Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma
Heather Miller is an enrolled member of the Wyandotte Nation from Oklahoma. Her passion for seeing Native American organizations succeed inspires her in her role as the current Executive Director of the American Indian Center in Chicago. She began her professional career working for Hopa Mountain in Montana where she helped Native Nonprofit organizations develop their capacity. She then worked in Seattle with Potlatch Fund, a Native American Foundation where she continued to provide capacity building trainings to Native organizations as well as teach non-Native Foundations how to work appropriately with Indian Country. She has worked to develop programs, lead organizations and direct grants of various sizes. Heather currently serves as a Board Member and Program Committee Chair for the Chicago Cultural Alliance. She holds a Bachelors of Philosophy from Miami University in Ohio and a Masters of Native American Studies from Montana State University. Heather is also a graduate of the Leadership, Apprentice, Economic and Development program through First Nations Development Fund and a graduate of the Cascade Executive Program through the University of Washington. She is also a 2019 Leaders For A New Chicago Awardee.
Project Beacon Program Manager
Eastern Band Cherokee & Oneida
Kandi Fowler is a Chicago Native who began her life in the circle of uptown as a child until the late 1970’s. Kandi has an extensive history of over thirty years in human sex trafficking and addictions. Kandi has dedicated her life to helping those who are still caught in that vicious cycle. She has over fifteen years of experience working within a variety of social service agencies specializing in human sex trafficking, drug/alcohol addiction, mental health, Trauma and the incarcerated. Kandi holds certifications in Drug- Alcohol Addiction, Mentally Ill Substance Abuse, Nationally Certified Anger Management Specialist (NAMA), HIV-Specialist IL. Department of Public Health, Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence along with various other certifications and is well versed in Complex Trauma/PTSD. She is a trainer of trainers in “Breaking the chains of Trauma”Correctional Counseling, Inc. Kandi’s passion for helping others is born out of her own experiences of survival and her path to empowerment. Kandi desires to help those who are still afflicted by assisting them in discovering and awakening to their own power within using holistic and culturally informed approaches.
Project Beacon Intake Case Manager
Shaan Souliere is a member of Garden River First Nation Band of Ojibwes and a new resident of Chicago. She is a Victims Advocate certified to serve survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and earned Certificates of Training for “Beauty from Ashes” / ALET-Advanced Leadership Education at Garden River First Nations. Raised in a home where socio-political issues among First Peoples were emphasized just as much as faith, music, and the arts, Shaan developed deep spiritual roots alongside a passion for equity for her people at a young age. Driven to pursue a balanced, hands-on way of experiencing life, Shaan’s professional experience is eclectic, from social justice to health and wellness, reflecting her respect for the diverse nature of creation and the belief that profound change within a society begins with healing the heart of its people. Shaan enjoys reading, sketching, writing, photography, video games, stopping to pet every dog and cat she sees, thunderstorms, her bed, and a good honest belly laugh. Also, coffee. Lots of coffee.
Development and Arts Coordinator
Dave earned his M. A. in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since 2002 he has undertaken myriad curatorial practices/exhibitions. Dave served on the Local Arts Agencies Advisory Panel for the Illinois Arts Council and taught a contemporary Native American contemporary art history course at Native American Educational Services College and the College of DuPage. He also served as a co-curator of the “Our Lives” inaugural exhibit about contemporary urban Native Americans at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. From 2007-10, Dave was the Assistant Curator at Aurora University’s Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures. From 2007-2015, he served on the board of directors for the First Nations Film and Video Festival. Dave remains an active consultant for Native-based public arts programming for purposes of (Native) self-representation through image, sustaining cultural practices, attaining community balance, and for the sake of pedagogical missions to the broader community. Presently, Dave is the Development and Arts Coordinator for the American Indian Center, providing leadership, coordination and program development for organizational fundraising endeavors. For several years, Dave served on the Scholarship Committee for the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Chicago Chapter. In 2013, via Native Americans in Philanthropy, Dave completed the Circles of Leadership Academy - a vital leadership development program designed to educate and empower Native American leadership in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.
First Nations Oji-Cree
An advocate of social and environmental justice, Fawn has been raising awareness of Native Peoples living in Chicago with the goal of contributing to the personal sovereignty, healing, and educational pursuits of Indigenous people.
As the Education Coordinator, Fawn’s work is divided into 3 main categories Youth and Family Services, Education Reform, and Indigenous Ecology. Through her work Fawn advocates and educates for the protection of Indigenous plants, heritage foods, artistic expression and oral histories through developing ongoing programs such as Indigenous Science Series: Reclaiming Chicago. Fawn is also a founding member of Chi-Nations Youth Council and has served the American Indian Community twice as Miss Indian Chicago. In addition, Fawn is a Grow Your Own Candidate and collaborator on the Teacher Testimony Project; which is focuses on uplifting and empowering teachers of color as change agents in their communities.
Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant
Ojibwe, Ponca & Sioux
My name is Stephanie Taylor and I am an Enrolled member of Lac Courte Oreilles from Hayward WI. I earned my A.A.S in Business Management at The College of Office Technology. I was born and raised here in the city of Chicago, my mother is Sharon Taylor and my Father is Malcom Big Bear.
I have 3 beautiful Children, 10-7- and 3. I grew up in and around the American Indian Center most of my childhood and into adult years. Feels great to be apart of a wonderful organization.
Communications and Campaign Coordinator
Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation
Frankie is a storyteller, teaching artist, and organizer from New Orleans, Louisiana. A recent graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Studies, with a concentration in Directing, and a minor in Digital Cinema Production.
While in school she was a co-founder of the DePaul Indigenous Alliance, a Chicago Quarter Mentor, served on the executive board of DePaul Women’s Rugby, and interned at the AIC for the Get Out the Native Vote efforts.
An advocate for indigenous representation, she believes that art and activism go hand in hand, and all art is political whether we want it to be or not. When she’s not directing, writing, or acting, her main focus is on community engagement and healing through the arts. For current and upcoming projects visit francescapedersen.com.
Grounds & Maintenance Manager
Sisseton Wahpeton Lakota