The Native Justice Coalition is guided by our councils in our conference, programs, special projects, other community engagement work as well as growing and sustaining our work. The Elders Council was launched in 2020. We recently launched the Decolonizing Philanthropy Advisory Council in 2021.
Our Elders Council is an integral part of the coalition, our work, programs, mission, and vision. From healing stories, taking action for the water, our land, sobriety, spiritual support, mascot work, Indigenous law, treaty rights, and revitalizing our culture are some of the amazing things these elders have engaged in. This work spans the individual, family, community, and political aspects of life. In turn, this work supports and strengthens the work of the Native Justice Coalition by truly fulfilling the mission and vision we seek for our people and communities.
We have representation from the Three Fires Confederacy across Anishinaabe Aki – Michigan. Many members of our council have participated as speakers and panelists at the Anishinaabe Racial Justice Conference. Also, they have been Story Sharers at our Anishinaabe Healing Stories on Racial Justice Program. The council serves to advise the Native Justice Coalition in all of its aspects, support its growth, strengthen existing connections, as well as grow this work across our Great Lakes Native communities.
Dr. Cross is an Associate Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University-School of Social Work and a Tribal Researcher and Consultant. She is a citizen of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. She has taught for Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, SCIT College, and Arizona State University. Her research and publication topics include; U.S. Boarding School Trauma, American Indian Grand Families, and Cultural Response to Physical Pain. In addition, she has presented for international, national, regional conferences. She has received several awards for her dedication to the social work profession. She works for collaboration between Academe and Tribal Nations for the benefit of both entities. She is a traditional dancer, a beadwork and shawl artisan. Also, in the past, she and her husband have provided foster care for American Indian children.
Linda (Zhaawanong NimKii Kwew, Southern Thunder Woman) holds many titles from Sister to Organizer to Activist. She is a mother of 23 children of an Anishinabe extended family, grandmother of 60, and great-grandmother of 27. Linda is a Co-founder of the Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, a member of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, Co-Founder of Native Rights Michigan, Chairperson of the NASCO Movement (Native American Student Community Organization Movement), and past Director and Co-Chair of AIM (American Indian Movement) West Michigan. Linda is a former Fellow at the ARCUS Center at Kalamazoo College. She has been going into the prison systems for over 40 years helping Native peoples as a Spiritual Advisor for INU (Indian Nations United). In addition, she founded Harvest Fall Social Dance Gathering, and Land of Falling Waters Traditional Pow Wow. Linda also planned and worked on the Water Walk around Lake Michigan with Grandmother Josephine. She is a traditional woman dancer and has received many awards and recognitions throughout the years. Linda has been a part of the Native Justice Coalition since its inception. She has participated as a presenter at our Anishinaabe Racial Justice Conference, Story Sharer at our Anishinaabe Healing Stories on Racial Justice events, as well as attended numerous events.
Frank Ettawageshik lives in Harbor Springs, Michigan, with his wife Rochelle. He served in tribal elected office for sixteen years, fourteen as the Tribal Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Harbor Springs, Michigan. During his tenure as Tribal Chairman he was instrumental in the adoption of the Tribal and First Nations Great Lakes Water Accord in 2004 and the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty in 2007. Recently he was appointed Tribal Court Appellate Justice for his tribe.
Since 2009 Frank has been serving as the Executive Director of the United Tribes of Michigan. He also serves on the board for the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Michigan Water Use Advisory Council, and on the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission. In 2017 he was appointed to the Environmental Justice Working Group by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Internationally, he has represented the National Congress of American Indians at several meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris, France, in Bonn, Germany, in Katowice, Poland, and in Madrid, Spain. He has also participated in meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Decolonizing Philanthropy Advisory
To bring together a group of Native and non-Native leaders from across the philanthropic sector to work together on addressing the long-term systemic injustices and racism embedded in philanthropy, particularly through the lens of supporting Native communities.
“Over the past decade, U.S. foundation support benefitting Native Americans declined from 0.5 percent to 0.3 percent of total foundation giving. According to Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, total grant dollars targeting Native Americans dropped 30.8 percent in the latest year, compared to a 14.1 percent overall downturn in foundation giving.” – Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples
Decolonize: The active and intentional process of unlearning values, beliefs, and conceptions that have caused physical, emotional, or mental harm to people through colonization. It requires a recognition of systems of oppression. Decolonization is about shifting the way Indigenous Peoples view themselves and the way non-Indigenous people view Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, it is important to note that settler colonialism is a structure and not an event. Therefore, the work of decolonization is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing and concerted effort that must be done by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation
A native Floridian, Pam relocated to Traverse City to be a part of the work the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation is doing throughout Northwest Lower Michigan. With a Bachelor’s in Marketing from Auburn University and almost a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector—working previously for an organization that focused on collective impact, community engagement, and asset-based community development—Pam aims to promote initiatives worth following by working for progress.
Pam serves on the Board for Up North Pride, the Traverse Connect DEIB Committee, the Native Justice Coalition’s Decolonizing Philanthropy Advisory Council, and the EPIP Michigan Steering Committee. She and her partner, Roger, are grateful to live in Northern Michigan and be surrounded by the natural beauty of the region. They live in a small home downtown with their kid, Sylvan, where they try to be good neighbors and strong allies.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation
Dr. Kelly Brittain is a Senior Program Officer at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation where she is responsible for research, community health and capacity building grant making in Mid, West and Northern Michigan as well as the Foundation’s response to health equity, maternal and infant outcomes, and substance use disorder.
Formerly, Dr. Brittain was an Associate Professor at the Michigan State University College of Nursing teaching Public Health Nursing and Evidence-Based Practice courses. As a researcher, she focused on improving health outcomes by helping individuals make informed decisions about their health using mobile technology and social media. As a practicing nurse, Dr. Brittain has nearly thirty years of public and community health experience in health promotion/risk reduction serving youth to older adults in multiple areas of practice ranging from school-based health centers, parish nursing, hospitals, care management, primary care, and a comprehensive cancer center.
Dr. Brittain is a two time graduate from the College of Nursing at Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Science in Nursing with a focus on Urban & Community Health. She has a Ph.D. in Nursing with a concentration on health promotion & risk reduction from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. As a forever nurse, Dr. Brittain is dedicated to improving the health of all.
Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Janean Couch is a Program Director at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. In her role, Janean has a leadership role in grantmaking. She also plays a key role in initiating new prototypes for and helping to develop new ways to resource community organizations through the lens of racial, social, and economic justice.
Prior to joining Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Janean spent nine years at Grand Valley State University. Her roles at GVSU included program coordinator at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy and assistant director in the Career Center. Janean is a founder and advisory board member of Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions (BL2END), previous board member at the YWCA of West Central Michigan, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She was named one of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s Young Athena finalists in 2014 and the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty, Class of 2015. Previously, Janean served as a Big Sister for seven years and as a board member for the GVSU alumni association. She received a Bachelor of Science in Public and Nonprofit Administration and a Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education from Grand Valley State University.
Janean married her college sweetheart Michael and lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. In their spare time, they enjoy building relationships with family and friends, shopping and traveling and giving back in any way they can to the community.
Stryker Johnston Foundation
Lindsey is from Kalamazoo, MI. She serves as the Operations Coordinator at the Stryker Johnston Foundation. She earned both of her graduate degrees in Organizational Change Leadership and Education from Western Michigan University. Lindsey has been immersed in the nonprofit sector for over 10 years and has experience in grant writing, organizational design, and youth development. Recognizing the importance that the “people who are closest to the pain, should be closest to the power,” Lindsey believes in the potential of collaboration, centering the people impacted, and telling the whole truth.
Native Americans in Philanthropy
Dawn Knickerbocker (She/Her/Hers/Kwe) belongs to the Anishinaabe people, is a citizen of White Earth Nation/ gaa waabaabiganikaag, enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe from the Ottertail Pillager Band of Indians. Dawn is an activist, advocate, organizational strategist, land and water defender, and a leader in the philanthropic sector. She believes that peace is not merely a distant goal but can be achieved within our lifetime through deeply connected and authentic relationships with the land and the people. Having spent over 20 years of her work life as a grass roots organizer on the front lines of earth-related matters, she now serves as the President of the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition, co-leader at Yellow Springs Climate Action, and is the Vice President of External Engagement at Native Americans in Philanthropy.
Dawn spent the majority of her career working in nonprofit leadership and in practice of reciprocity within philanthropy. She worked as a grant-maker in Washington State when she designed and implemented Spokane Arts Grant Awards (SAGA) that serves over a million people. Dawn is the former elected Chair of the Advisory Commission on Diversity for the most diverse city in the State of Washington, Renton. She is a published nonfiction writer, poet, public speaker, columnist, and the 2020 Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Award recipient. Dawn holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Whitworth University, completed graduate work in social impact from Claremont Lincoln University, and a master’s in arts in human rights practice from University of Arizona. Her latest anthology is titled: NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC: Stories of Hope and Resilience. Dawn resides in Yellow Springs, Ohio with her husband and four sons.
Council of Michigan Foundations
Bridget McGuiggan (She/Her) is the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) for the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). In her role, Bridget leads the development, monitoring, implementation, evaluation and advancement of CMF’s short- and long-term goals within its strategic framework in collaboration with president and CEO Kyle Caldwell and the organization’s staff team. Her work also centers on formulating strategy-driven priorities, plans and processes that further CMF’s mission to lead, strengthen and support the CMF community of philanthropy, ensuring efforts across the organization are aligned to CMF’s commitment to putting equity at the center and living its values. Bridget was appointed to the role of CSO after previously serving as CMF’s Director of Communications and Knowledge Insights.
Prior to joining CMF, Bridget spent 15 years working in strategy, marketing and evaluation as a member of the administration for school systems in Illinois. Bridget earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing and holds an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) certification. She is currently enrolled in a program to earn her MBA.