Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma
Heather Miller is an enrolled member of the Wyandotte Nation from Oklahoma and has a passion for seeing Native American organizations succeed. She began her professional career in Montana where she helped Native Nonprofit organizations develop their capacity. She then worked in Seattle with 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. Her passion for developing capacity led her to start a consulting business where she helped Native nonprofits grow their own abilities to be successful. She recently moved to Chicago and is happy to have joined the American Indian Center team. In her free time Heather loves cooking with her partner Ryan and taking their puppy dog Winnie Cooper on walks as they explore the city.
Arts & Development 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 Director of Development and Arts Coordinator for the American Indian Center, providing leadership, coordination and program development for organizational fundraising endeavors. For several years, Dave served as a Grant Review Panelist for the Illinois Arts Council (i.e., Ethnic and Folk Arts and the Local Arts Agencies Advisory Panels), and 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.
Project Beacon Program Manager
White Earth Ojibwe
Emily Loerzel holds her Master's in Social Work and is currently continuing for her Doctorate in Social Work. Before coming to the AIC, she worked in the fields of domestic violence, case management, homelessness, and chronic mental health. She is currently managing a Department of Justice grant called “Project Beacon,” which focuses on providing comprehensive services to Native American victims of sex trafficking. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Niijii.
Standing Rock Lakota & Bad River Band of Chippewa
David Bender (Lakota/Ojibwe) is the AIC’s Community Organizer. His has organized around the divestment campaigns against the Dakota Access Pipeline with a local group called the Illinois Water Protectors. In the past year he has worked in coalitions that seen great success. From the passing of an Indigenous People’s Day recognition resolution and the passing of the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) which passed in the Illinois General Assembly December 2016. When not working on Community Organizing he is enjoys spending time out in nature with his family.
First Nations Cree
An advocate of social and environmental justice, Fawn has been raising awareness ofNative 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.
Grounds & Maintenance Manager
Sisseton Wahpeton Lakota