Member Education Sessions: Boarding School Reconciliation and Philanthropy

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Member Education Sessions: Boarding School Reconciliation and Philanthropy

September 29 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT

Virtual Event Virtual Event

Live Broadcast: Thursday, September 29
10 am PT / 11 am MT / 1 pm ET

Join our moderator, Stephine “Steph” Poston (Pueblo of Sandia) and three strategic change makers, Deborah Parker (Tulalip/Yaqui/Apache), Samuel B. Torres (Mexica/Nahua), and Winoka Yepa (Diné), as we discuss how philanthropy can uplift and support our relatives working and living in these spaces.

For nearly two centuries, the United States implemented policies that forcibly removed Native American children from their families and tribes, placing them in Indian boarding schools for the purpose of cultural assimilation. The intergenerational trauma and harm caused by this practice is still fresh for survivors and their families, and the effects are directly tied to countless issues across Indian Country today. These experiences are not in the distant past;  in fact, these schools only began to close after the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, with some continuing to operate into the 1990s.

Philanthropy plays an essential part in healing work and reconciliation, especially considering the far-reaching effects of Indian boarding schools. Many philanthropic institutions have come to understand that supporting Indigenous peoples through reconciliation requires examining funding policies, procedures, and priorities. As a result, philanthropy is building strong relationships that are uplifting Native American peoples and communities as they revitalize and perpetuate their cultures through traditional practices, programming, partnership, activism, and more. 

While there’s no undoing the trauma that boarding schools brought, we can come together to understand it, address it, and help each other heal. 

About the Series: 

Native Americans in Philanthropy welcomes you to engage in a gathering of nonprofits, philanthropy, emerging leaders and Native communities for discussions and collaborative action for building philanthropy rooted in Native traditions and values.

All four 2022 sessions are open to the public. In 2023, Member Education Sessions will be a benefit of our NAP Memberships. For more information on NAP Memberships, please email Rod Jacobs at [email protected]

Our curated education sessions of virtual conversations, panels, and speakers represent the diversity of Indian Country and the experiences of Indigenous Peoples in America. These sessions are designed for NAP members working in philanthropy and will focus on how philanthropy can operate differently to center Indigenous perspectives and values.

Through the curation of these sessions, NAP is passing the mic to individuals, Tribes, and Native nonprofits who are experts in their respective fields. This curated platform will foster an informed membership that will lead the shifting of the philanthropic sector in deeper, more impactful ways that serve the people, communities, and causes they care about.



DEBORAH PARKER (Tulalip/Yaqui/Apache)(she/her)

CEO, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Deborah Parker “tsicyaltsa” (she/her) is a well-respected mother, leader, and citizen of the Tulalip Tribes. She is also of Yaqui and Apache descent on her mother’s side. She joined NABS as the Director of Policy and Advocacy in May of 2021. Prior to her role as Director, she helped coordinate and host our 2019 2nd Annual Conference: Honoring Native Survivance in Tulalip, WA. Motivated to help tribal elders during the pandemic, Deborah, along with several volunteers, organized the “We Love You” Elders Care packages for U.S. boarding school survivors with the goal of delivering 1,000 packages on behalf of NABS. Her lifelong goal has been to honor and uplift her Indigenous way of life. She comes with over 25 years of national and international legislative, policy and advocacy experience. Deborah’s previous roles include: the TWN Executive Director of Residential School Healing in British Columbia, Canada; Government Affairs Policy Analyst for the Tulalip Tribes; Senior Policy Advisor at Pipestem Law, and Director of Equity, Diversity & Indigenous education in the Marysville school district. Deborah was also instrumental in passing state and federal legislation including the Violence Against Women Act passed in 2013. She is a Board Member for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and a frequent keynote speaker on the restoration of tribal law and sovereignty, education, safety for Indigenous Nations and environmental protections. Her work has been recognized and acknowledged across the globe notably in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

DR. SAMUEL TORRES, Ed.D. (Mexica/Nahua)(he/him)

Deputy CEO, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Dr. Samuel Torres (he/him) is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and has been a fundamental part of the team since 2019. Dr. Torres first joined NABS as the Director of Research and Programs where his contributions have included leading research teams through several projects such as the Indian Child Removal Study with the First Nations Repatriation Institute and the University of Minnesota, as well as the development of Indian boarding school research and coordinating with the US Department of the Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. 

Samuel has a doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University and his work encompasses the impacts of colonization on historical and contemporary education methods, particularly the legacy of boarding schools. With his extensive experience as a researcher, writer, educator, and leader, Dr. Torres holds a deep passion for decolonizing fixed knowledge systems, centering ancestral knowledge and histories, and working in community to promote Indigenous futures. A bicultural human being, Dr. Torres is Mexica/Nahua on his father’s side, and Irish/Scottish from his mother. In addition to actively learning and practicing Nahua language, traditions, and ceremony, he and his family belong to the Mexica kinship community, Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

WINOKA YEPA, M.A. (Diné)(she/her/asdzaan)

Data & Research Associate, Native Americans in Philanthropy 

Winoka Yepa (she/her/asdzaan), is Diné originally from Shiprock, New Mexico, which is located on the Navajo Nation, also known as Dinétah. Yepa brings a wealth of experience from the arts, museum, and education fields. Most recently, Yepa was the Senior Manager of Museum Education at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. As a part of her role, Yepa re-established and developed the museum’s education program, re-designed the museum’s artist residency and mural program, developed curriculum centered in decolonial methodologies, and created more community-centered programming. 

Yepa was also a graduate researcher for the University of New Mexico, in which she collaborated with the University of California- Los Angeles and the University of Arizona to develop a national study of Indigenous language immersion programs that identified Native communities’ efforts to strengthen their language education through immersion teaching methods. Yepa assisted in the development of a national database of Indigenous language immersion programs in the United States with the objective to support education practices for Native faculty and students. As a part of this study, Yepa co-authored an article that explores relationality and relational accountability in Indigenous education, contextualizing these processes within a current U.S.-wide study of Indigenous-language immersion (ILI) schooling.

Yepa is also a doctoral candidate in education at the University of New Mexico, in which her dissertation focuses on the development of a pilot program titled “The Reflection Project: A Study on Indigenous Identity and Storywork,” which aims to identify alternative and new representations of Indigenous identity from a decolonial framework, with emphasis on Indigenous epistemologies and storytelling.


President & CEO, Poston & Associates, LLC

“Steph” was born and raised on the Sandia Pueblo Indian Reservation. She worked for her tribe for eleven years before launching Poston & Associates, a full-service communications firm.

Steph’s expertise includes strategic facilitation, capacity building training, leadership development, strategic communication and event planning. She has worked with numerous tribes and tribal entities in New Mexico and throughout Indian Country on public relations and marketing campaigns, sacred site protection, voter empowerment, water rights, tribal policy development, economic development, education and healthcare. 

She is a co-founder of Native Women Lead and is the current Chairwoman of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts that hosts Indian Market. 


September 29
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT
Event Category: