TRUSTEE AND ADVISOR BIOS
NOELANI M. ARISTA: Arista is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. Her research and teaching specialties include Hawai‘i, Native Hawaiian language and documentation, 19th Century America, and the Pacific World. Her Brandeis University doctoral dissertation was awarded the 50th annual Allan Nevins Prize in 2010 for her interdisciplinary thesis, "Histories of Unequal Measure: Euro-American Encounters with Hawaiian Governance and Law, 1793-1827" by The Society of American Historians. She writes, “My dissertation emphasizes the heterogeneity of value systems belonging to different groups in my history [and] incorporates different approaches, methods, and ways of reading sources that operate within different Hawaiian historical paradigms. The challenge in writing this history is communicating a robust Hawaiian language and sign base to tell Hawaiian history, and making room for Hawaiian disciplinary paradigms of historical thinking and praxis alongside a received Euro-American narrative.”
JESSIE 'little doe' BAIRD: Baird is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and a member of the Wampanoag Women’s Medicine Society. She is the mother of five children aged 9 to 31 years old and she lives in Mashpee and Aquinnah, MA with her husband Jason Baird of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, and their youngest child. jessie is the Co-founder of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project which began in 1993-94. This is an intertribal effort between the Mashpee, Herring Pond, Aquinnah, and Assonet Wampanoag communities. The aim of the project is to reclaim Wôpanâôt8âôk as a spoken language. There were no speakers of the language for six generations. She also teaches Wôpanâôt8âôk. little doe received her Master of Science in Linguistics from MIT in 2000. She has written an introduction to the grammar of the language and is currently expanding this sketch toward a complete grammar. jessie created the first curriculum for teaching the language and is currently working with Professor Norvin Richards toward the completion of a dictionary that holds over 11,000 words. jessie is the current Director for ‘Pâhshaneekamuq’, a public charter immersion school planning project with a staff of nine funded by the Administration for Native Americans. She is a former National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages Fellow, a member of the American Antiquarian Society and a 2010 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award Fellow. little doe served one term on the Mashpee Housing Authority as a commissioner and on the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council Board of Directors. Until announcing her candidacy for Vice Chairperson of the Mashpee Wamapanoag Tribe, she served on the Enrollment Committee for the tribe. jessie has also served in an advisory capacity for past and current Wampanoag cultural projects for various organizations and film productions. She lectures for colleges and universities and advises tribal communities and governments in the areas of language project policy and curriculum development. Other passions are Wampanoag history and cooking, fishing, and traditional regalia craft and dance.
Websites: wlrp.org, mashpeewampanoagtribe.com
LINDA COOMBS: Coombs directs the Aquinnah Cultural Center, and is a member of the Aquinnah Wampanog tribe from Martha's Vineyard, where she was born and raised. After earning a degree in 1971 in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, she became an intern at the Boston Children's Museum, now serving on their Native American Advisory Board. Linda worked for more than 30 years at Plimoth Plantation, starting in 1975, training interns in the Native American Studies Program which she transformed into the Wampanoag Indigenous Program and homesite. There she designed countless exhibits, events, and presentations, and learned the history, technology, and arts of her 17th century ancestors. She is an accomplished bead work artist, and also specializes in making traditional deerskin outfits, twined weaving, and woven bulrush and cattail mats. Linda served as Associate Director of the Wampanoag Indigenous Program for many years prior to directing the Aquinnah Cultural Center, and has lectured widely at schools, museums, colleges, and universities throughout England on traditional Wampanoag culture. She lives with her family in Mashpee, MA, and "loves gardens and working in and with the Earth, the smell of the salt air, the smell of the fresh water, and the feel of the wind and sun."
MARK FOREST: Forest is the Executive Director of the Delahunt Group. He provides clients with strategic advice on a range of public policy areas originating in Washington DC. Forest also advises clients on how to work with Congress, Congressional staff, federal agencies and local governments. He also consults on a number of economic development and public works projects, and has a track record of securing federal funding. Forest has over twenty five years of experience working in the United States House of Representatives, with many years working on Capitol Hill. Forest was the former Chief of Staff to Congressman Bill Delahunt and served on his staff from 1997 to 2011. During his tenure with Delahunt he also served as a policy adviser on energy, appropriations, marine and fisheries issues. He also served in Washington DC as Delahunt's legislative director, district director, and communications director. From 1985 to 1997 he was a top aide to Congressman Gerry E. Studds and worked on environmental, fisheries issues and supervised his constituent services staff. Forest is principally known for his work on the clean-up of the Massachusetts Military Reservation, one of the largest and most expensive Superfund projects in the country, the creation of the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, the Cape Cod Land Bank and the establishment of the 15,000 acre Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve, the largest land conservation and protection initiatives on Cape Cod since the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Prior to his service in Congress, he worked in the Town Manager's office in Provincetown, MA. He led the town's efforts to redevelop MacMillan Wharf, the home for local fishing and whale-watching businesses and secured funding for several environmental, community and economic development projects. He is one of the founders of the Community Development Partnership, a community development corporation serving much of Cape Cod. Over his career, he has helped bring over $1 billion in federal funding to communities and organizations throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Forest graduated from the University of Massachusetts - Boston in 1978 and obtained his MPA from Suffolk University in 1981. He was a VISTA volunteer and worked in Boston during the desegregation of the school system. Forest grew up in Natick, Ma, but is a long time resident of South Yarmouth, Ma, where he lives with his wife, Carol.
HEATHER HARDING: Harding is Herring Pond Wampanaog and is the new Executive Director for EdCORE at The George Washington University. She recently served as Senior Vice President of Community Partnerships at Teach for America’s national headquarters in Washington, DC. Harding's professional career has spanned classroom teaching, professional development, and empirical research. At Teach For America, Heather oversaw the organization’s partnership work in the areas of policy, research, community engagement, and special initiatives in early childhood education and STEM. Having begun her career as a Teach For America corps member in rural North Carolina, she served as executive director of the eastern North Carolina region in the mid-nineties. Heather has held numerous practitioner roles in organizations including the Boston Plan for Excellence, Citizen Schools, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and KIPP. She earned her master's and doctoral degrees in education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her dissertation documented the work of four successful White urban middle school teachers. Heather previously led the Research partnerships team at TFA where she increased the volume of independent research on the program’s impact, built new alliances with the teacher education community, and developed systems for communicating impact and equipping staff with accurate research information. A trained journalist, Heather attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and retains her love of investigative research and artful writing. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children. As a graduate of Northwestern University, Heather was a 1992 corps member in Eastern North Carolina, where she taught eighth grade language arts and high school history. She first joined staff in 1994 as executive director of the Eastern North Carolina region, managing the region’s relationships with eight school districts and raising nearly $200,000. In early 1997, she became a site director at Citizen Schools, the Boston-based after-school program, and later joined the Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools Foundation as the professional development liaison. Heather then held the position of school support coordinator in which she facilitated support networks at the school level for principals, consultants, teachers, and instructional leadership teams. Heather received her master’s in 2000, and that same year served as an associate at the Turning Points Middle School Reform Initiative, consulting with middle school staff members on implementing the Turning Points model for school restructuring. She returned to Teach For America as a school director at the 2001 Houston institute. In 2003, Heather became campus leadership manager for Citizen Schools, supervising four Boston-based campus directors. In 2006, Heather earned her Ed.D while simultaneously holding several pivotal roles in Harvard’s teacher-education program. Her dissertation highlights successful white teachers of black middle school students. After consulting for the KIPP Foundation, Heather joined the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University as a consultant and then as a principal associate, providing intellectual leadership in the area of cultural relevance and proficiency for the institute’s school district support efforts.
LESLIE JONAS: Jonas, a Senior Development Specialist contractor for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Development Department, is currently in her 4th term at Souhern New Hampshire University (SNHU) working on her master's degree in community economic development. She brings incredible energy, enthusiasm, dedication and experience to each and every one of her jobs and projects. For the past 4 years on a full-time basis, and over 6 years on a freelance basis, Leslie has been providing professional development assessment, strategy, education and grants writing services to tribal department directors to increase revenues to and for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. By leveraging her previous mainstream regional, national and international professional strategy, marketing, communications, and production successes with the unique relationships, networks, insights and experience that she brings as a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member and as an experienced tribal development professional, she’s able to draw upon the best practices of many different challenging working environments. Drawing on her award-winning history of leading, directing and providing successful project management for teams committed to producing results on time and on budget, she has guided small projects (under $1M) and larger initiatives (over $6M in annual budget, 100+ people) to deliver high quality business and communications solutions and deliverables for Fortune 1000 companies. For over 30 years, Leslie has executive produced, directed, managed and staged many large events and programs in over 12 countries. These have included sales meetings, pharmaceutical training events, high-tech digital user conferences, e-learning, tradeshows, powwows, video production, interactive media, webcasts, and advanced product launches. Most importantly, she favors her own backyard here on Cape Cod as the former Mashpee Wampanoag tribal powwow director (2009-2011). Her commitment to the Tribe is seen in her years of volunteerism as the Tribe’s Enrollment Committee Secretary. Her commitment to preserving Wampanoag tradition and culture is seen in her years of study as a language student.
JOAN LESTER: Lester is Professor of American Studies at Tufts University. For more than 26 years she has taught Native American Studies courses, and worked collaboratively with Native Nations in New England on curriculum development, museum exhibits, and political representation. Lester’s Native American education began not in Western-focused graduate courses, but here in New England when she met and had the privilege to be re-educated by Native mentors willing to take a naïve graduate student under their wing and introduce a more holistic way of seeing the Native world. Lester been learning and working in this field ever since, first as the Native American Curator at Boston Children’s Museum, and then as professor at Tufts in the American Studies Department. At the Children’s Museum, understanding that Native voice was primary and essential to everything that was done, Joan created the very first museum Native American Advisory Board in the country, followed by an internship for Native Americans, followed by the hiring of Native staff and the joint creation of exhibits (such as We‘re Still Here, Native Americans in New England, and Columbus Through Native Eyes) , school programs, teacher workshops , and school curriculums (such as Indians Who Met the Pilgrims and Many Thanksgiving)—all focused on and honoring Native perspectives. Now, as a professor at Tufts, Joan concentrates on introducing older students to real Native history and Native American concerns, past and present, asking students to rethink what they have learned from a Euro-American perspective and develop a new Native lens. She teaches Native American Issues, Past and Present; Museums and Native Americans, the Politics of Representation and Native American Art: Beauty and Meaning. Individual students also work with her on independent topics related to the same issues. Joan has an MA and a PhD in Native American art. Her personal research focuses on the work of Native Artists, past and present in New England. She has published articles and catalogues on this subject (such as We’re Still Here; Tomah Joseph, Passamaquoddy Artist; and Working Together to Get It Right), and is currently working with two Native artists and a Native curator to identify and honor the work of late 19th century Penobscot and Passamaquoddy century artists who did not sign their names before their work left the community. The research team believes that, as ancestors, these artists should be recognised and honored. As Joan says, "In this work, as in everything I’ve done, I understand that Native voice always takes priority over my own. It has been an incredible journey and a privilege to work with Native people."
JUDITH SANFORD-HARRIS, PHD: Sanford-Harris is a longtime educator who has specialized in community outreach, student advising, and higher education. She has served as director of educational outreach at Harvard Medical School’s Office for Diversity and Community Partnership, as associate academic dean, dean of students, and vice president of student affairs at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, MA, and has held administrative and counseling positions at other area colleges including Boston University, Pine Manor College, and Curry College. She has contributed chapters to books on school-college partnerships and academic advising, and was twice elected to the board of directors of the National Academic Advising Association. She presently serves on the Brown University Alumni Association Board of Governors and the Commonwealth School Board of Trustees. She was appointed to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Elders’ Council in 2009, served briefly on the MWT Education Committee, and has taken language classes through WLRP since 2005. She holds state certification as a guidance counselor and presently serves as a student development counselor at a Boston middle school. Judith earned an A.B. in Psychology from Brown University, and a master’s in counseling psychology and Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College.
DAWN BLAKE SOUZA, EDM: Blake Souza, an Assonet Wampanoag, was one of the founding members of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Native American Students Organization in 1976 and an active member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s American Indian Program in 1983-84. At UMass, Amherst, she majored in Multicultural Education with a focus on Native Studies, African American and Asian American Studies. Her Masters in Education at Harvard was in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy. She is a veteran educator where most of her teaching experience was serving a wide range of student populations, including those from inner-city, Latino, Native-American, and African-American neighborhoods, largely in the Southwest, (Arizona and Texas), as well as small, rural farming communities, focusing on teaching students for whom English was a second language. She has worked as Director of Indian Education and Migrant Education Programs in the Mashpee community. In addition to being a veteran classroom teacher, elementary through secondary, she has been both an elementary school principal and a high-school assistant principal. She has extensive experience providing teacher training in Cultural Awareness and Combatting Stereotypes in the Classroom. As a published author, poet, and lecturer on Wampanoag culture and diversity issues, Dawn occupies much of her retirement time writing, speaking and volunteering with various educational projects throughout the community. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and literate in French, Dawn is co-owner of SouthCoast Translating Services.
JOAN TAVARES-AVANT: Tavares-Avant’s work has embraced more than three decades of journalistic, academic, contemporary and historical focus on mainly the Mashpee Wampanoag. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services, University of Massachusetts Boston (1993), a Masters in Education at Cambridge College (1995), and is an ABD, doctoral degree candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The University of Massachusetts Amherst (Native Program), local NAACP, the US Dept of Health & Human Services, Cape Cod Community College, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Massachusetts Reading Association, and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (it is on the 7th of March 1997 - we recognize your devotion to your people and hold you up in the light to the next generation…) are only a few of the many entities who have formally acknowledged her teachings and cultural work with awards. She has served three terms as past tribal president and historian, and worked as Director of Indian Education for 26 years in the Mashpee Public Schools, developing Wampanoag curriculum, teaching and promoting history and cultural awareness to Native parents, students and non-Natives. She has worked with Wampanoag families for over 30 years regarding social issues and has served in the court as a Professional Tribal Elder for family in crises (IQUA). She writes a monthly column in the Mashpee Enterprise, titled “Tales from Granny Squannit.” Granny has self - published two books, “Wampanoag Cooking” (1993) and “People of the First Light: Wisdoms of a Mashpee Wampanoag Elder” (2010). Presently she serves as a Commissioner for the Tribal Housing Department, and as a member of the Town of Mashpee Historical Commission. She is also actively involved in the tribal newsletter (Nashauonk Mittark). Joan writes, “I am honored to serve as a founding trustee for the WLRP project to open a K-3 immersion charter school in the fall of 2015. It has been my forever passion to not only preserve the culture but to assist making wise pedagogic decisions for our children and families in their own public recognized tribal school.”
JUDI URQUHART: Urquhart is the Business Manager for the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, and has served as the project’s highly successful volunteer grants writer for the past several years. In addition, she is the Managing Director of Wakeby Fire & Associates, a direct marketing fundraising and membership development agency. Judi brings over 20 years of experience in direct marketing and fundraising to her role at Wakeby Fire & Associates. Her career tenure with roles in direct marketing, database management, grant writing and administration includes experience in both commercial and nonprofit organizations such as American Express, Outward Bound and World Society for the Protection of Animals as well as in direct marketing agencies such as A.B. Data, Epsilon and Newport Creative Communications. She has been instrumental in building, sustaining and growing the direct marketing programs for many notable organizations over her career including over twenty-five animal welfare organizations, the National Geographic Society, The Gorilla Foundation, The New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. Judi holds a B.A in Asian Studies from Mount Holyoke College and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University In 2014, she won the Lewis Gurwitz Spirit Award for her devotion and friendship to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
Websites: wlrp.org, wakebyfire.com
JENNIFER WESTON: Weston brings 19 years of experience working with tribal community programs focused on addictions research, cultural resiliency, education, and environmental justice to her current role as Charter Developer for the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. She also directs the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Language Department and co-teaches a civic engagement course on Indigenous language revitalization at UMass-Boston. From 2008 to 2012 she managed the Endangered Languages Program for the nonprofit Cultural Survival, Inc., in Cambridge, MA, where she built a network of 350+ tribal language programs, and helped to raise nearly $2 million for 6 grassroots tribal language programs. Weston also served as researcher and assistant producer for the award-winning 2011 documentary WE STILL LIVE HERE: Âs Nutayuneân, about the reawakening of the Wampanoag language after many generations without fluent speakers. In addition to writing and co-producing the Âs Nutayuneân companion website, OurMotherTongues.org, she has written for the Cultural Survival Quarterly journal and website culturalsurvival.org. Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas, she has served her tribal government as an environmental outreach coordinator, grant writer, and executive assistant to the chairman. As both a student and staffer at Brown University, she developed Native studies curricula and community programs to support Native student retention, including the annual powwow. Weston trained as a journalist with Pulitzer Prize winning reporters in Providence, RI, with the founding editors of Indian Country Today, and through a Native American Public Telecommunications-PBS apprenticeship. Prior to joining Cultural Survival, Weston was a correspondent for the Lakota Nation Journal, an associate/web producer for the PBS series, "We Shall Remain," and a researcher for Makepeace Productions. From the Edwards, Shoots the Enemy, Taken Alive, Grindstone, Kills Crow and other tiospayes (extended families) on Standing Rock, Jennifer carries a great grandmother's name, Pté San Wašté Win (White Buffalo Woman) given to her by her grandfather Joseph Flying By. Websites: wlrp.org, ourmothertongues.org
RENÉE LOPES-POCKNETT: Lopes-Pocknett is Assonet Wampanoag and serves as Director of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Education Department.
JEFFREY MADISON: Madison is Aquinnah Wampanoag and Chairman of the board of directors of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. He is an attorney at Wynn & Wynn, P.C., and earned his Juris Doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Law.
WENONAH MADISON-SAUER: Madison-Sauer is Aquinnah Wampanoag from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head. She owns 7a Foods in West Tisbury, MA, which specializes in organic and locally sourced gourmet and specialty foods. An Art History and Studio Arts graduate of Dartmouth College, Madison also studied Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She has previously worked as an associate designer with the Moret Group and Age Group in New York, and serves as tax collector for the town of Aquinnah, MA. Madison is also a long-time member of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project committee.
DANA MOHLER-FARIA, PHD: Mohler-Faria has served as President of Bridgewater State University since 2002. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, master's and bachelor's degrees in history from Boston University, and an associate's degree from Cape Cod Community College. He has participated in the Oxford Roundtable, the Millennium Leadership Institute, the New England Resource Center for Higher Education and Harvard University's Institute for Education Management and Senior Executives Program. Prior to becoming president, Mohler-Faria served for 11 years as Bridgewater State College's vice president for administration and finance. He is a lifelong resident of Southeastern Massachusetts, and was the first member of his family to go to college. Three decades and four degrees later, he continues to cite the work ethic and moral fabric of his late father, a construction worker, and his late mother, a laborer in the cranberry bogs of Wareham and in the factories of New Bedford, as setting the daily high standards to which he holds himself. President Mohler-Faria is the first person of color to lead Bridgewater State University and, at the time of his inauguration, was only the second Cape Verdean in the United States to be elected the president of a higher education institution.
MORGAN PETERS: Peters (a.k.a., Mwalim) joined the UMass Dartmouth faculty in 2003 after a lengthy career in the theater, film, television and as a performing artist, writer, filmmaker and master teacher of genres spanning theater, spoken-word, music, journalism, film, television, and video, as well as the academic disciplines of musicology and folklore/ oral traditions. Known internationally as “Mwalim” or “Mwalim DaPhunkeeProfessor” he is considered a ‘sub-cultural icon’ according to Wikipedia. As a playwright his work has been seen on and off Broadway as well as throughout the USA and Canada at regional theater as well as festivals. His works, in particular, “OM! A Street Corner Griot’s Comedy,” “Look At My Shorts,” “A Party At The Crossroads” and “Working Things Out” have won such prestigious awards as the Ira Aldridge Fellowship, the New York Theatre Forum “Outstanding New Playwright” and the MLK Society Distinguished Fellowship. He has been the playwright-in-residence since 2004 at New African Company, New England’s oldest continuous professional Black theater company. A gifted spoken-word artist, lyricist and soul-funk-jazz singer and musical artist, Mwalim has been a frequently invited presenter and performer at such internationally recognized venues as the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe and Afrikan Poetry Theatre in New York City, October Gallery and Ten Spot in Philadelphia and the Apache Cafe in Atlanta, GA. His poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Mwalim began his career as a teenager, as a recording studio intern at Planet Studios in New York City, eventually lending his talents as a keyboardist, producer and lyricist to various projects. As a staff producer and recording artist with Liberation Music–MGM, his work as a lyricist and performer have earned international critical praise from jazz, House/Dance Music, and soul music reviewers, as well as “Best Male Jazz Artist” in the 2010 New England Urban Music Awards, and top nominations in the 2010 and 2011 Native American Music Awards. As a filmmaker and videographer, Mwalim is primarily known in the museum and gallery circuit for his experimental video projects and music videos. As a fellow in the Longwood Cyber Arts program, Mwalim developed a sound-scape project combining video images with original electronic music. He has also worked as a digital audio and video producer and editor for such companies as RMG/Universal, Urban Box Office, and freelancedfor Viacom, NBC, Westwood One, and Comcast. Mwalim was named “2011 Educator of the Year” by the Cape Cod NAACP, is a founding member of the Education Department for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and is actively engaged in youth and arts mentoring programs and projects throughout eastern Massachusetts. Websites: mwalim.com, umassd.edu/cas/english/faculty/morganpeters/
DEANNA SANTOS-STEVENSON: Santos-Stevenson, Mashpee Wampanoag, has a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling from California State University, Sacramento, and a B.A. in Psychology from University of California, Davis. She is currently a High School Counselor at Visions In Education Charter School, through the San Juan Unified School District in Carmichael, CA. Deanna was also a High School Counselor at Options For Youth Charter School. She has 12+ years of High School Counseling experience. Prior to the educational field, Deanna was a Program Director at Leaders in Community Alternatives, Inc. (San Francisco, CA). This private company contracted with various County Sheriff’s Departments, Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation programs, monitoring individuals on Home Detention, which included drug and alcohol testing. She initially was Program Director of the adult program and later became Director for the Day Reporting Center, a juvenile probation program. This program included social skills training, drug prevention curriculum, tutoring, counseling groups, meals, field trips, community service, etc. Deanna was also a Counselor at Sacramento Job Corps, which is a federally-funded educational and vocational training program for youth 16-22 years of age.
JUDITH SHAPIRO, ESQ: