25 UNDER 25 Pictures and Biographies – UNITY, Inc.

25 UNDER 25 Pictures and Biographies

Meet the Inaugural Class

UNITY 25 UNDER 25 Youth Leadership Award Recipients


Teressa Baldwin (Inupiaq Eskimo)
Kotzebue, AK
Age: 20 Years Old

Teressa Unaliin Baldwin, an Inupiaq Eskimo from Kotzebue, Alaska, is an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego where she is pursuing a degree in Sociology and Business. During her sophomore year at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, a native boarding school in Sitka, Alaska she made the goal of saving one hundred people from committing suicide. Since then she became the founder of a suicide prevention campaign called Hope4Alaska. In which she traveled to over twenty high schools across Alaska to speak about her personal experience, and how to overcome suicide. Teressa’s work has also been recognized by President Obama in 2011, where she was recognized as a Champion for Change. Since then, Teressa has spoken on the wellbeing of indigenous people with multiple senators and congressmen. Teressa’s goal is to dedicate her life to the wellbeing of her tribe and home state of Alaska.


Maria Bartlett (Pascua Yaqui)
Phoenix, AZ
Age: 19 Years Old

Maria is a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is nineteen years old and is currently attending Arizona State University, as a student in the Barrett Honors College, studying Nonprofit Leadership and Management. Maria is very involved in her community, volunteering with the Yonokame College group through her tribe and serving as a Girl Scout troop leader. After graduation, she plans on continuing her education and starting her career in the nonprofit sector. Maria is honored to represent her tribe and community in the 25 Under 25 program.


Dahkota Brown (Wilton Rancheria)
Jackson, CA
Age: 15 Years Old

Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown is a proud California Miwok enrolled with the Wilton Rancheria and attend Argonaut High School where he recently finished his sophomore year. Apart from being an active student athlete, performing with advanced drama, maintaining a 4.1 GPA and working hard as the elected class President, he is also the founder and President of his own nonprofit organization, NERDS!  Native Education Raising Dedicated Students started in 2012 while he was in 8th grade, to help a few struggling friends pass the 8th grade and make the high school football team by maintaining the required GPA. In February, he successfully hosted the first annual NERDS Youth Gathering with over 130 youth and 23 motivational, information booths. Since then, NERDS has grown into 7 chapter clubs at different schools and within Tribes. They now have over 130 students representing NERD and still growing!


Kelly Charley (Navajo)
Teec Nos Pos, AZ
Age: 15 Years Old

Kelly Charley was born and raised in the community of Teec Nos Pos, near the Four Corners in the Navajo Nation. She attends Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, NM where she will be a sophomore. Kelly is an all-around athlete and enjoys running.  She is interested in the sciences and was a finalist at the International Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored by Intel, this past spring in Los Angeles, Ca. She plans to attend college and study to become a Pharmaceutical Research Scientist. Kelly also plans to establish her own ranch in the Navajo Nation where she can raise cattle, sheep and horses.


Taylor Ann Charlie (Navajo/Sandia Pueblo)
Phoenix, AZ
Age: 17 Years Old

Taylor Ann Charlie is currently a student at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona. She will be a senior this coming school year. Half Navajo and Sandia Pueblo, her maternal clan is Tse’njikini (Cliff Dwellers People), born for the Sun Clan (paternal clan).  As an honors student with a rigorous academic schedule, Taylor demonstrates responsibility and perseverance on a daily basis. The love Taylor has for volunteering has allowed her to be a part of some great committees, including the Arizona Governor’s Youth Committee.  This organization has allowed her to address the issues that affect the youth of Arizona by working closely with the Governor’s office of Children, Youth and Families. It is through her work on the commission that she has been able to design and implement projects that directly affect disadvantaged citizens in the Phoenix metro area.


Collin Church (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians)
Allegan, MI
Age: 19 Years Old

Collin Church is currently a junior at Michigan State University majoring in interdisciplinary humanities with a triad in professional writing, policy, and American Indian studies. He is the current chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Senior Youth Council and also serves on the National Native Youth Cabinet for the National Congress of American Indians. He is an advocate for native youth and fights to promote language, culture, and higher education.


SuSun Fisher (Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians)
Grand Ronde, OR
Age: 15 Years Old

SuSun Fisher will be attending Chemawa Indian School this fall as a sophomore. An enrolled member of the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians, SuSun is very active within her tribe and community. She is Chairman of the Siletz Tribal Youth Council and has been an advocate for the Grand Ronde Tribal Youth Council. SuSun represents her tribe as Miss Siletz (tribal royalty). She has been on student council the past 3 years. SuSun is a member of the Grand Ronde canoe family and is a Siletz feather dancer. She loves being a leader and intends to do many great things for her tribe, community and other tribes around her.


Nataanii Bahozhonii Hatathlie (Navajo)
Kirtland, NM
Age: 20 Years Old

Nataanii is originally from Arizona, raised in New Mexico, and currently a student at Stanford University in California where he is majoring in Science, Technology, and  Society with plans to attend business school. He is the recipient of the Oskison Writing Award for outstanding papers by Native American undergraduate students at Stanford. Nataanii, a distinguished leader, has been with UNITY since 2009 and served as a National UNITY Council representative for three years then served on the Executive Committee for three years as Male Member-at-Large, Southwest Representative, and Vice-President before being elected as the current Male Co-President of UNITY. He started with the Kirtland Central Diné Youth Council and worked with the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice-President to create new youth leadership groups with the vision of organizing agency youth councils to partner with the Navajo Nation government. Nataanii now works as a social entrepreneur specializing in the fields of health and youth empowerment. Nataanii’s work has allowed him to serve as a consultant to Rescue for Social Change, collaborate with the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, and he even won the 2012 Youth Advocate of the Year Award which he accepted in Washington, DC. Beyond school and work, Nataanii enjoys spending time outdoors along with sports, running, and weightlifting in his free time.


Jewel Honga (Hualapai)
Flagstaff, AZ
Age: 24 Years Old

Jewel Honga is a member of the Hualapai Tribe of Peach Springs, Arizona. She is a Management/ Marketing major and is set to graduate in May 2015 from The W.A. Franke College of Business of Northern Arizona University. Ms.Honga is the reigning 2014 Miss Indian NAU and her platform is to promote culture preservation and bring awareness of economic development through higher education. After graduation, she will attend graduate school and become the third person from her community to obtain an MBA. Her career goals are to work with native people in the areas of entrepreneurship, economic development and financial advising.


Savannah Ingram (The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde)
Gresham, OR
Age: 18 Years Old

Savannah Ingram is Kalapuya, Umpqua, Chinook and Rogue River enrolled in The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. She is a direct descendant of Chief Bogus and Judge Joseph Sangretta. Miss Ingram is the Veterans Queen for the Veterans Honor Guard of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. As Veterans Queen, she serves veterans and their families and represents the Honor Guard and Tribe at various events including pow wows, tribal events, cultural demonstrations and other activities as requested. Savannah is 18 years old. She graduated from Oregon Connections Academy in 2013; completing her high school education in three years. In June, she will finish her freshman year at Mt. Hood Community College where she will earn her Associates of Science Degree and transfer to a 4 year institution.   She plans on earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree majoring in Biochemistry, Physics or Chemistry. Savannah has actively pursued her cultural heritage.  She participates in classes offered through the Tribe. She has been dancing at pow wows since she was 8 years old and does all her own beadwork. Miss Ingram is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She has been involved in various leadership programs in school including Young Leadership Seminars, Peer Mentor, Student Leadership and Service Club member, Peer Mediator and School Ambassador. She was a Pens and Lens Magazine contributor and writer for The Monitor Student Newspaper. Savannah strives to be a positive role model for the youth in the tribe as well as a voice for the tribal members living in Portland and surrounding areas.


Megan LaRose (Navajo)
Scottsdale, AZ
Age: 16 Years Old

Megan LaRose is Tsenjiknii (Cliff Dweller), born for the Todichinii (Bitterwater). Her  Maternal Grandparents are Tse’na bilhnii (Sleepy Rock) and her Paternal Grandparents are Tabaaha (Waters Edge). She is 16 years old and originally from Klagetoh on the Navajo Nation. She lives in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community with her parents Debbie and Royce Manuel. Megan attends Mountain View High School in Mesa, AZ where she enjoys chemistry and math classes, along with softball, volleyball and basketball. Although Megan resides in an urban area, she preserves her cultural identity by participating in Diné Cultural class with the Phoenix Indian Center and sings with Diné Urban Voices. She is a member of the Morning Star Leaders Youth Council and participates in the Hoop of Learning program that prepares Native youth for college. She plans to become a Pediatrician.


Leslie Locklear (Lumbee and Waccamaw Siouan)
Red Springs, NC
Age: 23 Years Old

Leslie Locklear, a member of the Lumbee and Waccamaw Siouan tribes, hails from North Carolina. At 23 years of age, Leslie is a May 2013 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Leslie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and will complete her Masters of Education in School Counseling at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in July of 2014. In the fall of 2014 Leslie will be attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in order to begin working on her PhD in Educational Studies.


Lauren McLester-Davis (Oneida)
De Pere, WI
Age: 16 Years Old

Lauren McLester-Davis is a 16 year old Oneida Nation member from Oneida, Wisconsin. Lauren is passionate about serving in her community and has provided over 3,000 hours volunteering. Lauren promotes literacy through her foundation, First Book – Greater Green Bay. Since 2007 she has fundraised to provide 20,000 new free books to children in need. Lauren is attending Lawrence University and has achieved the following: 2014 Champions for Change; Center for Native American Youth, 2014 National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientist Scholar, 2013 Green Bay Packers Foundation Quarterback Community Service and Leadership Award, 2013 Stepping Stones to Medical Careers Scholar, University of Minnesota, Duluth.


Dyan Melvin (Hopi)
Lincoln, NE
Age: 24 Years Old

Growing up on the Hopi reservation from pre-school through high school, Dyan believes firmly that he will get out of his goals what he puts into it. This motivation is what drove him to attend undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a national top 10 university. His goal is to obtain a master’s degree in civil engineering with a structural specialty at the University of Arizona. However, this goal does not end with a master’s degree from the University of Arizona but continues with professional engineering licensing from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and structural engineering licensing from the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI).


Keturah Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe)
Mashpee, MA
Age: 18 Years Old

Keturah Nadine Peters is an active member of her youth council and has served as Vice President for the past two years as well as being an active member of our Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project. Other than tribal activities, she has been very involved with her school and community as well as maintaining high standing grades. As a result of her involvement, community service, and academic achievement, she will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall where she will major in Nursing; following her passion for helping people and interests in math and sciences.


Drew Phillips (Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi)
Battle Creek, MI
Age: 22 Years Old

Drew Phillips currently serves his tribe as the Tribal Development Specialist for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) Casino, FireKeepers Casino Hotel. He is responsible for finding job opportunities, placement, and training opportunities to Natives from both the NHBP and all others. Through lessons taught to him by his elders and family, he has gained many leadership qualities that have pushed him ahead in life. These same elders have graciously allowed him to sit on their veterans drum to learn our traditional songs, culture and values that they live by. He has also had the pleasure of teaching his tribe’s fundamental beliefs known as the Seven Grandfather Teachings to our Casino and tribal membership at their first cultural teaching event held at their Casino. Drew is looking forward to learning many things to take back to his tribe to implement and help make Indian Country a better place while maintaining the culture. He would also like to say ‘Chi-Migwéch’ (Big Thanks in Bodéwadmi) to his ancestors, elders, tribe, and family for the support. And, Chi-Migwéch to the UNITY Program for investing in the Native youth to ensure the next seven generations are taken care of.


Dallas Pinkham (Yakama)
Seattle, Wa
Age: 23 Years Old

“Plush’swa’tash”  (White Cloud) is Dallas’ Yakama name. Currently he attends Bellevue College in Washington. He has creatively been involved in filmmaking, writing, directing, producing, acting, as well as an animator, voice-over, and costume artist for 8 years. He has been recognized with Best Youth Advocacy and Best Short documentary film at Hibulb Culture Center Film Festival with Tulalip tribes. Currently, he serves as the Media Director for Red Eagle Soaring (RES) Youth Theater, youth mentor/Intern for Longhouse Media at the Superfly 36-hours filmmaking experience, and Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA)/Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth Council as a Project Facilitator.


Desirae Rambler (San Carlos Apache)
Bylas, AZ
Age: 22 Years Old

Desirae Rambler is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona. She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and immediately continued her education, with the goal of becoming a physician on her reservation. She currently attends Easter Arizona College in Thatcher, AZ, and is interested in combining traditional and Western medicinal practices as a way of helping her community to maintain health and culture. Desirae represented her tribe as Miss San Carlos Apache and was a runner up to Miss Indian Arizona. She is a strong advocate for UNITY and has also served as an Arizona youth representative to NCAI’s Youth Commission. Desirae has served as an officer for the San Carlos Apache Youth Council, an affiliate of UNITY.


TaNeel Real Bird (White Clay Tribes/ Ft. Belknap, Nakoda and Apsaalooke)
Harlem, MT
Age: 19 Years Old

TaNeel Real Bird, ‘Chi-wa-ga-la-jish’  One  Who Always Prays, is an enrolled member of the White Clay and Nakoda Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. TaNeel is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and International Relations at Penn State University, where she is a candidate for the Paterno Fellow Program and a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. She has previously attended the Harvard University Summer School Program, while serving as an intern for the Harvard University Native American Program, and is the founder of the Childhood Nations Literacy Project. Her future plans include becoming a lawyer specializing in American Indian law, where she will be able to assist the First People of this nation.


Sarah Jo Schilling (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians)
Petoskey, MI
Age: 20 Years Old

Sarah Jo Schilling, 2013 – 2014 Champion for Change. Sarah currently serves on the Center for Native American Youth’s Youth Advisory Board, and the National Congress of American Indians Youth Cabinet. Sarah is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Age 20, from Petoskey Michigan. A Co-Founder of the Waganakising Eskiniigik UNITY Council. Where she served two terms as Youth Council President, and to this day offers her advice and support to the youth council. Sarah previously held the position of Mid-West Area Representative for the UNITY Executive Committee (MID-WEST IS BEST). Sarah has a passion for her beautiful Odawa culture, her community, and seeing a prosperous future for Native American Youth.


Layha Spoonhunter (Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho and Oglala Lakota)
Fort Washakie, WY
Age: 24 Years Old

For over seven years, Layha Spoonhunter has been a strong advocate for American  Indian  youth. A member of the Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho and Oglala Lakota, he has been inspired to lead others by learning about the great chiefs like Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Washakie and Black Coal. Spoonhunter served in 2008 as the youngest Native American delegate for then Senator Obama. He danced in the 2009 and 2013 Inaugurations of President Obama and recently was selected to serve on the 2014-2015 NCAI Native American Youth Cabinet.


Nathalie Tomasik (Cherokee)
Tahlequah, OK
Age: 19 Years Old

Nathalie Tomasik is a Gates Millennium Scholar and  Acting major at Oklahoma City University. She is an alumni bike rider from the Remember the Removal bike ride and was an alto in the Cherokee National Youth Choir. She is also a member of the Cherokee Tribal Youth Council. Currently Nathalie is working as the lead in an upcoming independent film featuring well-known Native American actors in “The Heart Stays”. Nathalie’s goals and dreams are to further her career as a Native American actor in the film industries and to inspire youth to find their creativity in all aspects of art.


Haley Trefon (Dena’ina Athabascan Indian)
Sterling, AK
Age: 16 Years Old

Haley Trefon loves to play guitar with friends at school, sometimes writing her own music. Her family is Dena’ina Athabascan Indian from Nondalton, Alaska. With a strong family history, her grandparents and great-grandparents lived at Lake Clark before it became Lake Clark National Park. Their traditional values are something Haley feels needs to be passed to future generations. She is learning ways to combine traditional ecological knowledge with modern science. She hopes that it will be one way she can use her traditions to solve problems in the modern world.


W. Alex Wesaw (Pokagon Band Potawatomi)
Athens, OH
Age: 24 Years Old

W. Alex Wesaw, 24, (Pokagon Band Potawatomi) earned his Master’s of Public Administration from Ohio University in May, 2014. In August, 2014 he will begin earning his Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning, focusing on Community & Economic Development, at The Ohio State University. Before beginning to earn an MPA, Alex received his Bachelor’s in Communication, concentrating on Organizational Communication & Public Advocacy. When at college, Alex is heavily involved in tribal affairs at the local level, he serves as the Treasurer on the Senior Youth Council and the Secretary of the Apprenticeship Steering Committee of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. On the national level, Alex currently serves as the Co-President of the Youth Commission of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and is an inaugural member of the National Native Youth Cabinet within the Policy Research Center of NCAI. Additionally, Alex serves as a director on the board of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA). Lastly, Alex’s goal in this lifetime is to make meaningful change in society; in November, 2013 he attended the fifth annual White House Tribal Leaders Summit—this solidified Alex’s passion, desire, and drive to make meaningful, lasting, change in society.


Chelsea Wilson (Cherokee)
Alexandria, VA
Age: 24 Years Old

Chelsea Wilson, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, graduated from the University of Denver in 2012. Though her career path began in one of the Cherokee Nation’s casinos, she eventually worked on federal policy for her tribe’s government. In this role she wrote congressional testimony, created a voter engagement project that registered many new and first time voters and developed a legislative portfolio with issue areas including economic development, healthcare and education. Chelsea recently moved from Tahlequah, Oklahoma to Washington D.C. where she is proud to be Legislative Assistant at the Native American Contractors Association.

 

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