How We Work

For each project, MICA calls upon a diverse team of specialists in community development, government relations, grant writing, technical assistance, fundraising, project management, program development, public/private partnerships, establishing nonprofits, board development, marketing, media, strategic collaborations, and prevention campaigns. For representative projects, see Our Work below.

Fiscal Responsibility

MICA was recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service in June 2017. Financial reports are publicly available on GuideStar.


Della Warrior, M.A. (Otoe-Missouria) is the President and CEO of the MICA Group. She is a woman of firsts: First woman and first Native American Director of the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe; first woman Chair of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe; and first woman President of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). At IAIA, she raised over $100 million dollars, developed a state-of-the-art campus, and received 10-year accreditation. Warrior served as lead consultant for the development of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Chief Operating Officer of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and as a co-founder, and the second Executive Director, of the MICA Group.  She holds a graduate degree from Harvard and was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

W. Richard West, Jr., A.M., J.D. (Southern Cheyenne) is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and served as CEO of the Autry National Center of the American West. He has worked with Native Americans on cultural, educational, legal, and governmental issues for most of his life. He has served on the boards of the Kaiser Family Foundation, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Native American Rights Fund, and the Ford Foundation. West holds a master’s degree from Harvard and a law degree from Stanford.

Walter Echo-Hawk, J.D. (Pawnee) is the immediate President of the Pawnee Nation. A committed culture bearer, attorney, tribal judge, activist, educator, and author of numerous books, he served as an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund for 35 years and represented tribes and Native Americans on significant issues in modern federal Indian law. He was the Founding Board Chair for the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

Richard Trudell, J.D. (Santee Sioux) founded the American Indian Lawyer Training Program. He created the first fellowship program to assist Native American lawyers in setting up private practices on reservations and founded the American Indian Law Reporter and the American Indian Research Institute. He served on the boards of the Legal Services Corporation, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, and the Native American Rights Fund.

Samuel E. Cata (Ohkay Owingeh) is the former Director of the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. He currently serves as Tribal Consultant for the Centene healthcare corporation, a Fortune 100 company that provides accessible, culturally-sensitive services to 14.7 million healthcare subscribers in 32 states.

Valorie Johnson (Seneca-Cayuga-Eastern Cherokee) began her career as a human rights executive with the National Education Association in Washington, D.C.  After earning her doctorate in educational administration, her career encompassed leading roles in public service including as director of Native American Affairs for the State of Michigan’s department of social services, and counseling at the Institute of American Indians Arts in Santa Fe and the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. For almost 24 years, she was a program officer at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, where she focused on grassroots community organizations and educational institutions across the nation as well as leadership development in the Native American Higher Education and Minority-Serving Institutions. Johnson is a previous board member of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Tishmall Turner (Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians) is serving her second term as Vice Chair for the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. She is the first full time California Indian appointed Tribal Liaison in the California State University System, where she has been instrumental in assisting faculty to establish the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at the University. Vice Chair Turner is a Council delegate to the Rincon Tribal Enterprise Board, serves on the Palomar Health Foundation Board of Directors, the California Department of Social Services Tribal Advisory Council, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian Advisory Council. She has assisted in publishing children’s books and calendars in the Luiseño language. Vice Chair Turner holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration.


Della Warrior, M.A. (Otoe-Missouria) is the President and CEO of the MICA Group. She is a woman of firsts: First woman and first Native American Director of the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe; first woman Chair of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe; and first woman President of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). At IAIA, she raised over $100 million dollars, developed a state-of-the-art campus, and received 10-year accreditation. Warrior served as lead consultant for the development of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Chief Operating Officer of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and as a co-founder, and the second Executive Director, of the MICA Group.  She holds a graduate degree from Harvard and was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

Peggy Mainor, J.D., has served as MICA’s Executive Director for nine years. She was Senior Counsel to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), which represents 37 American Indian Tribal Colleges and Universities. As an Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellow, she lived and worked on the Ft. Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation in Wolf Point, Montana, and worked in the White House as fellow to President Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Indian Affairs. She served as general counsel for two U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittees (Democratic).  Early in her career she worked as a child abuse prosecutor at the Office of the State’s Attorney in Baltimore and later as Director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. In recognition of her work, she was named the American Bar Association’s Child Advocate of the Year.

She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where she majored in Native American Studies under Clara Sue Kidwell and co-chaired the Native American Students Association (NASA). Her law degree is from Georgetown. There she served as an Equal Justice Foundation Fellow and was an editor of the Tax Lawyer law review.

Peggy and her husband live in Baltimore, but her heart lives at the Ft. Peck Reservation. Her Assiniboine name is Pteska wįwástega.

Mona Polacca is an educator and facilitator whose knowledge, empathy and values motivate others to speak and act. She has a special interest in older people and youth, and has led or participated in many effective initiatives related to Indigenous water issues and culturally appropriate health treatments for Native Americans.

Mona has held posts of responsibility within her own community, such as Treasurer for her tribe (the Colorado River Indian Tribes). She earned a masters in social work and has over twenty years of practical experience working, presenting and publishing on health and social issues affecting Native American peoples. She is the founder, President/CEO and faculty member of the Turtle Island Project, a non-profit program dedicated to promoting a vision of wellness and providing trans-cultural training to individuals, families, and healthcare professionals, and she is an active member of the Healing the Border Project of the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders. Mona is a founding member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, which is an alliance of Indigenous women from around the world who are upholding, preserving and protecting Indigenous practices and ceremonies, including the right to use the earth-based medicines.

Mona is a longtime active participant in the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples Issues and has been invited to speak in global forums and assist in drafting declarations. In December 2008, Mona had the distinguished honor of being the representative of the Indigenous Peoples on a panel of world religious leaders. These panelists drafted and signed a statement, “Faith in Human Rights,” in commemoration of the 60th Year of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In May 2013, she and others presented an intervention at the UNPFII, “A Call for the Indigenous World Forum on Water & Peace.” Her efforts have included providing support to First Nations to build capacity to take action on climate change, build sustainable communities, protect lands and waters, and  conserve biodiversity.

Mona is motivated by her belief that climate and our future and sustainability are not just admirable goals for peoples all over the globe, but rather objectives that are attainable through dialogue among today’s leaders of spirituality and science. Her spiritual practice is grounded in the Havasupai, Hopi and Tewa Original Instructions and the Native American Church.

Jacob Manatowa-Bailey was the founding Director of the Sauk Language Department for the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma from 2005-2016.  Under his leadership the Sauk Language Department developed a team-based Master Apprentice model and created the first conversationally proficient Second Language Acquisition (SLA) speakers of the Sauk language.  

Concurrently, he served as founding Director of the Center for Tribal Languages at Bacone College. In partnership with participating Indigenous language programs, he created the Tribal Languages Degree Program, a Bachelor’s degree in language revitalization that provides students the opportunity to engage in intensive immersion learning while simultaneously gaining on-site internship experience working with Indigenous language programs.  

He currently coordinates the MICA Group’s Next Steps Project, providing planning and development assistance to Indigenous language programs. His primary areas of interest are grassroots organizing, leadership, and the human dynamics of creating conversationally proficient SLA speakers.


Dr. Harjo is an advocate for Indigenous Peoples. She is a poet, writer, curator, and policy advocate who has helped Native Peoples recover sacred places and more than one million acres of land. After co-producing with Frank Ray Harjo (Wotco Muscogee) the first Indian news and analysis program in the U.S., and serving as Director of Drama and Literature for WBAI-FM Radio Station in New York City, the Pacifica Network’s free speech flagship station, she moved to Washington, DC, in 1974, as News Director of the American Indian Press Association to work on national policy issues. She was a political appointee in the Carter Administration and served as Special Assistant – Indian Legislation & Liaison; as Legislative Liaison for the Native American Rights Fund and for the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver Law Firm; and as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians.

Dr. Harjo is President of The Morning Star Institute, a national Native rights organization. Since the 1960s, she has worked with myriad Native and non-Native students, scholars, families, Native Nations, and other governments, schools, churches, social justice organizations, and businesses and other private entities to remove “Indian” images, names, and symbols in American sports. By 2013, two-thirds (more than 2,000) of the race-based stereotypes in sports were eliminated due to these collective public campaigns and the anti-mascot movement from 1960 to today.

President Barack Obama awarded Dr. Harjo the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, at a 2014 White House ceremony with 17 other awardees.


Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee) (1945 – 2010) (MICA Co-Founder) was the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and was honored with many awards, including the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Marshall McKay (Yocha Dehe Wintun) is the chairman emeritus of the Yocha Dehe Tribal Nation. He was dedicated to the preservation of Native cultures and to sovereign tribal governance. He served on the boards of the UC Davis Foundation, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and as board chair of the Autry National Center.  He founded and chaired the Mabel McKay Foundation. McKay was appointed to the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) and the California State Historical Preservation Commission.

Linda Logan was the President/CEO of Native American Pathways, which provides training and technical assistance to Tribal communities and non-native organizations. She served on the U.S. Attorney General’s Federal Advisory Committee – Office of Victims of Crime National Coordination Committee on American Indian Alaska Native SANE-SART, National Children’s Alliance Cultural Competency Accreditation Task Force, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiians Expert Panel.  She served on the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s Board of Directors and chaired the Program Committee.

She served as a professional peer grant reviewer and conducted reviews for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Social Security Administration.

She raised over $10 million from various grant sources, and she has provided training and technical assistance in fundraising, strategic planning, program development and management, partnerships and media.

Ms. Logan formerly served as the Executive Director of the Native American Children’s Alliance, a national intertribal nonprofit that supports Tribal communities in strengthening community response to investigation and prosecution of child abuse crimes within reservations. More recently, she was with ZERO TO THREE, where she held the position of Tribal Technical Assistance (TA) Specialist, providing support to Affordable Care Act Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) tribal grantees.

Ms. Logan holds a B.A. and M.S.W. from Boston College.


Lisa Sutton has served as MICA’s financial manager for the past five years.  She has 23 years of experience in nonprofit and grant accounting. Prior to working with MICA, she was Program Coordinator for the American Indian Institute for 18 years, where she worked with Indigenous Traditional Circle Leadership. She has a B.A. degree from the University of Montana.

Lisa lives in Bozeman, Montana and has been married for 35 years to her husband, Joe.  They have two children.  She enjoys spending time with family, bicycling, hiking, camping, running, and gardening.

Erin K. Bishop, M.A. has served the MICA Group for seven years. Ms. Bishop is the owner and primary consultant of WOBA Consulting. She comes to the MICA Group with over 10 years of combined private sector and government administrative and office management experience. She served as Director of Human Resources for a non-profit health and human services organization for the latter 3 years of her corporate career where she focused on building organizational structure, redeveloping data management systems and bringing a mindful approach to the business.

Ms. Bishop holds a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Frostburg State University and a Master’s Degree in Integrative Coaching from Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH).

She lives in Mountain Maryland with her partner, enjoys mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and traveling.

Danella Hall is a member of Hopi Tribe and a descendant of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Danella has her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Gender and Women Studies from the University of Denver, as well as her Master of Public Health Degree from the University of Arizona. She has worked in different administrative roles where she provided general program administrative support, data entry, donor acknowledgement, file management, collating and analyzing data, ensuring efficient and confidential data collection.


Dr. Young Wolf is currently completing her tenure as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Associate in Native American Arts and Curation and as a Presidential Visiting Fellow at Yale.  Her work focuses on Native American and Indigenous language and culture acquisition and revitalization, building collaborative relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities, and visual anthropology.

Young Wolf credits her Indigenous communities, including her family and mentors, for supporting her education and empowering her. In accordance with the traditions of Young Wolf’s culture, it is considered an honor to have those who have supported and guided a young person to introduce him or her.

Gerard Baker, who is Mandan and Hidatsa, and has been a mentor to Young Wolf, stated, “she has learned through traditional family life, prayer, and carrying on these strong traditions with her family today.”

Lycia Maddocks is a skilled relationships and communications strategist who carries years of experience in leading campaigns and movements to advance the political power of Native people, to expand the exercise of sovereignty by tribal nations, and to increase the influence of American Indian and Alaska Native enterprises.

Veronica Pipestem, a citizen of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and an Osage headright holder, will be assigned to assist the Museum of the Pawnee Nation as MICA Humanities and Museum Specialist. Ms. Pipestem has a background in both humanities and strategic planning. Pipestem has a Master of Arts in Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor of Arts in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College. She has more than fifteen years of experience in museums and cultural programs.

Raised in New Mexico, Eric has had a lifelong concern for, and interest in, the cultures and worldviews of American Indians. The depth of his interest ultimately led to his serving as the Executive Director of the American Indian Institute (AII) in Bozeman, Montana, where he worked for 15 years. At AII, he helped create programs to ensure the perpetuation of the ancient wisdom and cultural heritage of North America’s Native people, and to promote a greater understanding of that wisdom among all people.

Eric works with a network of grassroots traditional leaders from Indian Nations through North America. In addition to his work with the MICA Group, he works for The Nature Conservancy in its Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities initiative, and for the Sacred Fire Foundation as Elder Liaison and Events Coordinator. He currently serves on the Indigenous Task Force for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Prior to his work with AII, Eric served for six years as Director of Development for PERC, an environmental think tank based in Bozeman, Montana. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Eric worked in New York, London, and San Francisco for the international finance company Credit Suisse First Boston.

Eric lives in Bozeman with his wife and three middle and high school-aged children. He earned his undergraduate degree from Colgate University in 1986, and a graduate degree from the Columbia University School of Business in 1992.

Aleena M. Kawe is an enrolled member of the Texas Band of Yaqui Indians with cultural ties to Old Pascua Pueblo in Tucson, Arizona. As founder and Principal of Red Star International, Aleena has more than 20 years experience working with indigenous communities in the U.S., Pacific Islands, and New Zealand. Much of her work has focused on strengthening partnerships to advance shared goals in the areas of public health capacity, tribally-driven and participatory research practices, community health assessment, and improvement planning. She is a strong advocate for indigenous self-determination and healthy communities.

Aleena has a Master’s degree in Public Health, Community Health Practice Concentration, from the University of Arizona, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Prior to Red Star, Aleena served as Education Director for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, where she led the development of a culturally-based charter high school and tribal library. She served as the administrator for the American Indian Research Center for Health at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, and worked in Native American student affairs at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College.

Aleena is married to Frank Te Mihinui Kawe (Ngāti Ranginui/Ngāti Kahungunu), who is active in the traditional voyaging practices of the Maori people of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Dr. Tachine’s work at the Center for Indian Education  advances ideas and strategies to increase Native college student success. She joined the center after receiving her doctoral degree in Higher Education at the University of Arizona. Dr. Tachine received the American Educational Research Association dissertation of the year award for “Division J” and received honorable mention recognition from the International Congress Qualitative Inquiry Dissertation Award. She led innovative mentoring programs where students mentor students in a cascading format (grad students help undergrads, undergrads help high school students).

She also participated in the Op-Ed Fellowship,  published in the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and The Hill.  President Obama recognized  Amanda through the White House Champions of Change program.

Mr. Garet Couch, a Shawnee tribal member, is the co-founder and President of the National Tribal Geographic Information Support Center (NTGISC).  The NTGISC and its website,, serve as a communication resource for geospatial information for Indian Country. The Tribal GIS™ organization provides a platform for tribal personnel, tribal members, faculty and students of tribal colleges/universities and supporting organizations to share professional information, progressive knowledge, and continuous education within a community of active GIS users serving tribal communities.  NTGISC helps organizations share their successes in GIS and promote knowledge sharing to help other communities and programs.

 Mr. Couch serves as Business Manager/Owner of Wind Environmental Services, L.L.C, a professional GIS firm providing GIS-related management, development, and performance of industry hardware, software, training/support, and consultation.  He is also an authorized instructor in multiple Trimble and ESRI applications and technologies. Mr. Couch has multiple publications on GIS and technology issues, and he is a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) through the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI).

Chris Scholtes is a Certified Public Accountant with over 23 years of experience in public accounting. He is President of C.E.A. Scholtes & Associates Certified Public Accountants specializing in serving non-profit organizations. He previously worked at Arthur Andersen and Co.

Dr. Rodriguez has over 30 years experience in education. As Director of Development at the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), she oversaw projects to increase school/family/community partnerships and strengthen diverse community networks. She was instrumental in designing and establishing Texas’s federally-funded Parent Information and Resource Center (PIRC), an information and resource center for under-served populations. She guided the process and implementation of ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education), a national initiative designed to increase opportunities for Latinos to enter and complete college through partnerships.

Dr. Rodriguez is a former Program Director for Youth Development, Education, and Higher Education at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In that capacity, she managed projects and reviewed and assessed proposals in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. She also directed the Foundation’s Department of Human Resources, where she managed recruitment, training, development, and evaluation.

Dr. Rodriguez was Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Chief Negotiator for the Grand Rapids Public Schools. She also served as the City’s Community Relations Commissioner. Dr. Rodriguez consults on strategic planning, project and program evaluation, and impact assessment. Born in Venezuela and raised in the Dominican Republic, she began her career in the United States as a teacher and writer of bilingual curricula. She has taught in elementary and secondary schools and in higher education.

Dr. Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Aquinas College, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Wayne State University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Michigan. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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