Owela Advisory Board

Owela Advisory Board Members

1. Maria Dadgar

Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Growth

PACE Pacific Corporation

Maria Dadgar is an enrolled member of the Piscataway Tribe of Accokeek, Maryland. Maria has worked in the fields of Development, Higher Education Administration and Non Profit Executive Management for more than15 years. Maria recently served as Acting President/CEO for the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development located in Mesa, Arizona where under her direction, the Arizona Native American Business Enterprise Center won two national awards from the Minority Business Development Agency Department of Commerce.

Currently, Maria holds the position of Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Growth for PACE Pacific Corporation, a Native-Owned/Woman Owned highly successful construction company located in Phoenix, AZ. Maria is a creative, results-proven management professional with entrepreneurial drive, vision and national experience in securing revenue for non-profit & for profit businesses. Experienced in national advocacy, political campaign management, federal policy development, national event coordination, and revenue capturing through private and public sectors, Maria has an extensive established network with business associates throughout Indian Country.

Previous positions include: Program Manager for American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; Executive Director of Atlatl-National Native Arts Network, Phoenix, AZ; Associate Director of Special Programs for First Nations Development Institute, Fredericksburg, VA and Director of Communications/Development with the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development in Mesa, AZ.

Maria launched her career in non-profit management as Co-Founder/National Program Coordinator of Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) at American University in Washington, D.C. during the early 90s. In addition to working at American University, Maria volunteered with the Clinton/Gore re-election team in the Office of Public Liaison, the Native American Desk at the DNC, as well as, the 1996 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies (Major: Communications, Minor: Public Relations) from American University in Washington, D.C., and has completed foundation coursework at the University of Arizona toward her Master’s Degree in Information Resources and Library Science. Maria is a former member of the Board of Directors for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona, a current Board Member for the Miracle House Foundation located on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, and a 2009 graduate of Emerge AZ a national political leadership program for women.

2. Lisa Brooks

Assistant Professor of History and Literature of Folklore and Mythology, Harvard University

Lisa Brooks (Abenaki) is Assistant Professor of History and Literature and of Folklore and Mythology. She received her Ph.D. in English, with a minor in American Indian Studies, from Cornell University in 2004, where she was honored with the Guilford Dissertation Prize for Highest Excellence in English Prose. At Harvard, she teaches courses in Native American literature, with an emphasis on historical, political, and geographic contexts. Her book, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast (University of Minnesota Press 2008), focuses on the role of writing as a tool of social reconstruction and land reclamation in the Native networks of the northeast. She also co-authored the collaborative volume, Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (2008), and wrote the Afterword for American Indian Literary Nationalism (2006). She serves on the Editorial Board of Studies in American Indian Literatures, the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and on the Advisory Board of Gedakina, a non-profit organization focused on indigenous cultural revitalization, educational outreach, and community wellness in northern New England.

3. Silent Board Member

Over 25 years of international business experience and specific work with Native tribes and individuals.

4. Ann F. Thomas,

Professor of Law and Managing Director, Graduate Tax Program, New York Law School

In 1992, Ann F. Thomas began a second career in academic law with a fellowship year at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, after 17 years (10 as partner) working in the corporate tax department at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, where she specialized in mergers and acquisitions. Ann Thomas spent two years as an adjunct professor at Yale Law School and joined New York Law Schools faculty in 1995.

Ms. Thomas, who teaches a range of tax courses and is codirector of the Graduate Tax Program, was drawn to academia because of the chance to explore and develop a subject she views as fundamental to how societies function.  Ann says her first love in taxation research is in the corporate and business context, but she also concentrates her scholarship on income tax and urges a re-examination of the assumptions about marriage and family that underlie current policy.  “Our tax subsidies should work to promote the care and nurturing of children. In modern society, families can come in many different configurations. Tax policy should support family life and not just the traditional sole-earner household”, she says.

In 1999, Ms. Thomas organized a symposium for the New York Law School Journal of Human Rights on the subject of Women, Equity, and Federal Tax Policy: Open Questions. More than 20 experts from across the countrylegal scholars, economists, and activistsspent a full day examining tax policy problems that diminish the financial security of women, including the possible marriage penalty within the income tax code. With the help of the Marjorie Cook Foundation, the Journal of Human Rights distributed the symposium volume to every member of Congress, key Treasury and White House staff, law professors, and economists. The timing coincided with fierce debates in both houses of Congress over marriage and income tax.

Although teaching tax law to future lawyers and practitioners is her primary mission, Ann uses her work in tax history to bring tax policy back to the citizens. As she sees it, tax literacy is the only way to ensure tax policies that reflect the needs of all citizens. “We need to make the theory and the history of taxation more accessible so that voters can have a more informed view of our tax policy choices. Only then will they be able to set the agenda for future policy choices,” she says.

Ms. Thomas studies and teaches about comparative systems of corporate taxation around the world and sees a need in the increasingly global marketplace for an expansion of international cooperation on business and tax issues.  She is in the process of finishing a book examining the history of the U.S. tax system during the Progressive Era and the emergence of the modern income tax system in 1913.

5. Lisa J. Watt

Founder and Principal

Tribal Museum Planners and Consultants

Lisa J. Watt (Seneca) is the founder and principal of Tribal Museum Planners & Consultants (TMP&C). For the last five years, she has been an independent museum consultant working with tribal and mainstream museums nationwide. She has worked in the museum field for over 20 years in a variety of capacities ranging from planning and fundraising to collections development and research. In addition to the small sample of organizations and projects listed below, her previous work experience includes the Wilson Quarterly of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington, DC); the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Museums, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC); and, the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon.  Her works include:

Tribal Museum/Cultural Center Development & Design Teams:

-Quinault Cultural Center, Quinault Nation, Taholah, Washington

-Hibulb Cultural Center, Tulalip Tribes, Marysville, Washington

-Confederated Tribes of Siletz, Siletz, Oregon

-Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, Oregon

Fundraising, including capital campaigns & training:

-The Coeur d’Alenes’ Old Mission State Park, Cataldo, Idaho

-The Potlatch Fund, Seattle, Washington

-Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, New York

-The Museum at Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs, Oregon

Research & Writing:

-Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Pendleton, Oregon

-The Circle of Tribal Advisors (COTA), National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri

-American Indian Museums Program, AASLH, Nashville, Tennessee

In her capacity as director of the American Indian Museums Program of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), Lisa visited approximately 70 tribal museums on 60 reservations over a two year period, gaining a clear understanding of their facilities, operations and special challenges. Her work has recently taken her to New Zealand where she was a keynote speaker at the 2005 Museums Aotearoa annual meeting and has shared information about cultural center development with several Maori tribes.

In addition, Lisa is the co-author of the chapter “Tribally Controlled Museums” that will appear in the forthcoming edition of the Smithsonian Institution’s Handbook of North American Indians due in late fall 2007.  Lisa is a current member of the Trust Board of Directors of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute (Pendleton, Oregon) and a former board member of the Oregon Historical Society (Portland, Oregon). She is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians and was born and raised on the Allegany Reservation in western New York State where her family resides.

For TMP&C, Lisa is involved with community visioning and facilitation; the crafting of values, mission & goals statements; and, program development, among other subjects.

6. Liz Obomsawin

President & CEO

Skenon Productions

Liz Obomsawin is a member of the Oneida Indian Nation and Abenaki First Nations in Canada.  Ms. Obomsawin is the CEO and President of the Sekon Productions for American/Canadian film production and currently produces and directs documentaries, short film and screenplays.  She holds her M.A. in Television-radio-film from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Liz has authored historical articles that have been featured in historical books and the prestigious NYS Encyclopedias.

Her interest in documenting oral history and tradition led her to resume her academic studies where she completed her B.A. in History in 1996 from Utica College of Syracuse University and her Masters of Arts in Native American Studies at S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo in February of 1998.  Raised on the Onondaga Indian Territory, the Oneida Indian Territory, and the Odanak Indian Reserve in Quebec, she was taught the songs, dances, legends and the oral history from a variety of Elders throughout her life.

To receive a copy of Owela Focus Group video, please contact Michelle Schenandoah directly.

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