APPENDIX: About the Contributors
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Leslie Newman, Lead Curriculum Developer
A founding partner and co-manager of Seven Sisters Community Development Group, Leslie specializes in community development in Native and border communities, focusing on affordable housing, asset building, community development financial institution (CDFI) development, organizational development, and resource development.
Leslie has over 20 years of experience in community economic development. She has worked as the director of a small nonprofit housing development organization, a trainer, a technical assistance provider, a grant writer, and a reviewer on a federal grant review panel. She worked as a lead trainer and technical assistance provider for the “Expanding Native Opportunity: Native IDA Initiative,” sponsored by Oweesta, First Nations Development Institute, and CFED, and underwritten by the CDFI Fund. She has served as a reviewer for the Native Asset Building Initiative (NABI), a combined award of Assets for Independence (AFI) and Administration for Native Americans (ANA) funding. Leslie has also developed and teaches courses for NeighborWorks America, entitled “Surviving Harsh Elements: Enhancing a Native Organization’s Sustainability,” “Building the Capacity of Native Nonprofits,” and “Creating a Path to Self- Sufficiency through Native Integrated Asset Building Strategies.”
For the past 20 years, Leslie has focused much of her work on asset building in Native communities, concentrating on Native homeownership, CDFI development, and the creation and implementation of Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. Over the past five years, she has worked intensively to support the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, which is working to address obstacles to Native homeownership, including access to financing, land and infrastructure issues, and homebuyer readiness. Her work with the Coalition focuses on committee facilitation, event planning, and supporting impact tracking efforts.
Leslie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. She is fluent in Spanish and Hebrew and has conversational knowledge of French and Arabic.
Joanna Donohoe, Curriculum Developer
Joanna is a founding partner with Seven Sisters Community Development Group. She has over 25 years of experience working with nonprofits, housing authorities, and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), serving low-income and Native communities. She specializes in organizational development, coalition building, advocacy, homeownership strategies, capitalization and fundraising, private sector partnership building, and strategic planning. She began her career working on public policy issues in Washington, DC, where she was an attorney at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a legislative representative for a national banking trade association. She also worked as a program director for First Nations Oweesta Corporation, a national Native community development financial institution, and a fellow for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Southwest Office of Native American Programs in New Mexico.
Joanna earned a Bachelor of Arts in American Government from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, and a Juris Doctor from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She resides in Jupiter, FL, with her husband and two children.
Vickie Oldman-John, Curriculum Developer
A founding partner and co-manager of Seven Sisters Community Development Group, Vickie specializes in culturally relevant approaches to organizational development. With expertise in strategic planning, board development, leadership training, team building, asset building, and curriculum development, Vickie works with urban and rural communities. She is recognized nationally as a skilled facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker. Vickie is a certified trainer and facilitator for the Institute of Cultural Affairs’ ToP Strategic Planning, True Colors, Nonprofit Management, Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families, and the Grove Team Performance Model.
Vickie has more than 18 years of consulting and community experience. She has been a lead trainer and technical assistance provider in various capacity building initiatives funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. She is also a coach for YouthBuild USA sites nationally. She conducts national training sessions on financial coaching for practitioners and other trainers. She currently sits on the Boards of Rural Community Assistance Corporation Board, Junior Achievement NM’s Native Initiative, and is an advisory member for Partnerships with Native American Leadership Program. She has been recognized for her achievements with numerous awards from the National Association of Social Workers, including the “2006 President’s Award,” the “2004 Women of Vision Award,” “2003 Social Worker of the Year Award, and “2015 Distinguished NMHU Alumna.”
Vickie has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Community Planning and Administration from New Mexico Highlands University. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Arizona State University. She is an enrolled member of the Navajo tribe, and her clans are Black Streak of the Forest People, Mud People, One Who Walks Around People, and Folding Arm People.
Barbara Roloff, Curriculum Developer
Barbara Ku`ulei is a partner with Seven Sisters Community Development Group, with more than 30 years of experience that includes working for city and tribal government, nonprofit agencies, universities, and private enterprise. Barbara also owns multiple small businesses along with her spouse. Mainly, Barbara’s passion is to help individuals work on financial independence and pursue their personal goals. She enjoys working with communities near and far on community development endeavors.
Barbara has worked as a former tribal housing director and can relate to the multidimensional demands that organizations face. She understands the challenges organizations are facing, because she lives it.
She enjoys working with communities to explore ways to create strategic directions and sustainable approaches. More than just a consultant, she wants to be a part of the journey to help individuals and organizations succeed.
Barbara holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Hawaii and a Bachelor of Science in Business: Managerial Leadership from Northwest Christian College in collaboration with the University of Oregon. Barbara has received numerous certifications and program awards throughout her career. She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised by a loving family from Oregon.
Natasha Shulman, Curriculum Developer
A principal at Seven Sisters Community Development Group, Natasha has worked actively in the economic development arena for more than 10 years. She specializes in systemic and strategic analysis, curricula development, project management, emerging markets development, and training. She has authored several financial education and training curricula to build skills within Native and other ethnic communities. These include Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families and Reaching the Immigrant Market: Creating Homeownership Opportunities for New Americans. Prior to consulting, Natasha worked for First Nations Development Institute as Associate Director of Training and Development. She was also a Vice President with Bank of America and managed the rollout of the new Bank of America brand across 36 countries. While at Bank of America, Natasha managed emerging market development across the Northwest and designed several system-wide initiatives, such as the Language Certification Program, diversity training, and the Bank of America Mentoring Program. Natasha began her career by studying microfinance in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Chicago. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College with a focus on urban economic development.
Marlena Myles, Illustrator
Marlena (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee Creek) is an award-winning graphic designer and fine artist. Marlena specializes in vector illustrations and portrait art. Her experience includes working in galleries, schools, and museums. She received first place at the 2017 Native POP: People of the Plains celebration in the Two-Dimension Division.
Heidi Cuny, Curriculum Designer
With 20 years of experience in the marketing and communications field, Heidi has a successful track record of inspiring success in a range of organizations, from small businesses and nonprofits to large corporations. She specializes in developing and implementing customized marketing and communications tools – from brochures and websites to market analyses and press releases – in order for her clients to reach their desired business objectives.
Heidi specializes in the Native community and economic development field and has provided customized services to several Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs), tribes, and other nonprofit organizations to help them build their internal marketing capacity. She has also presented at various regional and national trainings on the topics of marketing and communications.
Heidi grew up in a small coastal farming and fishing community 20 miles south of San Francisco, California. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from California State University, Chico, and spent the first half of her career working in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. During that time, she worked with several well-known companies, such as Viking Freight (now FedEx Freight) and Hathaway Dinwiddie, the firm that built the TransAmerica Pyramid in San Francisco. In 2009, she moved to South Dakota, where she started working in the Native community and economic development field. In 2010, she launched Cuny Communications, a firm offering a wide range of marketing and communications services. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and two children, and enjoys the outdoors in her spare time.