photos by Mel Ponder

2017-2018 Legacy of Leadership Cohort

Misha Averill, Navajo

Although raised in the Pacific Northwest, Misha Averill is an enrolled member of Navajo Nation. Her Elders remained true to their cultures, traditions, and language. With grandparents that carry Navajo (Diné), Japanese, and English ancestry, she embraced all that gave life to her identity. Misha was taught to be open-minded and understanding of other's differences. With a passion for traveling and learning, she embraces other’s teachings and values from many cultures. 


A graduate of the University of Washington, Misha spent much of her time studying International Studies with a focus in American Indian Studies. Her goal was to attend law school and help give back to Native communities through legal assistance. However, like the current in the ocean, Misha has changed courses, and presently works in commercial real estate as an assistant to the brokerage team in asset and property management.

In her free time, Misha loves to train for inline speed skating, read, and try new restaurants and foods. Grateful for her loving family, Misha has been able to travel abroad to Europe, Asia, and South America. 

Alicia Durkin, Lower Brule Sioux

Alicia is a member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. In June 2015, Alicia graduated from the University of Washington’s Master of Social Work program. Before moving to Seattle, she attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado where she received her undergraduate degree in Psychology. She currently works for the Cowlitz Tribal Health program as a Mental Health Therapist. Alicia grew up in Duluth Minnesota, while her parents worked on their social work degrees. She has always had a passion for social justice and serving under-privileged communities.

Tleena Ives, Port Gamble S'Klallam

Tleena carries the ancestral names of Kwewatanat and HaʔhaʔMu and is an enrolled member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. She worked for her people as the Together for Children Project Manager and now serves many tribes in Washington State as the Tribal Liaison for the Department of Early Learning. She has diverse work experience, serving in education, health, fitness and cultural instruction. She has also spent time working within her Tribe in the fields of curriculum development, tribal law, social work and parent advocacy. Tleena is the author of taʔt̕ə́wəsnaʔ “Star” - a S'Klallam children’s book expressing the wishes and dreams for our children through an environmental health perspective.


Tleena has been trained as a trainer in the following areas that support early learning: Fatherhood/ Motherhood is Sacred facilitator, a Family Literacy Consultant with the National Head Start Family Literacy Center, Physical Activity Kit in Indian Country (IHS), Digital Storytelling (IHS), and My Amazing Body an Indian Health Service Head Start Cultural Nutrition curriculum. Recently Tleena participated in the Brazelton Touchpoints American Indian Early Childhood Community Leadership Program and she is a graduate of the 2015-2016 Leadership Kitsap class. Currently Tleena is a student at the University of Washington participating in the Native Education Certificate program.


Tleena demonstrates leadership with her actions as a healthy role model and spends much of her free time instructing others in their fitness. As former Miss Indian USA, her motto was “You will only fail if you fail to try!” In her spare time, she trains for Ironman Triathlons, works part-time for the Seahawks, runs her own fitness business and finds joy in witnessing her four children grow into the dreamers and leaders of her Tribe’s future.


Tleena Ives earned her bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Education from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  She is also a recipient of the 2016 “Woman of Achievement” award from the YWCA Kitsap County.  

Chelsea Jones, Suquamish

Chelsea Jones is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe and is a descendant of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Nooksack Tribe, and the Shxwha:y band of British Columbia. Chelsea is also of Filipino heritage. Recently she is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a degree in Native American Studies, a concentration in Building Native Nations, and a minor in Criminology. She is a contributing member of her community and was raised in the traditional Suquamish ways of life, which is something she holds very close to her.


At the University of New Mexico, Chelsea was the President of the Alpha Pi Omega Sorority. The sorority is the first and only Native American Sorority in the nation. During her time as president she help her sorority earn the “Most Improved GPA 2016-2017” and a “4 Star Rating” for the University of New Mexico's Greek Life Office. She assisted in planning many events with other student organizations on campus to create a sense of community and provide community outreach. Chelsea was also a mentor for American Indian Student Services. During her time away from studying, Chelsea likes to paddle in the canoe, participate in song and dance, weave cedar and wool, sew, and work with youth.


Her main goal is to pursue Law School to continue to support her community and other Native communities through her education. She believes that she can be the bridge between the legal languages of the treaties and the best interest of the communities that she will represent.

Gail Morris, NuuChahNulth

I am NuuChahNulth First Nations, Ahousat Band, from the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC. My canoe family is the HuuPahQuiNum, it means treasure of our Chiefs, and I have been traveling the traditional waters of my ancestors for 14 years with my family. Tribal Journeys, potlatching, and being able to go home to be with my relatives is what grounds me. I started my teaching career in the Edmonds School District, then taught at Muckleshoot Tribal School, Muckleshoot Tribal College, and now in Seattle Public Schools my goal is to finish my Leadership Endorsement. I have two daughters, one granddaughter, and two grandsons.  

Shanoa Pinkham, Yakama

Shanoa Pinkham is enrolled in the Yakama Nation and is of Southern Cheyenne descent. Her parents are Glen and Yvette Pinkham. She grew up on the Yakama Indian Reservation and in Seattle.  She double-majored with a B.A. degree in Communication and American Indian Studies from the University of Washington in 2013. While a junior in college she received double ambassadorships by serving her Tribe as Miss Yakama Nation 2011-2012 and with a national title as Miss Indian Nations XIX. While in high school through the present, she has tirelessly volunteered to organize youth workshops and outreach through the Urban Native Education Alliance, as an alumni performer with Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theater, and as a Student Board Member of Longhouse Media. After college she was a Project Assistant at the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle. Shanoa recently returned from her mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint where she demonstrated compassion, dedication, and selfless service. Since high school, she has produced a few films and is passionate in using media to tell Indigenous stories.  

Elizabeth Rideau, Haida

I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington by my mother who is Haida from Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, and my father who is a mixed 3rd generation Filipino American. As an urban Native, I spent the school year in a multi-racial/multi-cultural city and then summers in our small village of Hydaburg where my grandmother grew up and where much of my family lives to this day. Identity was tricky for me as a youth but I have managed to find strength and pride in balancing urban street smarts with a village girl toughness.


I currently work as a Personnel Manager for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in their tribal behavioral health clinic in Tukwila. Working in the Native mental health field I have witnessed firsthand the resiliency of Native people of all ages, tribes and backgrounds as they heal generational trauma, strengthen their families, and create community.

Maggie McCarty Sanders, Makah

Maggie McCarty Sanders is a direct descendent of the last whale hunter of the Makah nation. She received her master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Tribal Administration. For the past five years, her work has been with the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s Natural Resources Department, where she works with tribal colleges and universities on climate change, its impact on treaty trust resources, and engaging tribal communities to become resilient in the face of climate change.

Adriel Searcy, Seminole

Adopted by David and Donna Foxley as a baby, Adriel was born and raised in Auburn, where she was the youngest child in the family, with an older brother and sister who adored her. Her biological parents were Elizabeth Mink (Jewish/Irish/German), and Otha McConnell (African-American/Seminole). Adriel was a good student, active volunteer and an accomplished athlete which helped her earn a full ride softball scholarship in 2003 to attend Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). During her time at EKU she had her beautiful daughter Jael. Adriel was determined to stay and complete her education. She obtained a Bachelors in Science in Criminal Justice in 2007 and a Masters in Physical Education in 2009 all while playing softball, attending classes, and raising her daughter.


After completing her degrees, she moved back to her hometown and was immediately hired as Truancy Officer at Muckleshoot Tribal School. Adriel then switched positions to become the Community Advocate at the Drop-in Center. During this time, her biological sister Sarah got in contact with her and Adriel found out more about her cultural heritage. Significantly, her biological father was Seminole. Looking for advancements in her career in 2013, she went to work for Seattle Public Schools (SPS) as a Truancy Specialist at Aki Kurose Middle School and then was hired as the Native American Family Support Worker. Adriel has fostered three teenage siblings, which was a humbling and wonderful experience. Adriel has been an advocate and public speaker for survivors of sexual assault and continues to work on behalf of those who have no voice.


Adriel continues to coach middle school volleyball as she has for several years and is currently serving as a Member at Large for Paraprofessional Department Executive Board for Seattle Education Association. Adriel is currently working on her second master's in Counseling at Grand Canyon University (anticipated graduation February 2019) and plans to open up her own private counseling practice, foster children again with her husband Richard, and create her own nonprofit working with the Native American community and other communities of color. It is her desire to build bridges between all communities for the sake of Mother Earth, children, families, Elders, and Creator. 

Asia Tail, Cherokee

Asia Tail is from Tacoma, Washington where she is currently based. Asia attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York on a four-year full-tuition scholarship and graduated with a BFA and the Brandon Burns Stewart Memorial Prize for Excellence in Painting in 2014. Her art making practice focuses on oil painting and drawing. She was an Artist Trust GAP Grant recipient and a Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Art Award nominee in 2015. Her work has recently been featured in the internationally distributed magazine New American Paintings, in NW Art Now @ TAM (formerly the Northwest Biennial), and in the exhibition Quota at SOIL Gallery in Seattle.


As an extension of her art making, Asia also creatively curates special projects and art exhibitions, with an emphasis on empowering Indigenous artists. In 2015, she created the Contemporary Native Voices project for Tacoma Art Museum, interviewing over 20 individuals on Native American representation in art, and integrating Native voices into the museum’s galleries through wall text, interactive activities, and commissioned performances. In 2016, she independently curated her first exhibition, Protect the Sacred at Spaceworks Gallery in Tacoma, which brought together work from 26 Native American artists and raised funds to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline construction in North Dakota.


Asia currently works as the Arts Program Coordinator for the City of Tacoma's Office of Arts and Cultural Vitality, and as a freelance consultant on advisory committees and selection panels for local arts organizations including Seattle Art Museum, Artist Trust, Pratt Fine Arts, 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and others.


Asia is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and a proud member of the Urban Native community in the Pacific Northwest.

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