Diana Cournoyer
Oglala Sioux Tribe
Executive Director

Direct Number: (202) 847-0033
E-mail: dcournoyer@niea.org

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.


Kurrinn Abrams
Seneca Nation of Indians
Education Specialist

Direct Number: (202) 847-0034
E-mail: kabrams@niea.org

Kurrinn Abrams (M.A.) supports the recruitment and retention of highly qualified educators to serve in schools with high Native student populations by managing the Educator Initiative Project and job board. Through the Educator Initiative Project, she additionally works to provide professional learning services for teachers, tribal leadership, and stakeholders through workshops and trainings, online learning, and community outreach methods. Kurrinn additionally works collaboratively with the Program Team on multiple educational programs and grants, by researching and defining educational goals, objectives, and methodologies; planning and designing curricula; and developing effective educational pathways and educational models controlled by Native communities, in order to promote sovereignty in education.

During her Master’s of Education program at Columbia University, Kurrinn worked in a variety of educational spheres, both locally and nationally, as not only a teacher, but also while working at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Post Secondary Education. Kurrinn comes directly to NIEA following her work in curriculum development on the Partnerships team at The Opportunity Network, a non-profit organization based in NYC that ignites the drive, curiosity, and agency of underrepresented students on their paths to and through college and into thriving careers, powered by OppNet’s commitment to access and community.

For more information about the Educator Initiative Project, or to post open positions in your school, please contact me at teachnative@niea.org.


Rusty Creed Brown
Lenape (Delaware Tribe of Indians)
Field Operation Specialist

Direct Number: (202) 847-0035
E-mail: rbrown@niea.org

Rusty’s role as the Field Operations Specialist is to support the facilitation, establishment, and maintenance of relationships among schools, tribes, and other stakeholders. Rusty served as Osage Nation’s Natural Resource Specialist, and its Child Support Enforcement Director. He worked with the Sac and Fox Nation as its Policy Analyst and Tribal Administrator. In Alaska, he was a community outreach liaison with villages along the Chukchi Sea and the North Slope. Rusty received his BS, in Natural Science, from the University of Alaska Anchorage; and received a JD and MS from the University of Tulsa; concentrating on Native American and Indigenous Peoples Rights.


Miriam Davis-Rosenbaum
Operations and Office Manager

Direct Number: (202) 847-0032
E-mail: mdavisrosenbaum@niea.org

Miriam provides support to the NIEA staff in many capacities while overseeing all the administrative functions in the office as the operations manager. Her responsibilities include handling the payroll functions and healthcare administration for staff, streamlining and managing NIEA’s contacts and resources, and providing support for NIEA’s annual convention and events during the year.

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.


Adrianne Elliott
Cherokee Nation
Senior Legislative Associate

Direct Number: (202) 847-0040
E-mail: aelliott@niea.org

Adrianne drives NIEA’s federal and state advocacy to advance excellence in Native education through daily engagement, policy analysis, and research. She works to elevate provisions that uphold the federal trust responsibility to support Native students, educators, and communities. Adrianne’s role focuses on developing and implementing effective federal legislation, appropriations, regulations, and programs. During her time at Yale University, Adrianne served in leadership positions at the Native American Cultural Center and Association of Native Americans at Yale. Before joining NIEA, Adrianne worked at a law firm and served in the Office of the Chief of Staff and Office of Communications at the White House.

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Kristen Hairston
Legislative Fellow

Direct Number: 202-847-0036
E-mail: Khairston@niea.org

Kristen recently finished her master’s degree (MSc) in Education, Public Policy and Equity at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Her dissertation focused on external forces contributing to the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps for marginalized groups in the U.S. K-12 education system. She also worked with the nonprofit, Citywise, where she mentored students in Glasgow. Prior to that, she graduated from Carthage College in Wisconsin with majors in Political Science and Public Relations. Her Senior Thesis was on K-12 education policies that affected indigenous peoples in the United States and Australia. In the summer of 2016, she studied and worked at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she developed an interest in the education system of the Native Hawaiians. During her time at Carthage College, she played on the women’s lacrosse team and was a team representative for the NCAA Student Athletic Advisory Committee.


Otto Hamilton
Osage Nation
Field Operations Associate

Direct Number: (202) 847-0039
E-mail: ohamilton@niea.org

Otto served 4 years as an Osage Nation elected official serving as a congressman to the Osage Nation Legislative branch. During his tenure as an Osage congressmen he served as chair of committees on Education, Culture and Congressional Affairs. He served 2 years as the congressional 2nd speaker. He also has worked for the Osage Nation Office of Strategic Planning and Grants Management as a Grants Management Specialist. As Field Operations Associate, Otto plans to work with Native communities, stakeholders in regards to Native educational systems, immersion schools and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation. Otto enjoys being a Southern Traditional Straight dancer, a University of Oklahoma alumnus, and spending time with his lovely wife, 6 kids, and 3 grandkids.


Geneva Horsechief-Hamilton
Communications & Event Coordinator

Direct Number: (202) 847-0037
E-mail: geneva@niea.org

Geneva has been working in Communications for nearly twenty years to advance the voice and stories of the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. At NIEA, she is working hard to promote excellence in education for Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian youth everywhere. She began her career in radio as a writer, researcher and talent for Native America Calling in Albuquerque, NM. Geneva has been an Education and Feature Story staff writer for the Tulsa World, Native Times, and the Muskogee Daily Phoenix and a contributing writer for several publications including Indian Country Today. Geneva is also a Neuharth Freedom Forum (Newseum) Fellow and is a graduate of the American Indian Journalism Institute. Most recently, Geneva managed the communications department at the Osage Nation and helped to build and advance their broadcast, social media, and internal communications. Her greatest honor is her family and her heritage. She is a mother, a grandmother, and a wife to her wonderful husband.


Melanie Johnson
Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma
Program Director

Direct Number:(202) 878-6284
E-mail: mjohnson@niea.org

Melanie joined NIEA in September of 2019, bringing her organizational skills, passion for working in Indian Country, and love for creating a seamless process. Before joining NIEA, Melanie served as Project Manager for the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board, a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Melanie has been an active participant and strong advocate working to reduce the effects of underage drinking, non-medical use of prescription drugs, and suicide in American Indian communities over the past 5 years. Presently Melanie serves as a mentor for AI/AN Behavioral Health Professionals and belongs to Matriarch, a community organization that promotes the social welfare of native women.

Melanie holds a M.Ed. from the University of Oklahoma and is a substance abuse Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS). Melanie will oversee the coordination and administration of all NIEA program planning and development to ensure successful completion of NIEA goals and outcomes. Melanie will strive to elevate day-to-day operations, support our quality personnel, and maintain the growth and financial health of the NIEA.


Jacob Tsotigh, Jr.
Tribal Education Specialist

Direct Number: (202) 847-0041
E-mail: jtsotigh@niea.org

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
Development Director

Direct Number: (202) 847-0038
E-mail: jurquhart@niea.org

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.