair projects. Furthermore, the Native Youth Olympics component of ANE has expanded from one team to seven in the span of 4 years. The professional development that Yatibaey has brought to educators in Fairbanks and at the annual NIEA convention have been excellent experiences by attendees. A comment made by a teacher after a training was, “This was one of the most meaningful and quality back-to-school in-service trainings I have received in my 14 years in the school district!”


Dr. Jolene Bowman
Stockbridge Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians

Dr. Bowman’s strong conviction for equality in Indigenous education is what drives her compassion to work collaboratively at removing barriers and improving the education experience for Indigenous peoples at all levels of academia. She believes that education for American Indians is an essential factor in preserving tribal nations through adversary in this century and the centuries to come.

Dr. Bowman has 23 years of tribal work experience including being the Director of Education, Employment, and Training for the past nine years. She holds a state early childhood teaching license and actively serves on the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and the Wisconsin Tribal Education Board of Directors. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, shopping, and going to pow-wows. She actively spends time and cares for her grandmother or, as Jolene observes, is it more like her grandmother takes care of Jolene.


Dr. Sylvia Hussey
Native Hawaiian
Vice President

Dr. Hussey is currently the Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council (NHEC).  Established in 1988 under the Native Hawaiian Education Act, the statutory responsibilities of the Native Hawaiian Education Council are to ‘Coordinate, Assess, and Report & Make Recommendations’ on the effectiveness of existing education programs for Native Hawaiians.  Prior to NHEC, Dr. Hussey spent 12 years at Kamehameha Schools (KS) and was responsible for education group and organization wide support functions; and she has over 20 years of commercial auditing, accounting and finance experiences in a wide variety of industries.

Dr. Hussey received her Doctor of Education (EdD) in Professional Educational Practice and Masters in Education Foundations from the University of Hawai`i (UH); she also has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Brigham Young University.  Dr. Hussey is an adjunct faculty member and community field mentor for the UH Masters and EdD programs, respectively.


Renee Holt

Renée Holt, PhD, is Dine/Nimiipuu and currently works with the Clearinghouse on Native Teaching and Learning at Washington State University (WSU). A mother of 3, she is newly minted from the WSU College of Education, her area of research focuses on Indigenous methodologies & language and decolonization. renée works in teacher training with pre and in-service teachers in culturally responsive curriculum within WA state public school systems and tribal nations using the Since Time Immemorial tribal sovereignty curriculum.


Angie Butler
Confederated Tribes of Siletz

Ms Butler is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon. She advocates for equitable access to education and services for tribal members with disabilities. Ultimately her efforts address the ongoing disparities that exist within systems and promote change and equity.

Ms Butler has several years of experience working in Indian Country in a variety of fields, which include: child welfare, prevention, cessation, education, vocational rehabilitation and policy development. Butler is currently the Director for the Siletz Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program. In addition, she serves on the Oregon’s Governor State Independent Living Council, participates in the Portland State University Rehabilitation Advisory Board,  and served for three years on the Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation Board as the education committee chair.

Butler received her BS in Social Sciences from Portland State University and her MEd in Education and Curriculum Development from the University of Oregon. She enjoys running, yoga, hiking, days at the beach, family and social time with friends.


Robin Butterfield
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Chippewa

Robin Butterfield (Winnebago/Chippewa) has over 45 years of experience in Native education. She has been a teacher; a district administrator; worked in several Indian education offices and regional educational technical assistance centers in the Northwest; and the BIA. Retired from the NEA, she is currently writing for the National Indian Parent Center (NAPTAC) which supports Special Education Centers. She is a proud parent of three children; all graduated from the University of Oregon.



Patricia Whitefoot
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
General Board Member

Born and raised in the original homelands of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Patricia Whitefoot lives in White Swan, WA where she was raised by her maternal grandparents. She continues to live in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains range where early lessons were grounded in the natural environment. Family travels along the Columbia River, bordering Oregon and Washington, to fish and gather the traditional foods fostered a deep relationship with extended family and the diverse landscapes.

At the urging of her grandmother, Patsy obtained a B.A. with a Teaching Certificate in Education from Central Washington University in Ellensburg. WA and a M.A. from Ft. Wright College in Spokane, WA. For 40 years, she has managed Indian Education and community mobilization programs from preschool to higher education at the tribal, state and national level. Currently, she is the director of the “Palatisha Miyanashma” Indian Education Program and Yakama Reservation Wellness Coalition. Patsy serves as the Education Chair of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (62 Tribes) which she has facilitated for almost 20 years.

She has three children who all graduated from White Swan High School on the Yakama Reservation and ten grandchildren. In rearing her children and supporting extended family, she is impressed in the Native children’s natural gift for learning. In her role as an educator, she advocates her ancestors’ vision of holistic health, environmental and spiritual well-being with origins steeped in the diverse Native languages, values, cultures and histories of the Americas.


Robert Cook
Oglala Sioux Tribe (Oglala Lakota)
General Board Member

Robert Cook, an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, is the Senior Managing Director of Teach For America’s Native Alliance Initiative. His career spans over 20 years as a teacher and administrator in American Indian education. Prior to joining TFA, Cook was the principal of Pine Ridge High School in South Dakota. He has also served as former president and board member of the National Indian Education Association (2006-09) and a member of the board for both the South Dakota Education Association and the South Dakota Indian Education Association. Cook currently serves on the Technical Review Panel of the National Indian Education Study.

Cook is the recipient of many teaching awards, including South Dakota’s 2005 Milken National Educator and NIEA’s 2006 Teacher of the Year. Additionally, Cook has been named one of Black Hills State University’s 125 Most Accomplished Alumni.

Cook received a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Black Hills State University and a Master’s degree in education administration from Oglala Lakota College. He is married to Daphne Richards-Cook and they have two sons.


Fredina Drye-Romero
Kaibab Band of Paiute
General Board Member

An enrolled member of the Kaibab Band of Paiute and a descendent of the Moapa Band of Paiute, she holds a BA from Haskell Indian Nations University and a MS from the University of Kansas. At the Nevada Department of Education, she serves as the Education Programs Professional for Indian Education. She serves on the Haskell Foundation Board; Indian Education Advisory Board and Region IX Equity Assistance Center Advisory Board at WestEd; and the Indian Education Advisory Committee for Nevada.



TaNeel Filesteel
Aaniih and Nakoda Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community

TaNeel Filesteel ‘Chiiwakaalachiish’, is an enrolled member of the Aaniih and Nakoda Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, and is currently a student at Penn State University majoring in Political Science. She has previously attended the Harvard University Summer School Program, while serving as an intern for the Harvard University Native American Program, and is the founder of the Childhood Nations Literacy Project. As a result of her efforts and accomplishments, TaNeel was selected by the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) organization for the ‘25 Under 25’ Inaugural youth leadership award. More recently, TaNeel has been inducted into the Cobell Scholars Program for her academic achievements and dedication to becoming a lawyer specializing in American Indian law, where she will be able to assist the First People of this nation towards self-determination and sovereignty.


Caitlin Tozier
Nome Eskimo Community (Iñupiaq)

Caitlin Auktweena Tozier is an Iñupiaq from Nome, Alaska. She is a junior at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, pursuing degrees in Education and Mathematics. Caitlin plans to teach at the elementary level in rural Alaska. She coaches Native Youth Olympics for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. She was recently selected to travel to Caen, France where she participated in the American Normandy Festival demonstrating Arctic Sports and sharing her traditional lifestyle.