Cherokee Nation/ Muscogee Creek
Ahniwake Rose has served as the Executive Director of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), since 2012. As the most inclusive Native education organization in the Country, NIEA advocates for educational excellence, opportunity, and equity for all American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students through active support of traditional Native cultures and values.
A Native to Oklahoma, Rose has spent her career with other nonprofits and mission-driven organizations in the education sector. As the Policy Director with the National Congress of American Indians, she led its policy making efforts on education and health. She also ushered in a new era of culturally-based education within the U.S. Department of Education through her work under President Bush’s Executive Order on American Indian and Alaska Native education.
Rose serves on several education and youth related boards, including the National Indian Youth Council. She is a mother of two daughters, Waleah and Tahna and a member of the Cherokee Nation and also of Muscogee descent.
John Around Him
Oglala Sioux Tribe
John Around Him is from the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota and is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He served three years in the U.S. Army, which included a one-year tour in Iraq. Following John’s service in the military, he worked as a counselor-aid at a drug/alcohol treatment facility on his reservation. John attended community college in Boston, MA for two years before applying to Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth he majored in English and minored in Education with a focus on secondary education. He was also admitted into the Dartmouth Teacher Education Program where he received well-supported training in the classroom. Prior to joining the National Indian Education Association, John taught freshmen English for five years at Cristo Jesuit High School, a college preparatory school located in Baltimore, MD. The aim of Cristo Rey is to help disadvantaged youth gain access to college. Today, John maintains his goal of helping Native students gain access to college while working to preserve Native culture and language.
Oglala Sioux Tribe
Diana works on the implementation and assessment of Common Core State Standards, by supporting tribes and Native Communities in their transition to utilize college and career ready standards. Her primary focus is to work closely with Native communities, organizations, and researchers to provide support for community/academic partnerships that affect local and national policy. Previously Diana worked with the Oglala Lakota College Graduate Studies Department to manage the Education Administration Professional Development Grant. Her work realigned the current education Administration curriculum and objectives with national and South Dakota State Educational standards.
Executive Administrative Assistant
Miriam provides support to the NIEA staff in many capacities while overseeing all the administrative functions in the office as the administrative manager. Her responsibilities include coordinating meetings with outside organizations, streamlining and managing NIEA’s contacts and resources, and making sure there is always enough coffee for our hardworking team!
Previously, Miriam has worked in other administrative and development roles including with Dance United in London, England and as an intern with the American Friends Service Committee in Greensboro, NC. Miriam completed her B.A in Peace and Conflict Studies at Guilford College in 2013, before traveling abroad and working in several different service learning internships.
Matt de Ferranti
As NIEA’s Legislative Director, Matt develops, directs, and implements the organization’s work to improve educational outcomes for Native students. Matt comes to NIEA from the Education Trust, where he served as Director of Legislative Affairs during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which culminated in enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Previous advocacy and government relations experience includes work as Policy Counsel for Feeding America and Director of Federal Agency Relations for Habitat for Humanity. Before working in advocacy and government relations, Matt served as an attorney for cities in California and Texas and as Chief of Staff for a Texas State Representative. Matt began his career teaching through Teach for America in Houston’s Fifth Ward.
As Legislative Analyst, Adrianne supports NIEA’s federal and state advocacy for excellence in Native education through policy analysis and research. Adrianne joined NIEA following her graduation from Yale University, where she worked with the Native American Cultural Center and Association of Native Americans at Yale. During her time in college, Adrianne worked at a law firm and served as an intern at the White House.
Tribal and State Policy Manager
At NIEA, Dimple supports the development and facilitation of tribal engagement in states as it relates to the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). She is responsible for building and bridging relationships with key stakeholders including tribal governments, Native education advocates, educators, parents, and district and state leaders to ensure that Native students are supported under ESSA. Dimple joined the NIEA community immediately upon graduating with her Master’s degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University, where she interned with the Bureau of Indian Education. In the past Dimple has also worked as a youth worker and public health advocate.
As NIEA Fellow, Savannah works closely with both the Program and Legislative teams to ensure cultural based and developmentally appropriate standards are implemented in partnership with tribes, schools, and stakeholders. Savannah comes to NIEA from the U.S. House of Representatives, where she worked as the Lead Tribal Policy Aid for Congressman Adam Smith. In her position, she researched, tracked, and advised the Member of Congress on all matters of public policy pertaining to American Indian/ Alaskan Natives. Prior to her time on Capitol Hill, Savannah worked as a Native student liason for the University of Washington and as a youth worker in the Seattle non-profit community.
Associate Director of Communications
As the Associate Director of Communications, Leah Salgado is responsible for NIEA’s national communications strategy. Her focus is on joining Native and non-Native groups together to increase educational opportunities for Native students. Before joining NIEA, Leah worked for Cornell University as the Assistant Director of the Cornell Forensics Department. In her position, she conducted outreach to students in the Cornell and the Ithaca communities, ran a debate program for incarcerated juveniles, and taught workshops on debate and argumentation in South Korea and China.
Jacob Tsotigh, Jr.
Tribal Education Specialist
Jacob S. Tsotigh, Jr. (M.Ed), has been involved in American Indian education programs for the past 38 years specializing in parent committee training, culturally responsive pedagogy, Title VI Indian Education programming, and school improvement. He previously served the South Central Comprehensive Center as Indian Education TA Coordinator in the four state region of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. He served for 12 years as the Indian Education Director for Anadarko (Oklahoma) Public Schools, and countless years serving in the capacity of trainer and providing technical assistance for Indian Education programs. Mr. Tsotigh is past president of the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education (OCIE) and a longtime member of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). He has been married to Alana Quetone Tsotigh, a retired elementary school teacher, for 39 years and has three children and one deceased. He is a 4/4 citizen of the Kiowa Tribe.
Judi Urquhart brings over two decades of fundraising experience to her role as Director of Development. Most recently, she served as Director of Planning and Development for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe where, in a year’s time, she and her team raised over $2 million in federal funding. Prior to that, Judi served as a fundraising consultant at Wakeby Fire and Associates where she raised over $4 million in foundational and federal funds for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Wopanaak Language Reclamation Project and the North American Indian Center of Boston. Judi holds a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Judi will develop and implement a multi-faceted strategy to build and strengthen the organization’s funding base.