NIEA Board of Directors Election Process

To find out more about the NIEA Board of Directors Election Procedure, please click here.

The NIEA Board of Directors consists of twelve seats held by ten General Board Members and two Student Board Members. Both General Board Members and Student Board Members serve staggered terms on the Board of Directors. General Board Members elected in 2019 will serve a four-year term and Student Board Members will serve a two-year term. All members of the Board of Directors must remain members in good standing for the duration of their term.

For the 2019 Board of Directors election, there will be four (4) vacancies:

  •  One (1) General Board Member representing the Southeast Region. Qualified candidates must reside within the NIEA Southeast Region (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA); and
  • Two (2) General Board Members representing the At-Large community. Qualified candidates may reside anywhere within the United States; and
  • One (1) Student Board Member.

2019 NIEA Board of Directors Candidates

At-Large General Board Member Candidates

Jason Dropik - Photo - At Large

Jason Dropik

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe

Jason P. Dropik is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. He currently serves as the Head of School at the Indian Community School, just outside of Milwaukee, WI. Growing up as an Urban American Indian has 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. The Indian Community School serves over 365 students from over 30 different tribes. 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.

Julian Guerrero, Jr. - Photo - At Large

Julian Guerrero Jr.

Comanche & Kiowa 

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. In his role, he managed to expand the American Indian Education Office from one to six total personnel within less than a year. He coordinated among dozens of tribal nations, the revision of the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Social Studies, resulting in the quadrupling of explicit references to tribal sovereignty starting as early as third grade through twelfth.

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.

Ramona Halcomb - Photo - At Large

Ramona Halcomb

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Ramona Halcomb is an enrolled tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. She has over 25 years of experience working in Education, currently serving as the Oregon Department of Education’s Indian Education Specialist. In this capacity she provides information, resources and technical assistance on educational matters to schools, communities and state employees. Mona specializes in reducing chronic absenteeism with administration of the Tribal Attendance Promising Practices grant. Mona works closely with State Education agencies, the 9 federally recognized tribes in Oregon and native communities and organizations in an effort to close the opportunity gap for American Indian Alaska Native students. Prior to joining the Oregon Department of Education, Mona served as the education director for her tribe and worked in both two and four year higher education institutions to support students’ academic pursuits. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior and her Master’s degree in Cultural Studies with a focus on the Native American Opportunity Gap.

Brandon Thoms - Photo - At Large

Brandon Thoms

Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Brandon Thoms owns and operates Torchlight Consulting, a Native American PR firm located in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. Torchlight has helped tribes and tribal organizations to develop communications and PR programs. Brandon works with schools and universities to develop and deliver Native culture and history curriculum.

Brandon has dedicated his life to effectuating social change within Native communities. Having fought for Chippewa treaty rights, he has a strong history of activism. He has worked to address the need for historically accurate Native curriculum.

Brandon is a published artist and writer, with works included in Senator John Edwards’ book titled, Home-The Blueprints of Our Lives. He appeared in the 1995 PBS film, Lighting the 7th Fire, a feature on Chippewa Treaty Rights in the 1980s –1990s.

Brandon’s tribal affiliation includes the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and Eastern Band of Cherokee of North Carolina.

Anderson Yazzie Jr - Photo - At Large

Anderson Yazzie Jr. 


Ya’ah’teeh/Hello, my name is Anderson Yazzie, Jr. I am Diné/Navjao of the Tó’heedliiinii/Water Flows Together Clan, born for the Dibéłizhini/Blacksheep Clan. My Maternal Clan is of the Tódich’ii’nii/Bitter Water and my Paternal Clan is of the Tábaahi/Water’s Edge. I am originally from the community of Chinle, Arizona, a graduate of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona with a Master Degree in Education: School Counseling. I am currently seeking potential higher educational institutes to begin my journey in a Doctoral program of choice.

Currently, I am employed with the Arizona Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant. This State administered grant has allowed growth and ensures direct collaboration among the Federal Government (U.S. Department of Education), the State of Arizona (Arizona Department of Education), and Arizona local educational agencies (charter/public schools) in areas of Academics, Youth Development, and Family Engagement support. I also serve as a Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Grant School funded Navajo Nation Board member with Navajo Preparatory School Inc. in Farmington, NM. Navajo Preparatory School is the first Native American BIE grant school authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

As the eldest of four children and the first in my family to complete with a Graduates degree, the importance of education continues to resonate in my family lineage. My late grandmother, Ms. Louise Tah, laid the foundation of learning for both the Navajo traditions and western education from home to school to promote a comfortable sustaining lifestyle. Her education may have been limited but she was rich in traditional learning and open to continuous learning through life’s experiences. My grandma Tah, as we called her, used life’s obstacles to demonstrate strength, humility, respect, and truth. Her teachings to this day have developed who I am and to always know who I am.

Southeast General Board Member Candidate

Connie Locklear - Photo - Southeast

Connie Locklear

Lumbee Tribe

Dr. Connie Locklear is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe and 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 (AI) 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.

Student Board Member Candidate

Jaylyn Suppah - Photo - Student

Jaylyn Suppah

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation

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.

Traditional teachings and cultural knowledge paired with trauma informed education and mental health awareness are what makes Jaylyn unique. As a former elected Tribal leader, she was a bright light in our community. Using her education and experience to help guide others, while remaining empathetic and positive. It’s the tie to her ancestors and her vision for our children that make her a wonderful candidate for the NIEA board.

Regional Representation

In October 2018, the NIEA membership amended the Constitution and By-Laws to require regional representation on the NIEA Board of Directors. To comply with these new requirements, the NIEA Board of Directors is currently in the process of transitioning to a Board that consists of the following:

  • Six (6) Regional Board Members elected to represent one of the following regions, within which the Board Member is required to reside—West, Alaska, Great Plains, Hawaiʻi, Southeast, and Northeast; and
  • Four (4) At-Large General Board Members elected to represent Native students throughout the United States. At-Large seats may be filled by a qualified candidate, regardless of where they live within the United States.

 Map of NIEA BOD Regions 2

Major Board of Directors Responsibilities

Meetings and Commitments of NIEA Board Members
Board members are required to:

  • Participate in regularly scheduled monthly Board meetings.
  • Serve on at least 2 standing committees and attend monthly committee meetings.
  • Travel to attend special events or meetings, e.g. Legislative Summit, Annual Convention, as they are determined.
  • Make a financial contribution and seek out other ways to ensure the fiscal stability of the organization.

 General Expectations of NIEA Board Members

  • Active engagement in Board business, i.e. participate in all Board meetings and in committee work.
  • Knowledge of the organization’s mission, purpose, goals, policies, programs and services, strengths, and needs.
  • Understand and uphold the policies and procedures of NIEA.
  • Help communicate and positively promote NIEA’s mission and programs to the community.
  • Gain familiarity with NIEA finances, budget, and financial/resource needs.
  • Meaningfully contribute to NIEA’s fundraising efforts.
  • Assist NIEA with creating sponsorship and partnership opportunities.

Board of Directors Election Rules

Election Procedures

  • Election of Board of Directors will be held on-site at the NIEA Convention. Election procedures will be in accordance with election procedures established and published by the NIEA Board of Directors. Election of BOD will be by vote of eligible members of NIEA. Each voting member shall be entitled to one vote; proxy votes shall not be allowed.

Voting On-Site | Friday, October 11, 2019

  • On-site elections will be conducted onsite at the designated voting area.
  • Voting members of NIEA are entitled to one vote only.

Voting by Absentee Ballot | Due Tuesday, October 8, 2019 by 12am EST

  • Individuals who have paid their 2019 membership may request absentee ballots if they are unable to attend the 2019 Convention.
  • Absentee ballots must be submitted by October 8, 2019.
  • Please e-mail the NIEA office to request an absentee ballot at

Election Results

  • The process of tabulating the official votes for Board of Directors candidates will adhere to Article IV of the NIEA Constitution, and all votes will be tabulated on-site by the NIEA Board Ombudsman, Governance Committee, and/or their designates.
  • The candidates with the highest number of votes will be offered a seat on the new of Board Directors.
  • Election results will be announced at the final General Assembly.

 Election Challenge Procedure

  • If there is a challenge to the election results, it must be filed with the NIEA Ombudsman by 12:00 pm CST on Saturday, October 12, 2019. In the event of an election challenge, the NIEA Board of Directors will convene a meeting to address any challenges.

Contact the NIEA Office with any questions at (202) 544-7290 or