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2023-2024 Board of Directors

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Melissa Harris




Representative to the NHSA Board

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Ann Cameron

ITC of Michigan Head Start/EHS

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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.

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.

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President Elect

Andrea Pesina
Pueblo of Isleta HS/EHS




Jenny Oatman

Nez Perce Head Start/EHS



Representative to the NHSA Board

Andrea Pesina is a proud community member of Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico.  In 1987, she graduated from the Isleta Pueblo Head Start program. Years had passed, she became a Head Start Parent and, soon after, an Employee. Andrea has been employed with the Isleta Head Start program for 17 years. She started as a Teacher’s Assistant, then became the Education Coordinator, and now she has been the Executive Director for almost two years. Andrea earned her Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood. Her passions include working for and giving back to her Isleta Pueblo community. 

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.

Zone 1 Representative

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

Tina Routh

Mississippi Band of Choctaw HS/EHS



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Zone 1 Alternate

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

Tina Saunooke

Qualla Boundary 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


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

Vonda Pourier
Rosebud Sioux Tribe


Zone 3 Alternate

Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

Anne Reddy

Rural America Initiatives HS/EHS



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.

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.

Zone 4 Representative

Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

Jayme Trevino

Kickapoo of Oklahoma



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Zone 4 Alternate

Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

Cheryl DuBois

Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas



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Zone 5 Representative

Colorado, New Mexico

Kathleen Sando

San Felipe Pueblo HS



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Zone 5 Alternate

Colorado, New Mexico



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Zone 6 Representative

Arizona, Navajo

Tami Brungard

Salt River HS/EHS



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Zone 6 Alternate

Arizona, Navajo


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

Stacey Cobb

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.

Please allow me to introduce myself and my background. I began with Head Start 20 years ago working as the Education and Disabilities Programs’ Manager for the Washoe Tribe Head Start. The position saw me as a support for teachers regarding questions of Best Practices and the HSPS. I was also an advocate for the children who were on IEPs and supported the parents’ questions as they moved through the IEP process with the School District. I also wrote MOUs for partnership with our LEA, local University’s Head Start and the Clinic for Mental Health Assessments.

Currently, I work for the Reno Sparks Indian Colony as the Director, and while we are short staffed, I have love being part of the classroom when needed. While I’m still learning my role, I find the work challenging yet fulfilling.

Furthermore, when I worked for the Washoe Tribe I was a writing member of the 15 person team who first planned and developed the State of Nevada’s Preschool Outcomes. I was able to work with other stakeholders in the State, and through my knowledge of Best Practices and Head Start was able to be a productive member of the team helping to establish the State’s Preschool Framework. As the Education Advisor I developed a training for the teachers and local Child Care on how to look/identify learning delays in Preschool children. This has been well-received and has allowed teachers to work early to help children who may be diagnosed with a learning disability during public education.

I currently have a Master’s in Education, and have spent time researching pedagogy and how to implement best teaching practices in the classroom.

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Zone 8 Representative

Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming

DeAnn Brown

Confederated Tribes of Siletz



Zone 8 Alternate

Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming

Hilary Gourneau

Fort Peck HS



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.

A member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Montana. Hilary grew up with an appreciation for her Native culture and traditions with support from family and community members. In May 2012, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Native American studies from Montana State University-Billings. Hilary soon accepted a teaching position at Poplar Schools where she dedicated five years of service, within the elementary and junior high. In June of 2020, Hilary graduated from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon with a Master’s in Counselor Education with a focus in School Counseling and a certificate in Trauma-Informed Services. She is also a graduate of Head Start, ℅1994.

In July 2020, Hilary accepted the position as the Fort Peck Tribes-Head Start Director. Working in education and having a passion for working with children, she was excited to gain experience within the field of early childhood education. As her career progressed, she found herself in uncharted waters due to the global pandemic, which only intensified her drive to help advocate and provide services to tribal head start students and families, along with her staff, during a turbulent time within Indian Country and the Nation.


Hilary has begun her third year as Head Start Director, where she is able to help lay the foundation for her tribal members as they begin their educational journeys. She occupies a Trustee position on her local School Board-Poplar Public Schools and is an Ex-Officio member of Montana Advisory Council on Indian Education (MACIE) representing Montana Tribal Head Starts. She believes in order for success to be possible within schools, Native students and their families need to feel connected, respected, supported, and reflected at all levels.

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


Christa Green

Central Council of Tlingit Haida



Zone 10 Alternate


Kristin Ramstad

Chugachmiut HS/EHS



Christa Green has spent the last 43 years living in the Interior & Southeast regions of Alaska & raised her 3 grown children in the community of Juneau. She is honored to be an adopted member into the Was’eneidi’ clan and was gifted the name K’eilte’en by the Bennett family.  She has served in the field of Early Childhood Education for 25 years. Her interest in the field began while still in Highschool when she started working at a childcare program. It was there that she first learned about the Child Development Associates (CDA) credential and attended her first Early Childhood Conference. During the conference, she felt that she was in a valuable and impactful field and her heart settled into this was what she was meant to do. As time passed, she earned a Child Development Associates Credential worked at a Migrant Seasonal Head Start program, then later joined Tlingit & Haida Head Start as a Teacher Aide in 2001. During her 13-year tenure at Tlingit & Haida Head Start, she has served as Lead Teacher, Family Partnership Coordinator and Education & Disabilities Coordinator, Site Supervisor, and ERSEA Coordinator. During this time, she diligently worked on continuing her education earning her Associates Degree & Bachelor’s degree as Head Start kept on raising the bar. She never thought that she would find herself as the newly appointed Head Start Director nearly 20 years later. In between, she worked with the Association for the Education of Young Children providing training and technical assistance for Childcare Providers across Southeast Alaska and has mentored many childcare providers through the CDA Process and was a Social Worker at the local Hospital.  Her heart is in advocating for the American Indian and Alaska Native families and teachers to ensure that their voices are heard and honored as they share what is valued and important for their children to learn. After work hours she can be found playing outside in the old growth forests, gathering plants & berries, or drumming and singing with her sisters around the fire. 

Kristin Ramstad is the Director for Chugachmiut Birth to Five Head Start.  Kristin is a life-long Alaskan with over 25 years’ experience working for Head Start. Most of her career has been in supporting, managing, or directing Head Start and Early Head Start programs in remote Alaskan AIAN communities.  Ever since she started as a Family Services/Mental Health Coordinator, Kristin’s passion has been for providing and advocating for, high quality culturally appropriate Early Head Start and Head Start services to children, families, and communities across Alaska. For Kristin, it is all about “the kiddos and their families.” 

Kristin has over 10 years’ experience as a Head Start Director/Executive Director, was a Region XI Training and Technical Assistance Grantee Specialist, and a Developmental Specialist in Early Intervention. To expand much-needed 0-3 services and support Head Start in rural and remote Alaska, Kristin wrote and led Alaska Native Education and Administration for Native American grants to provide culturally relevant home visiting programs.  Kristin has her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education.


Senior Manager

Teri Stringer

Three Feathers Associates


Senior Manager

Kristi Bentkowski

Three Feathers Associates


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