2021-2022 Board of Directors

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Lee Turney

Leech Lake Head Start/EHS



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Ann Cameron

ITC of Michigan Head Start/EHS

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Lee Turney is currently the Early Childhood Development Director for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and has served in that capacity for the past 25 years. The early childhood program provides management and oversight to 18 service delivery and capacity building grants from both Federal and State agencies. The total budgets for these grants total in excess of 7 million dollars annually.

Ann Cameron is the Head Start Director of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc., Head Start and Early Head Start Programs.  She is responsible for the overall administration of early childhood programming for seven tribal communities.  She also serves as the Online Student Advisor for the Bay Mills Community College Early Childhood Education students.  She is a member of the American Indian Alaska Native Head Start Research Center Steering Committee and is a long-standing member of the National Indian Head Start Directors Association Board of Directors.

President Elect

Melissa Harris




Representative to the NHSA Board


Jenny Oatman

Nez Perce Head Start/EHS



Representative to the NHSA Board

Melissa F. Harris is the Executive Program Director for ISWA Head Start, serving the Catawba Nation. Her passion in life is helping individuals and families in the process of becoming the best version of themselves. As a citizen of Catawba Indian Nation, her Native American principles inspire her to celebrate her people’s stories, heritage and the values of community-family that extends to others well beyond the Catawba Nation. Her priorities in her life starts with her own children and family to model success in all aspects of life, championing families and individuals is her heart’s desire in the Head Start program. Melissa serves on the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. Education Committee and as a Board member for Fathers and Families of America Coalition, Tribal Affiliate lead. She also is a certified Life Coach. Melissa enjoys travel, dancing and supporting her four children in their musical and football endeavors.

Jennifer Oatman, enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe, is the Director of the Mamáy’asnim Hitéemenwees (Children’s Place of Learning) for the Nez Perce Tribe located in northcentral Idaho.  Jennifer has over 20 years’ experience with the Nez Perce Tribe in the HS/EHS field. First and foremost as a parent, Policy Council member, employee, program director, and as a Tribal Council member.  After nearly two decades working in the HS / EHS field and through various elected Tribal Council and Tribal General Council officer positions within her Tribe, Jennifer knows what truly matters to tribal people and AIAN early education programs—and it’s not a one-size fits all tribal approach. It’s an understanding that each tribe is unique but united in our desire to save, document, revitalize, learn, re-learn, maintain, share, sustain, perpetuate and preserve AIAN history, language, and culture for future generations. What better place to start than AIAN HS/EHS programs which are the heartbeat of tribal communities.

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Zone 1 Representative

Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New York,
North Carolina, South Carolina

Tina Saunooke

Qualla Boundary HS/EHS



Zone 1 Alternate

Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New York,
North Carolina, South Carolina

Tina Routh

Mississippi Band of Choctaw HS/EHS



Ms. Routh is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and lives on the Pearl River Indian reservation in Choctaw, Mississippi.  Ms. Routh is celebrating 29 years of marriage and has three children.  Ms. Routh has a Master of Arts from Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. 
Ms. Routh brings 22 years of management, training and technical assistance experience in early childhood environments, including 6 years as a department supervisor, 9 years as a Child Development Specialist of a four county-wide agency. She has trained Head Start, early head start, and childcare staff. Active in state associations, she has served on planning committee for training in Mississippi. She has presented at numerous state, regional and national conferences and has participated in numerous federal reviews as a CLASS reviewer. Ms. Routh is the current director of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Department of Early Childhood in Choctaw, Mississippi.  

Zone 2 Representative

Minnesota, Wisconsin

Vanessa Goodthunder

Lower Sioux EHS



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Zone 2 Alternate

Minnesota, Wisconsin

Luanne Wiggins

Bad River HS/EHS



Vanessa believes that language can be used to heal from historical trauma and has dedicated her life to learning and teaching her languages (Dakota and Dine). Vanessa has worked with the nonprofit organization called Daḳota Wic̣oḣaƞ (Dakota Way of Life) as both a youth participant and later, a language instructor supporting Dakota language curriculum development. She was the Aide to the Chief of Staff and Tribal Affairs Policy Advisor in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. She is member of the National Indian Head Start Directors Association Board where she represents Zone 2 for AIAN Head Starts. She recently helped opened and currently serves as the Director of the C̣aƞṡayapi Waḳaƞyeża Owayawa Oṭi- A Dakota Immersion Early Head Start and Head Start, the first Dakota Head Start in the State of Minnesota.  

Zone 3 Representative

Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

Anne Reddy

Rural America Initiatives HS/EHS



Zone 3 Alternate

Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

Vonda Pourier
Rosebud Sioux Tribe


Anne Reddy is a former Head Start Parent, current EHS Grandparent, and has been a Director for 20 years. She is the mother to 2 daughters and grandmother to 4 granddaughters, and owns 2 very spoiled chihuahua’s. Ann is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and currently her program serves 271 Children on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation and in Rapid City South Dakota. She enjoys advocating for our American Indian Children in the region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Vonda Pourier is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She is a former Head Start parent and began her employment with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Head Start program in 1987 as a Social Service Parent Involvement Coordinator. In 2010, she applied for the Director position and was hired by the Tribal Council. Vonda loves her job as the Director and strongly advocates for all Region 3 concerns and issues and strives to highlight all the positive endeavors and hard work our Regional programs are accomplishing.

Zone 4 Representative

Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

Robert Pickens

Chickasaw Nation Head Start



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Zone 4 Alternate

Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

Cheryl DuBois

Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas



Robert Pickens, Director of Early Childhood/Head Start, Division of Education, Department of Community Services. Mr. Pickens has 28 years of service in public education with 24 of these in executive administrative positions. Since his employment with the Chickasaw Nation in 2000 he has been involved in numerous programs of the Chickasaw Nation Education Division. He currently serves on the National Indian Head Start Director’s Board, National Johnson O’Malley Association Board of Directors, the Oklahoma Indian Head Start Directors Association.

Zone 5 Representative

Colorado, New Mexico

Jo Williams

Alamo Navajo HS/EHS




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Zone 5 Alternate

Colorado, New Mexico

Andrea Pesina
Pueblo of Isleta HS/EHS



Jo Williams is a former Head Start parent, and obtained her BA when she had her youngest children in a Head Start program. Three of her four children attended Head Start, and she found that their future experiences in school were enhanced by their participation in the program.  Jo is a widow with all grown children and 3 grandchildren, one of which attended Early Head Start. Currently, she is a Director at a program that houses an Early Head Start, a Head Start, a FACE (Family and Child Education) program and a Growing in Beauty program. It also provides wrap around child care, sometimes in conjunction with the Navajo Nation Child Care Development Fund and an Early Intervention Program. She has been the Director there since 2010, and was the Education Coordinator prior to that for 5 years. Jo has two Master’s degrees, one in Special Education and one in Educational Administration. She has 4 Level III licenses with the State of New Mexico Public Education Department:  Elementary Education, Special Education, Early Childhood and Administration. She has a total of 32 years working in the educational field either as a teacher or as an administrator. Jo was raised on a ranch next door to the community she currently serves, went to school with many of the parents and grandparents of the children her program serves, and has a unique perspective to see the issues and concerns of the Native community from within as well as from outside. 

Zone 6 Representative

Arizona, Navajo

Cheryl Conde

Tohono O'Odham HS



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Zone 6 Alternate

Arizona, Navajo

Tami Brungard

Salt River HS/EHS



Cheryl Conde is the Senior Program Manager for the Tohono O’odham Nation Head Start Program.  She has 24 years of Early Childhood education experience as a Teacher Aide, Teacher, Health Specialist and now the Program Manager (Director).  She has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and is now pursuing her second Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.  The Tohono O’odham Nation is the second largest reservation in Arizona in both population and geographical size, with a land base of 2.8 million acres and 4,460 square miles, approximately the size of the State of Connecticut.  They are funded for 215 children and have 7 sites across their nation and 2 Home Based areas.  Cheryl’s priorities are her family, especially her children.  She loves to spend quality time with them whether it be at home watching TV or traveling with her husband’s waila band.  

Tami Brungard is the Early Childhood Leader at the Early Childhood Education Center for Salt River Schools. She started the position in June of 2014. Prior to moving to Arizona, Tami worked for 30 years in school districts in Adams County Colorado as a Paraprofessional, Preschool and Kindergarten Teacher, Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator and Coach, Colorado Preschool Program District Coordinator and Assistant Principal. Tami participated in the CDE ECE roundtable meetings. Tami participated in the CDE Results Matter Video Project.
Tami received her BA in Elementary Education with an endorsement in at the University of Northern Colorado.  Tami has a MA in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in literacy. Her ED. S is in Educational Leadership. She has an Arizona Principal’s License and an Arizona Elementary Teacher license with endorsements in Early Childhood Educational and Bilingual, Multicultural Education. 

Zone 7 Representative

California, Nevada

Crystal Kremensky
Mountain Empire HS

Zone 7 Alternate

California, Nevada

Rhonda Laughlin

Reno Sparks HS



Hello everyone, my name is Crystal Kremensky. I am the Early Childhood Director for Mountain Empire Unified School District.  I oversee our Campo Kumeyaay Head Start program, Potrero State Preschool and Campo State Preschool. I have been the director for over 8 years and in the profession of Early Childhood Education nearing 24 years. Our Head Start program serves 20 students and families in a center-based, full-day preschool. 
As the ECE Director, I take great pride in knowing that our centers are ones that strive for excellence, and quality in child care while promoting diversity, culture, and history  our Co-operative spirit. Our programs are all top rated in the QRIS (Quality rating and Improvement System). We have a wonderful complement of staff; dedicated and truly amazing at what they do. 
Part of my role as ECE Director is to keep abreast of, and advocate for the Early Childhood profession. I currently sit on various committees including the NIHSDA (National Indian Head Start Director’s Association), the AB377 Pilot Project committee for San Diego County, and the Cuyamaca College Advisory Committee.  Being a part of these professional networks allows me the opportunity to share information with our staff and build continuing knowledge.

Rhonda Laughlin is the Manager of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Head Start Program in Reno, Nevada.  She is a relatively new director having been in this position for a little over a year now, but with fifteen years in the program, she is not new to Head Start.  Before her career with Head Start she was a director at a private for-profit childcare center for eleven years. Rhonda has been married for thirty-six years with two children and four grandchildren (that all went to Head Start) that she loves spending time with camping, four wheeling, or playing board games with.

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Zone 8 Representative

Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming

DeAnn Brown

Confederated Tribes of Siletz



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Zone 8 Alternate

Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming


DeAnn Brown is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and has two children, Brandy Florendo (Warm Springs/Wasco/Siletz), and Westman Mathews (Pawnee/Comanche/Siletz), one grandson, Kai Florendo Blomstrom (Warm Springs/Wasco/Siletz), and numerous granddogs and grandcats.  She began as the Head Start Director for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in 1992 and assumed leadership of the tribe’s CCDF program in 1998 and the tribe’s childcare center in 2014.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her family.

Zone 9 Representative


Debbie Sioux Lee


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Zone 8 Alternate


Mary DuPuis

Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation



Deborah is the Program Director for the Nisqually Tribe Early Learning Programs which includes Early Head Start, Head Start, Early Childhood Disabilities, and Healthy Family’s. Deborah has been serving the Nisqually Tribal community since 2004, and before that worked for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation Prenatal-to-Five Head Start program in Seattle, Washington. 

Aside from serving children and families in Early/Head Start, Deborah served 12 years as Commissioner for the Washington State Human Rights Commission, the state agency that enforces the Washington State Laws Against Discrimination. Deborah is also the co-founder and Board Chair of the Washington Indian Civil Rights Commission since its founding in 2008. In 2016, Deborah was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Governor’s Early Learning Advisory Council where she continues to serve as the Puget Sound Regional Head Start Representative to the WA State Department of Early Learning. Deborah’s also serves the United States National Representative to the World Forum Foundation, Board Member to the Equity in Education Coalition, and a member of the Board of Trustee’s for the Childcare Action Council. Deborah is NIHSDA’s Zone 9 representative for Washington State. 

Dr. Mary DuPuis, is the Director of Education and Development for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (Chehalis) and an enrolled member of the Chehalis Tribe, which is located in Oakville, WA. She received her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from the University of Utah, her Masters of Public Administration with an Emphasis in Tribal Governance from the Evergreen State College, and her Doctorate of Indigenous Development and Advancement from Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi in Whakatane, New Zealand. Her master’s thesis focused on the development of Tribal history curriculum for implementation in school districts, and her doctoral dissertation, A Long Time Ago, When the Earth Was Young, an examination of Chehalis Tribal history from a Chehalis Tribal perspective, won the award for top thesis the year she graduated. 

As Director of Education and Development, Mary supervises the child care, Head Start and Early Start programs for the Chehalis Tribe. Previously, Mary was an instructor in the Reservation Based, Community Determined Program at the Evergreen State College where she taught college level junior and senior students at the Nisqually and Chehalis Tribal sites. During this time, she was also employed by the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA) as the Program Coordinator for Fiscal Services for their Tribal TANF program. Mary has been a foster parent since 2002 and she is a former student and former Policy Council member of the Chehalis Tribal Head Start program.

Mary and her husband have four children, three of whom previously attended the Chehalis Tribal Head Start/Early Head Start and she resides in Olympia, WA. 

Zone 10 Representative


Beverly Mierzjek

Aleutian/Pribilof Islands



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Zone 10 Alternate



Beverly “Bonnie” Mierzejek, Head Start Division Coordinator

Employment History: Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc.- Anchorage, Head Start Education Coordinator & Division Coordinator; Central Council Tlingit & Haida- Juneau, Curriculum Coordinator; Pribilof School District- St. George Island, Elementary Teacher


Educational Background: University of California, Los Angeles School of Management- Head Start Management Program Certificate; University of Alaska Fairbanks- Rural Human Services Counseling Certificate; Sheldon Jackson College, Sitka, AK- Bachelor’s in Elementary Education


Family Background: Born and raised in St. George Island, AK to the late Fr. Deacon Andronik and Matushka Elekonida Kashevarof. Married to Chris Mierzejek and have one daughter, Samantha. Sam lives in Boise, ID with her newlywed Husband, Cliff, and their three “fur”babies. Grandbaby due in May!

Favorites: Spend time learning from our Elders; Love to Travel; Aleut Basket Weaving and skin sewing


Senior Manager

Teri Stringer

Three Feathers Associates


Senior Manager

Kristi Bentkowski

Three Feathers Associates