Society of American Indian Government Employees

Honoring Our Ancestors Through Government Service
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Jay Spaan – Vice Chair

Jay Spaan is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Currently he serves as the Executive Director of the Self-Governance Communication & Education (SGCE) Tribal Consortium.
He has had more than a decade of experience in program evaluation, primarily as a Senior Analyst in the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Natural Resource and Environment team. While at the GAO, Jay led work and developed reports focused on federal management of programs that serve tribal nations and their citizens, including federal management of trust resources, implementation of self-determination mechanisms, and federal efforts to effectively collaborate in administering programs to tribes. Several of his reports resulted in Congressional oversight hearings before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the House Appropriations Committee, and others.

Jay actively sought opportunities to increase AI/AN representation within GAO and brought in numerous speakers to educate GAO employees on federal trust responsibility, tribal sovereignty, and building effective working relationships with tribal nations. In 2014, 2017 and 2018 he received GAO Awards for sustained service to numerous committees and congressional clients.

Jay has served two terms on the SAIGE board of directors and served as co-chair of the 2016 National Training Program. He more recently completed a term as Vice-Chair of SAIGE, and then finished a one-year board assignment.

Jay routinely presents on various topics at conferences across the country, including the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019 SAIGE National Training Programs. He is a Lifetime member of SAIGE. Jay earned a Master’s of Jurisprudence in Indian Law from the University of Tulsa and a Master’s of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Sue Morris – Treasurer 

Sue Morris recently retired from Federal Service after 33 years. She served two years with the U.S. Army in the Provost Marshal’s Office at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and 31 years at the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District.

Sue is a full-blood enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, and a direct descendant of one of the original Comanche Code Talkers. Sue is very involved in tribal activities and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Comanche Nation College, the first tribal college in Oklahoma. Sue is also the treasurer for the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women, an organization dedicated to mentoring Native girls through various activities to enhance awareness of their tribal culture and the importance of education.

Sue is a Lifetime member of SAIGE, and has had the honor of Co-Chairing the 2011 National Training Program. Most recently she served as Co-Chair for the 2016 National Training Program in Tulsa,  OK. This is her third term on the Board of Directors. Sue is also a member of the Comanche Native Veterans Association (CIVA) Auxiliary and the Walters Service Club, the sponsoring organization for the Comanche Homecoming. Sue is married to Tom and they are the parents of two sons, Benjamin and Aaron. Sue and Tom reside in Skiatook, Oklahoma.

Board of Directors Candidates:
Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali 

Sadé Ali is the retired Deputy Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. She is now the President of First Nations, LLC, a behavioral health training and consulting organization in Delaware. For the past four years, she was a Senior Associate with Altarum in Washington, DC, providing training and technical assistance to Tribal Governments and other providers engaged in SAMHSA’s Access to Recovery (ATR) initiative. Ms. Ali holds faculty positions at Brown University, Temple University’s College of Health Professions and Drexel University’s School of Public Health. Ms. Ali has traveled the US and Canada extensively providing culturally appropriate recovery management and resilience-promoting training in both the mental health and addictions fields.

She has published her thesis, other scholarly articles, and a textbook on culturally appropriate recovery/resilience services, the ending of health disparities through enhanced access to care, and the impact of inter-generational trauma on the Indigenous peoples of North America. She is one of the co-authors of the Philadelphia Behavioral Health Transformation Practice Guidelines for Recovery and Resilience Oriented Treatment, a framework for the fields of mental health and addictions treatment services that is used worldwide. She recently published Social Healing Words-Using Language to Promote Recovery and Resilience for Individuals, Families and Communities. Ms. Ali has been in recovery and the field of behavioral health services for over 47 years.

Ms. Ali holds a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology. She is First Nations Mi’kmaq from the Sturgeon Clan, the Elder and Medicine Keeper of the East Coast Two Spirit Society and a lifetime member of SAIGE (Society of American Indian Government Employees).

Tilford Brown

Tilford C. Brown is Dine (Navajo) from Gallup, New Mexico. He lives and works as a Human Resources Specialist at the Veterans Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He helps veterans with retirement, awards and their benefits. He also serves as the American Indian Special Emphasis Program Manager for the Center.

Tilford is a U.S. Marine veteran, having served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1989 through 1993. He has a BA in Management, Organizational Behavior/Human Resources Management from the University of New Mexico.

Tilford first attended the SAIGE National Training Program in 2010 at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and became a member. He has assisted SAIGE since then as its official singer, opening up many sessions with song and prayer. In 2013 Tilford composed a song especially for SAIGE. Tilford is now a Lifetime member of SAIGE and active member of the SAIGE Warrior Society.

Tilford would like to serve on the board again to help SAIGE continue the admiration, beauty and harmony it has built. SAIGE cares about the preservation of native cultures, languages and traditions that our elders and spiritual leaders speak of, along with investing into our youth and veterans. These are all things that Tilford believes in and wants to be a part of.

Teresa Estoril      

Teresa Estoril is a member of the Eagle Medicine Band, Cherokee Indians and grew up in the Delaware Valley between the two states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She worked for the General Services Administration (GSA), Philadelphia, PA before retiring with 43 years of government service. Teresa had served as Mistress of Ceremony for the Native American Heritage programs sponsored by the GSA Diversity Committee. This has afforded Teresa the opportunity to educate and enlighten fellow associates about Native American peoples and Indian cultures while dispelling myths and untruths. Teresa actively recruited Native American College students and Graduate candidates for employment into Federal Government Service. Teresa is dedicated to educating the non-Indian community about its 1st Citizens and as well as other Federal Agencies the scores of contributions by Native Peoples.

Working within the community, Teresa has informed children in schools throughout eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey about Indian people. Where the community comes together, the Main Library of Philadelphia serves as a diverse meeting place for community people to interact with Native people up close and personal. Teresa has also given Native Presentations to the Superior Court Justices of New Jersey; Various Diversity Groups Organizations within City of Philadelphia. Teresa has met with an audience of Jefferson Hospital Doctor Interns regarding issues of Native & Western medicines.

Teresa has received Certificates of Appreciation from the various community organizations for educating and enlightening them about American Indians and Alaskan Native people. Teresa takes advantage of wherever people gather as an opportunity to teach and educate them about Native Culture. March 2009 welcomed a brand-new Cherokee Language program which is offered by the Eagle Medicine Band – Cherokee, where Teresa serves as one of the Clan Mothers. She along with a family member enroll friends & family and anyone interested in learning to keep our Native language alive by learning to read, write and speak “Tsalagi ” (Cherokee).
In 2007, Teresa joined SAIGE and she has been an active contributor to SAIGE’s Core Mission to Promote, Educate, Assist and Provide education and support. In 2009, Teresa received the “SAIGE Recognition Award” for her dedication, support and promotion of the SAIGE mission. Teresa is presently serving on the Board of Directors and is also a proud Lifetime Member of SAIGE.

Carl Etsitty                   

Carl Etsitty is Tódich’ii’nii and Tó’áhani of the Diné (Navajo) Nation. After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, Carl graduated from the University of Arizona with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences. He worked for 10 years with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a microbiologist / risk assessor, where he assessed risks for new biological pesticide registrations, including genetically engineered organisms for human health and product chemistry reviews. He also helped to establish EPA’s Tribal Science Council, and within that context worked to affirm the validity of Tribal holistic science. In addition, he was an American Indian Special Emphasis program manager.

Carl moved on to USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) as a regional biotechnologist with Biotechnology Regulatory Services, then became Plant Protection and Quarantine’s Tribal Liaison. In his current position as Assistant Director of APHIS’ Office of National Tribal Liaison, he plays a multifaceted role: providing guidance in carrying out Tribal consultation, reviewing Tribal implications of new/modified regulations, reaching out to Tribes, training staff, building cooperative partnerships, and more. He is life SAIGE member, and assisted in the formation of SAIGE from the beginning. He continues to work with his local community on the reservation.

Robin Hairston

My Name is Robin Red Feather Hairston. I presently work for the Dept of Defense at Edwards AFB as a heavy equipment operator. I have worked for the Dept of Defense for twenty years during which time I have received many awards which include Civilian of the Year and numerous letters of appreciation. In 2016 I received the Achievement Award from SAIGE for saving a coworkers life with CPR and stopping an aircraft from taking off that would have crashed upon landing.

I am Chirichua Nde. My ancestry comes from the mountain strong hold of Chihuahua Mexico where the Chirichua fought and hid for many years. I am a retired 20 year Vet who served both in the Marine Corps and Army. I served in Desert Storm and have been sent to two classified missions, I have been awarded thirty Medals.

I presently have a band called Blue Mountain Tribe who are all Native Americans and we are popular all over the world. We were honored to perform at two SAIGE events. Blue Mountain Tribe’s goal is to stop the suicide of our youth on Reservations. The reason I want to serve on the board is because I have been blessed with the gift of love and compassion towards people, especially our Native people of the USA, to Canada and Alaska. I feel the pain and suffering we have endured. I feel I can help SAIGE expand their membership and to give our youth hope and motivation to accomplish any thing they want. You see I have a dream: WE ARE NOT THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE.WE HAVE JUST BEGAN TO FIGHT. FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE PROUD !!!

Roberta Lewis

Roberta J. Lewis grew up in Anadarko, Oklahoma and is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, she is also of Wichita and Pawnee descent. Ms. Lewis has strong ties to her tribal culture and participates in several tribal events throughout the year.

Ms. Lewis has worked at the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the Tulsa District for over 20 years. Ms. Lewis is a member of the American Indian/Alaska Native Special Emphasis Committee of the Tulsa District. She has helped plan and execute Native American Heritage Month activities at the Tulsa District Office a number of years. Through her numerous associations and contacts with the American Indian community, she has arranged for speakers and cultural performers to enhance the Tulsa District’s exceptional program.

Ms. Lewis has organized and prepared Indian Taco lunches to raise funds for the District Office’s contribution to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Ms. Lewis is active in mentoring young American Indians by sharing her food and craft skills. She invests in young native girls by assisting and supporting their basketball and softball teams. She has also taught young ladies to fringe dance shawls and beading for cultural celebrations. In 2016 and 2017 she brought her skills and talents to teach beading and fringing to attendees at the SAIGE National Training Program. Both years the class was at maximum attendance and enjoyed by the participants.

I would like to be considered to serve as a board member for SAIGE. I have been a part of this organization for 5 years and am passionate about the things it stands for. I have been with the federal government for 30 years, and I believe my experience with the Corps and being Native American, I can bring ideas that could help the organization.

Dr. James Pete

My Anishinaabe (Indian) name is Guyaushk (Seagull), am a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, from the Eagle Clan, have two sons, eight grandchildren, and two great granddaughters, with another one due in January 2020. I served on the Red Cliff Tribal Council, in 1982-1984, and from July 2010 to November 2011. In addition to serving as a Council member, I also served as the Vice-Chairperson and Tribal Treasurer.
While I’ve been following the Traditions and Culture of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) all my life, it wasn’t until I started on my journey into sobriety on November 6, 1992, where I was able to fully appreciate and understand the strength of our Traditions.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Master’s degree in Organizational Management, and a Doctorate in Business Administration. I serve(d) as an Adjunct Faculty member for Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, St. Cloud University, DQ-University, and currently with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
My Doctoral Project, entitled “NATIVE AMERICAN/INDIAN TRIBAL ORGANIZATION AND LEADERSHIP: UNDERSTANDING THE PAST, LIVING IN THE PRESENT, DESIGNING THE FUTURE FOR TRIBAL ORGANIZATIONS AND LEADERSHIP,” concentrates on the encouragement of integration of traditional beliefs and philosophies into the Tribal Organization.
Another part of my journey, was working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 5 years and with the Indian Health Service for 6 years. During a time when there was an emphasis to reduce the Federal employees, I was selected for a “Buy-Out,” and utilized the incentive(s) to begin my own Tribal Management Consultant business, Guyaushk and Associates, in October 1995.
The services provided through Guyaushk and Associates related to organizational management issues. I believe in the encouragement at all levels to create an atmosphere of cooperation, collaboration, and once in a while...”COLORING OUTSIDE THE LINES.”
I became aware of SAIGE a few years ago, and have had the pleasure of being one of the Break-Out Session presenters, including the recently held Conference in Niagara Falls, in June 2019. I like to focus on a personal aspect, when working in an organization, like the Federal Government, and encourage the integration of Cultural beliefs, including a personal journey into Spirituality. I’ve learned the concept of starting with the well-being of self, plays a major role in how we function in our personal and professional lives.
I believe my experience in following and a continuous effort in learning the Traditions and Cultural, combined with being an elected Tribal Official, working at the Tribal levels, working at the Federal level, and serving as a Tribal Management Consultant can be an asset, if elected to the SAIGE Board.
Chi Mii-Gwech (A big Thank You) for this consideration.

Robert Russell

Mr. Russell is the Course Director for federally mandated management and supervisor training courses at the Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development, Civilian School for Professional Development, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

He is an enrolled citizen of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama and has lineal ties to the Tonawanda Band of Seneca and Nopeming Band of Ojibwe. Mr. Russell was born in Onondaga County New York. After enlisting in the Army he served in several Airborne units before being selected to participate in a new program that sent enlisted personnel to college to attain their commissioning through ROTC, where he persued a degree in History from the University of Florida. After earning his commission, he served two consecutive overseas tours before returning to Fort Bragg. Following an assignment in recruiting, Mr. Russell returned overseas and served for four consecutive overseas tours. After earning a Master’s of Science in Education, Mr. Russell served two tours in the education field, one within the Army Logistics University system and one at Auburn University at Montgomery, where after 28 years of service and a combined 36 months of combat time, he retired.

After retiring from the Army, Mr. Russell continued to work in education as a contractor for Auburn University at Montgomery, Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School, Air Universities’ eSchool for Professional Development, and the Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development. During this time, he took a two year break from education to serve the State of Alabama and her indigenous people as a political appointee serving as the Executive Director, Alabama Indian Affairs Commission. He has also served his Tribe as the Chief of the Ani Gi Lo Hi for four years. His military awards include Meritorious Service Medal (5th Award), Army Commendation Medal (5th Award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (2nd Award), Overseas Service Ribbon (6th Award), and United Nations Medal. Upon his retirement, Mr. Russell was awarded the Alabama Legislative Medal of Honor.

Most recently, Mr. Russell received a 2019 SAIGE Military Meritorious Service Award. Mr. Russell is a lifetime member of the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) as well as the SAIGE Warrior Society, The National Native American Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans Association, American Veterans Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and National Defense Transportation Association. He has previously served as both a Tribal and State delegate to the National Congress of American Indians and the Governors’ Interstate Indian Council. Mr. Russell and his family also support the efforts of The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) as well as the American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism Association (AIANTA). He is married to the former Susan K. Jordan of Hartford, Connecticut and they have 2 children together: Kaitlin (AISES Sequoyah Fellow and Lifetime Member of SAIGE), and Nicole (Miss Indian Alabama Semi-Finalist and AIANTA Scholarship Recipient).

Statement of Service: I believe I can be an asset to SAIGE based on my broad range of experiences both in the roles of support staff as well as being in charge of teams and projects. I have experience being one of many working towards a common goal as well as being one of a very few on a team that works toward a specific goal. I know other Warriors have served on the board, so I don’t profess to bring any unique talents that you haven’t seen before, but I am an experienced, hard worker who will contribute to the success of the board should I be selected to serve. I consider it an honor to have been nominated by my supervisors, and an even greater honor should I be selected.


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