Meet the NIEA Board of Directors



Marita Hinds
Tesuque Pueblo

Marita Hinds is a member of Tesuque Pueblo and a mother of two adult daughters. She comes from a family of artists, and grew up with parents who strongly encouraged higher education. She is a very active member in her tribal community. She has a degree in Museum Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History. She worked in higher education at the Institute of American Indian Arts for a cumulative period of 18 years. She currently works at her Pueblo’s Tribal Grant school, Te Tsu Geh Oweenge School. She sits on various advisory committee’s in the Santa Fe community and does consulting work.


Jason Dropik
Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
1st Vice President

Jason P. Dropik  serves as the Head of School at the Indian Community School, just outside of Milwaukee, WI. Growing up as an Urban American Indian provided Mr. Dropik with a wealth of experiences working to support Native Education, Community Engagement, Language Revitalization, and Policy Development. He was a member or the first graduating class the Federal Program Urban American Indian Teacher Training program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He went on to serve in Public schools supporting American Indian Students and inclusive practices to benefit all. He returned to the Indian Community School to serve as a middle school math teacher while completing his administrative degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University. He served as Associate Principal for two and half years before being named Interim Head of School before officially being offered the Head of School position. He has dedicated this work to building strong relationships grounded in a strong Native Identity, Language, and academic excellence. Mr. Dropik has served as WIEA alternate, Milwaukee Indian Education Committee Member, Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education Board Member, and countless committees, volunteer opportunities, and community partnerships. He leads with compassion, thoughtfulness, integrity, and pride of his Native Identity with all who he serves.


Darrick Franklin
2nd Vice President

Mr. Darrick Franklin is from the Diné (Navajo) tribe from Twin Lakes, New Mexico.  He graduated from Tohatchi High School in Tohatchi, New Mexico.  He earned is Bachelors of Science degree from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona and minored in Navajo.  Mr. Franklin also attended San Diego State University and earned a Master’s of Science degree in Education, Specialization in School Counseling.


Dr. Sylvia Hussey
Native Hawaiian

Dr. Hussey currently serves as the Ka Pou Nui, Chief Operating Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).  As a quasi-State agency, OHA’s mission is to mālama (care for) Hawaii’s people and environmental resources and OHA assets, to ensure the perpetuation of the culture, enhancement of lifestyle and the protection of entitlements of Native Hawaiians.  OHA is here to—-Ho’oulu Lāhui Aloha—raise a beloved nation.  Prior to OHA, Sylvia was the Executive Director at the Native Hawaiian Education Council (NHEC) where she guided the design and implementation of the Council’s strategic plan including its research, assessment, evaluation and data strategies, in fulfillment of the NHEC’s statutory responsibilities. Sylvia also spent 12 years at Kamehameha Schools with operating responsibilities and oversight of the admissions, financial aid, scholarship, ancestry verification, community resources, education and information technology, human resources and project management functions.  She received her Doctorate of Education in Professional Educational Practice and Master of Education from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa; earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Brigham Young University–Hawai’i.


Dr. Lori Quigley
Seneca Nation of Indians

Lori Quigley is Vice President for Academic Affairs at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY, is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, wolf clan, and has a Ph.D. in Language, Learning and Literacy. Lori received a Presidential appointment (2004) to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, serving as Chair until 2010, was advisor on the documentary, Unseen Tears: The Impact of Native American Residential Boarding Schools (2009), and has received awards for her contributions to the Native communities in WNY. Lori helps communities maintain their indigenous languages, and chaired the 13th Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium, and publishes/presents research on indigenous languages, multicultural trauma, and indigenous women’s leadership roles.


Michael Vendiola
General Board Member

Michael Vendiola (Swinomish/Lummi/Visayan) is the Program Supervisor for the Office of Native Education (ONE) at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. ONE oversees the implementation of the Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State curriculum, the State’s State-Tribal Education Compact schools (STECs), and provides consultation and support to Tribal and Indian Education programs across the state. Vendiola served previously as the Swinomish Communications director, a coordinator/activities adviser at Western Washington University, and the director of student activities at Northwest Indian College, totaling over 20 years in education. He earned a master’s degree in adult education administration from Western Washington University, and also earned his bachelor’s in American Cultural Studies from Western Washington.


Brian Jackson
Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
General Board Member

Brian Jackson is an enrolled member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. A veteran of the Army National Guard, he currently works as the Behavioral Health Director on the Cultural Connections team at the Lac Du Flambeau Public School. Brian is the President of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and has been a member of the Board since 2005. With inspiration from his wife and five children, Brian believes that you need to teach in a manner that respects and cares for the strong identity of our students and families. Brian is currently enrolled in a Doctoral program on Indigenous Education, Teaching, and Learning at the University of Minnesota.


Bernadine Atchison
Kanaitze Dena’ina 
General Board Member

Bernadine Atchison  is  a Kenaitze Dena’ina Tribal Member, mother of 3, grandmother of 7, which 4 of them she is guardian of.  She follows her Grandmother’s footsteps in holding strong to the Traditional Tribal roots of sovereignty and that education is the key to many of our challenges today.  In the past she sat on the Alaska Indigenous Human Rights Tribunal, was the Cultural Heritage Director for The Kenaitze Indian Tribe,  received a National Award for “Windows to the Past”, and was key in the development of the Dena’ina Language and Cultural Revitalization Program.  Currently she sits as the Vice Chair of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe (KIT) Chair of their Education Committee, Chair of TERO Commission, and KIT’s Tribal Representative for the OCS (Office of Children’s Services) Compact with the State of Alaska.


Dr. Connie Locklear
Lumbee Tribe
Southeast Regional Board Member

Dr. Connie Locklear is the Director of Indian Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County. She supervises 34 staff members, provides various educational opportunities for students, and shares culturally relevant professional development for administrators, teachers, parents, as well as tribal and community leaders. Dr. Locklear has been able to develop partnerships with various entities in order to bring additional opportunities to American Indian  students and works well with the local tribe. Prior to her current position, she served the district as the Math and Science Curriculum Supervisor where she worked closely with the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction to provide educational best practices to teachers with the goal of improving teaching and learning. Dr. Locklear spent several years working with the North Carolina Teacher Academy where she provided professional development to educators across the state. She has also worked as an adjunct professor in the math department and as a classroom teacher. Dr. Locklear has served on various boards during her career; she currently serves as the Chairperson of the State Advisory Council on Indian Education, Chairperson for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Student Service Enrichment Program Advisory Committee, UNC-Pembroke First American Teacher Education (FATE) Advisory Council, Intertribal Talking Circle Substance Abuse Prevention Native Youth Grant (NIH Funded) Community Partnership Board and was appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly for the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission. She also serves on various dissertation committees.


Julian Guerrero, Jr.
Comanche and Kiowa
At-Large General Board Member

Julian Guerrero is the Executive Director of American Indian Education at the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). As executive director, he convenes both tribal and state K-12 educational policy leaders to further the outcomes for over 130,000 American Indian students in Oklahoma. Julian is a tireless advocate for stronger tribal consultation policy, and works closely among state and local educational agency leadership to ensure programs are meeting the needs of American Indian students in Oklahoma. Julian values the role of Tribal Education Departments as he has previously worked in the nonprofit sector as a former Associate Director of the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA). In addition to his full-time duties at the OSDE, Julian serves as an appointed Gaming Commissioner for the Comanche Nation Gaming Commission since April 2017, where he oversees the regulatory compliance of 4.5 Comanche gaming facilities across Southwest Oklahoma. Whether in his work at the state capitol, volunteering on weekends for the Oklahoma City YMCA Youth and Government Program, or conducting regulatory business for the Comanche Nation; Julian is a fervent believer in the future of tribal sovereignty and the future of all sovereign tribal nations.


Jaylyn Suppah
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation
Student Board Member

Jaylyn Suppah is a Warm Springs, Wasco, Shoshone Bannock, and Takama mother raising two children. Her Indian name is Alish, which was given to her from her grandmother. She has an associate’s degree from Portland Community College and is currently attending Evergreen State College where she is working towards her bachelor’s degree. She has working in many fields and contributor in many capacities to the community of Warm Springs, but most notable she managed the Papalaxsimisha program, incorporating life building skills for Native youth, also teaching about the impacts of historical trauma and historical healing and self-identity. She has served on the Education committee for the Tribe, the Cascade East Area Health Education center advisory board, the Oregon Indian Education Association board and the American Indian/Alaska Native Advisory Council through the Oregon Department of Education.


Savannah Romero
Eastern Shoshone
Student Board Member

Savannah is a member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe and is currently earning her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Affairs from New York University. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a NIEA Fellow / Project Manager where she developed and managed the NIEA Teacher Initiative – an effort to recruit, retain and equip teachers in Native-serving schools with culturally responsive resources needed to meet the unique needs of Native students. Before joining NIEA, Savannah worked at the U.S. House of Representatives as the Scheduler and Lead Tribal Policy Aide for a Washington State Member of Congress. In this position, she researched, tracked, and advised the Member of Congress on all matters of public policy pertaining to American Indian/ Alaskan Natives. Before moving to D.C., she served at a youth mentoring non-profit in Seattle while finishing her degree from the University of Washington. Savannah has taught and engaged in numerous youth programs across Washington State. In 2013 and 2014, she delivered the keynote addresses for the College Success Foundation and the Costco Scholarship Foundation on adversity and youth empowerment. After earning her Master’s degree, she intends to serve Native and non-Native entities in partnership with tribal, federal and state governments as a policy expert, ensuring Native communities are properly included and able to improve the well-being of their communities. Savannah is an advocate for culturally responsive education, honoring community knowledge, investing in our youth, and enhancing and protecting tribal self-determination.