STAFF & PROGRAM DIRECTORS

Warren Montoya

Warren Montoya

Founder

Tamaya / Kha’po Owingeh

Born and raised in New Mexico, Warren is of the communities of Tamaya (Santa Ana Pueblo)and Kha’po Owinge (Santa Clara Pueblo) in New Mexico. He is the founder and former Executive Director of the REZILIENCE Organization, as well as an entrepreneur, multidisciplinary artist, father and husband. As a muralist, Warren partners with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence to produce collaborative projects with youth in communities across New Mexico. As a contemporary visual artist and jewelry maker his works express vibrant color, material, subjects and form to challenge stereotypical aspects of “Native” arts and Indigenous identity.

He loves dancing, laughing, making friends and exploring ways to support the growth of Indigenous peoples. He acknowledges the power of his communities as the foundation for his strength and ability, and aims to support the continuation of these values, systems and ways of life.

Debra Yepa-Pappan

Debra Yepa-Pappan

PLACE Session Coordinator

Jemez Pueblo

Debra Yepa-Pappan (Jemez and Korean) is a mother, wife, daughter, visual artist, and Chicagoan. Her multimedia practice, which combines digital collage and photography, centers on themes about her mixed-race identity as she incorporates symbolic imagery influenced by both her cultures and the urban environment where she was raised. Debra is currently the Native Community Engagement Coordinator for the Native American Exhibition at the Field Museum and is a governor appointed Board member of Illinois Humanities. Both through her artwork and her work at the museum, she is committed to changing inaccurate representations of Native people, and advocates for the inclusion of Native first voice and perspectives. Along with a small collective of Chicago-based Native artists, Debra has recently helped to co-found the new Native arts organization Center for Native Futures which aspires to be the epicenter of Native arts in the Midwest. Debra currently lives in her hometown Chicago with her husband, artist Chris Pappan and their daughter Ji Hae. 

Lee Francis

Lee Francis

Place Program Moderator

Pueblo of Laguna, NM

Dr. Lee Francis 4 (Pueblo of Laguna) is the Head Indigenerd and CEO of Native Realities, the only Native and Indigenous pop culture company in the United States with the hope to change the perceptions of Native and Indigenous people through dynamic and imaginative pop culture representations. He has been published in multiple publications ranging from poetry to short stories. His first comic book is Sixkiller which debuted June 2018 and Ghost River, which was published in 2019, have both been lauded throughout the US and abroad.  He is a strong advocate for Native youth, with a focus on community literacy and entrepreneurship. He lives in Albuquerque with his family.

Joseph Stacey

Joseph Stacey

Graphic Facilitator

Joseph Stacey is from the Hopi and Laguna tribal nations.  He is an artist, muralist, and an organizer at SouthWest Organizing Project. He also freelances as a visual translator.  After learning the skillset 6 years ago, he has continued to polish those skills at various workshops and conferences around the country. With the help of the Asian and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence, he has been able to solidify his work and contribute to many organizations and indigenous communities thru his interpretations.

Kelly Noble

Kelly Noble

Guest Presenter

 Zuni Pueblo

Kelly K. Noble is an enrolled member of the Zuni Pueblo. From the age of 12 to 17, she attended school in Utah where she completed her high school education. She is a graduate of George Wythe University, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Statesmanship.

Kelly has served as the Cabinet Secretary of the State of New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, and her extensive work history includes Rocky Mountain Power in Utah, the New Mexico Bureau of Health Emergency Management and currently for the Pueblo of Zuni. She has served on several boards and commissions in the public and private sectors. Kelly is also a regular presenter for Sundance Educational Consulting.

She loves spending time with her family, reading, and traveling. Her passion is teaching others to attract the best kind of life that they can possibly imagine. She is blessed with 4 children and 4 beautiful grandchildren. Kelly resides in her hometown of Zuni, NM.

Roxanne Swentzell

Roxanne Swentzell

Guest Presenter

 

Roxanne Swentzell was destined to be a talented artist. Her family is full of renowned potters and sculptors. Her talent was recognized early and she was given the opportunity to spend two years at the Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe before graduating from high school. She then went on to the Portland Museum Art School.
Her first piece of art was a clay dog at the age of four. After formal training and the development of her own style, Swentzell began to create full-length clay figures that represent the complete spectrum of the human spirit. She feels that many people are out of touch with their environment and hopes relating to her expressive characters will help them get back in touch with their surroundings and feelings. Her figures represent a full range of emotions and irrepressible moods. Swentzell focuses a lot on interpretative female portraits attempting to bring back the balance of power between the male and female, inherently recognized in her own culture. Additionally, she increasingly uses a powerful sense of humor to communicate.
Her work is in such high demand that people line up by the dozens at her booth at shows like Santa Fe Indian Market where she won Best of Sculpture in 1999 with a larger-than-life bronze. Though steeped in her own culture, Swentzell’s work demonstrates an astounding universality, speaking to people of all cultures.

Zowie Banteah-Yuselew

Zowie Banteah-Yuselew

Guest Presenter

Zuni Pueblo

Zowie Banteah-Yuselew born and raised in the Zuni Pueblo belongs to the Frog clan and a child of the Sun clan. An educator for 18 years, Zowie is passionate about her youth in her Indigenous community of Zuni, New Mexico. Zowie has been a community advocate primarily in positive youth development as she believes all children have gifts and talents they have yet to uncover. She has taught grades 1-4, and 7th & 8th grades. Currently, Zowie teaches 4th grade at Shiwi Ts’ana Elementary in Zuni. She has always felt it was important to give back especially in her community. Zowie lives in Zuni, NM with her husband Aaron and two teenagers Kioko and Aidan. When COVID-19 hit, she partnered with another mom and jumped into action to start a successful community pantry. This endeavor brought her and a small group of like minded individuals to serve their community as volunteers to this day. Their Emergency Mobile Pantry is now a permanent entity within the Pueblo of Zuni.

Governor Brian Vallo

Governor Brian Vallo

Guest Presenter

Acoma Pueblo

Governor Brian Vallo has over 30 years’ experience working in areas of cultural resources management, repatriation, historic architecture preservation, museum development, the arts, and tourism. Prior to his appointment as Governor in 2018, Governor Vallo served as Director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe where he led the publication of the Guidelines for Collaboration, a resource for Museums and tribal communities. Governor Vallo attended New Mexico State University where he studied Marketing, and the University of New Mexico as a student of Anthropology. A self-taught painter and potter, Governor Vallo is inspired by the cultural landscape of Acoma which he incorporates into multimedia paintings.

BOARD MEMBERS

With the guidance of our Board of Directors, we work to serve the best interest of Inidgenous communities near and far.

Miranda Belarde Lewis

Board Memeber

Zuni/NM

Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit) is an assistant professor of North American Indigenous Knowledge at the University of Washington’s Information School, and an independent curator. Indigenous knowledge systems are central to her work as she examines the role of social media and the arts in protecting, documenting and perpetuating Native information and knowledge. Her work highlights and celebrate Native artists, their processes, and the exquisite pieces they create. She has worked with tribal, city, state and federal museums to create Native-focused educational programming, publications and art exhibitions.

** Photo credit: Thosh Collins

Jacob Meders

Board Member

Mechoopda Maidu/AZ

Jacob Meders (Mechoopda/Maidu), MFA, is an Assistant Professor in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts & Science at Arizona State University. Jacob possesses a BFA in painting with a minor in printmaking from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA in printmaking at Arizona State University. In 2011 Jacob established WarBird Press, a fine art printmaking studio that he operates as the Master Printmaker in Phoenix, AZ.

Jacob has exhibited his work in Divided Lines at The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, NM, Agents of Change: An Exhibition of Artist’ Books with a Social Conscience in Gallery 31 at the Corcoran, Washington DC, Something Old, Something New: Nothing Borrowed Recent Acquisitions from the Heard Museum Collection at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, Illustrious at The Heard North Scottsdale Museum in Scottsdale, AZ, Transcending Traditions at Mesa Contemporary Arts in Mesa, AZ and Mni Wiconi Goldsmith, University of London. His work is also collected by major universities and other institutions in the United States and internationally.

Jacob’s work focuses on altered perceptions of place, culture, and identity built on the assimilation and homogenization of indigenous people. This work often ties into current issues faced in Indigenous communities. His work touches many interdisciplinary approaches and repeatedly plays with the boundaries of social engagement practices. His work continues to reexamine varied documentations of Native Americans through printing processes that hold onto stereotypical ideas and how they have affected the culture of the native people. Often using book forms and prints as a symbol of western knowledge and the linear mind, Jacob deploys them as a vehicle to challenge new perceptions of Native Americans.

And finally, Jacob is recognized as an influential public speaker and has traveled nationally and internationally to speak on topics within the indigenous contemporary art world.

Adrian Lerma

Board Member

Navajo/AZ

Adrian Lerma (Diné) is the Development and Alumni Officer at Diné College. She has a background in program development and management, and brings over eight years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She is a co-founder of the Navajo Women’s Energy Project (Est. 2012) and the Native American Business Incubator Network (Est. 2014). In 2017, she launched a native-owned/woman-owned business on the Navajo Nation, and has been the executive director of Yahuaca Knowledge Distribution LLC – a company focused on knowledge dissemination and indigenous empowerment. Through these roles, she has acquired skills in marketing, brand development, fundraising, community outreach and grassroots organizing.

As an Indigenous woman born and raised on the Navajo Nation, she has observed how native communities often lack the power to set their own agendas in regard to issues that directly impact them. Through her efforts and through collaborations with motivated ‘change makers’, she has built on the work to bring our indigenous voices to the forefront of policy making and economic development. By providing support, knowledge and language to articulate and combat currently existing barriers, she aims to reset the agenda so that the improbable is achievable and the disempowered are empowered.

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