Marie Sweet Martinez
2016 NISN Fellow, Taos, NM

My name is Marie Sweet Martinez is from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. I live in Taos Pueblo with my husband, Martin Martinez. I have four lovely children and five wonderful grandchildren. I have been in Education since 1981 when I got my first teaching position at Taos Day School. I have also received my Masters in Educational Leadership from New Mexico State University. I continue to teach at Taos Day School as the first Grade Teacher and I also teach Native Science at UNM-Taos in Taos, NM. This year will mark 36 years of my life in Education. I enjoy teaching children of all ages and will continue to do my best in helping all people with my work as an Educator, Teacher, Mother, Grandmother, and any other role that is assigned to me in my career and my life. 


Brett Stidham
2016 NISN Fellow, Ardmore, OK

Brett Stidham hales from Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he spent his entire K-12, including a year as a student at the Chichasaw Nation Headstart. Following graduation from high school, Brett attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied Human Resources Management. During his junior year, he became aware of and interested in a program called Teach For America. Brett had served as a math tutor, since he was an 8th grader, and knew the classroom was the place for him to serve. As an educator in Washington, D.C., Brett saw many of the same inequities manifest as he did in his own home community: housing insecurities, food desert, and educational inequity along lines of race, class, and socio-economic status. In 2014, Brett moved home to Admore to being working toward creating a community-led movement by accepting a math teaching post at the high school where he was once a student. He saw the inequities persisted, despite the intervening seven years. The following summer, Brett completed his masters in education leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, which propelled him to an assistant principalship in the fall of 2015. Brett lives in Ardmore, Oklahoma, near his parents, sister, and two nieces, English Bulldog Bud, and Boston Terrier Annabelle. He is also an avid patio enthusiast and recreational swimmer. 


Ventura Lovato

2016 NISN Fellow, Santo Domingo, NM

Ventura Lovato, a member of the Santo Domingo Pueblo is a senior program manager for the Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health Program. Ventura has been instrumental in developing state of the art evidence-based health promotion programs that are culturally sensitive to her community and address the numerous health disparities experienced by families. Ventura has initiated several children, youth and elder focused programs in the past few years. She hopes to take it to ‘another level’ by learning best practices and sharing what she has learned through her experiences by developing a charter school in her Pueblo community.


Gwen Torivio
2015 NISN Fellow, Acoma, NM

My Acoma name given to me by my great-grandfather is Ga-ti-ya-da-mu, which means Morning glory. My mother clan is Zuni Eagle and I am a child of the Yellow Corn clan. My English name is Gweneth Torivio aka Gwen (which I prefer). I was born in the home of my grandparents located in the Acomita village, and during my early years I resided in Acoma. Upon entering first grade my family moved to Albuquerque where I attended school. Mid-way through my second grade year we moved to Washington D.C. At the end of my second grade year we travelled to the west coast and visited many native communities located along the west coast of the United States. By the end of that summer we returned to Acoma where I have resided since. I graduated from Laguna Acoma high school and attended UNM where I attained a bachelors’ degree in elementary education. I taught in many of the local schools in the surrounding communities and taught for 15 years at the Acoma BIE School. I attained a master’s degree in Education Administration and Instructional Leadership from the New Mexico Highlands University. In the administrative capacity I served as the Principal at the Isleta BIE School and the Indian Education Coordinator for the Grants Cibola School district. I have served on many education committees for my tribe and currently serve as the Vice President for the Acoma Board of Education. My husband and I have two beautiful daughters. My oldest daughter has given us three awesome grandchildren which range in age from 11, 8 and 1. My family is involved in the cultural traditions of our tribe which have been an integral part of our family traditions. We are also a very active family and make physical activity a daily part of lives.


Joey Martin
2015 NISN Fellow, Acoma, NM

Guwadzii houba my name is Joseph B. Martin and I am from the Pueblo of Acoma. I've been in education for over 9 years. I've worked in various levels in education from Head Start to teaching at the college level. My previous experience was teaching Kindergarten and first grade with the Grants/Cibola County School district. I currently sit on the Board of Education for the Pueblo of Acoma. I am excited to be apart of the NISN fellowship and the opportunity it will provide to help my community and change the quality of education for the children. I am excited to be apart of this wonderful community and look forward to working with the NISN family.


Tracey Cordero
2015 NISN Fellow, Cochiti, NM

Tracey is from Pueblo de Cochiti.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico in Psychology.  She has worked in Cochiti Pueblo Tribal Government in many capacities.  Tracey enjoys sports activities, reading, and family events.  She is a proud mother of Savannah and is very culturally active in the community. 
“These children are our future, being a part of KCLC is my contribution to the wellbeing of our future”


Zane Rosette
2015 NISN Fellow, NACA Elementary, Albuquerque, NM

Hello, my name is Zane Rosette, I am Chippewa and Cree from the Rocky Boy Reservation in Northern Montana.  I earned my Bachelor's Degree (Elementary Education) and Master's Degree (Curriculum and Instruction) from the University of Montana (GO GRIZ!).  In 2014, I earned my Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico, with the hopes of one day leading a school with a large population of Native American students.  Early in my teaching career I taught 3rd Grade students in Phoenix, AZ and I taught 2nd Grade students in my hometown of Box Elder, MT.   In 2011, my family and I made the journey to Albuquerque, NM to work at the Native American Community Academy, where I was honored to serve in a Dean of Students role for 4 years. This year, I will be focusing my efforts on the creation of NACA Elementary.  NACA Elementary is definitely needed in Albuquerque and its creation will only enrich our students and families educational experiences.  We want to be able to provide our elementary students with a safe and fun place to learn that respects and honors who they are, and ultimately prepares them for future academic rigors.   

My wife, Sophia, and I have three kids;  Rebecca, Aidan, and Claire.  We are active in the Albuquerque youth sports scene and are usually at a baseball, football, or basketball game on the weekends.  Our family definitely loves exploring New Mexico's hidden treasures and we appreciate the historical and cultural aspects of the state. 


Mike Dabrieo
2014 NISN Fellow, Co-Organizer for BIE to Grant school transition, Kha-p'o Academy, Santa Clara, NM

Michael Dabrieo is from Sanford, Maine, where he grew up with his five older brothers and sisters. After graduating from the University of Maine, he worked as a journalist and community organizer. Later, Michael joined Teach for America and taught seventh and eighth grade at Tohaali Community School, located just south of Shiprock on the Navajo Reservation. He then went on to work at thread, a Child Care Resource and Referral Network, in Anchorage, Alaska as the organization’s Program Coordinator. He completed his Master’s degree in Education at Harvard University in 2014, and also became a Fellow at the NACA-Inspired Schools Network. Michael believes schools should be open and responsive to their communities, and hopes to assist in the creation of a school that is sensitive to the regional and cultural identities of Native youth. After working with the Santa Clara Pueblo to transition their Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school to a Tribally-controlled school, Kha'p'o Community School, focused on academic success, language, physical and emotional wellness, and cultural values, he became principal in 2016. 


Lane Towery
2014 NISN Fellow and Co-Founder, [pending] Six Directions Indigenous School, Gallup, NM

Lane Towery was born in Denver, Colorado and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A graduate of Duke University, he moved to Gallup, New Mexico in 2010 to teach third and fifth grades at Mariano Lake Community School of the Navajo Nation, located in northwest New Mexico. In Lane’s next position, he coached teachers in Teach For America’s program across Indian Country in New Mexico from Shiprock to Zuni and from Gallup to Pueblo Pintado. Lane has worked in schools across many districts and agencies providing education in reservation communities. Lane completed Teach for America’s Rural School Leadership Academy fellowship in 2014, became a NACA-Inspired Schools Fellow the same year, and earned a Master’s degree in Education from the University of New Mexico in 2015. Fueled by his experiences in the classroom and in many schools across the reservation, Lane believes deeply that schools are the most effective unit of change, able to both provide an excellent educational experience and strengthen the community around it. Lane is looking forward to opening Six Directions Indigenous School in the Fall of 2016.


Kayla Begay
2013 NISN Fellow, Co-Founder, DEAP, Navajo, NM

Kayla Begay is an emerging leader and Diné woman from the community of Navajo, New Mexico. She is Tódích’íi’nii born for Táchii’nii. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Education from Occidental College and is a current Master of Arts in Elementary Education candidate at the University of New Mexico. As a native of Navajo, Kayla returned to fulfill the desire of the Diné Nation’s wish that Navajo students leave to receive an education and then return to make their communities better. Kayla has taught at Navajo Elementary, a school she attended as a youth. Her experiences have enabled her to be a role model for her students, staff, and community members in her actions and mindset of hope, strength, perseverance, and belief that anything is possible. In the classroom, Kayla is able to build and maintain strong relationships with her students and their families and convey her love and belief in their ability to succeed, in spite of huge obstacles against them. Her work within her community and partnership with NACA to create a charter school based in the community vision speaks volumes to her understanding and deep belief that all students deserve an education that allows them to be firm in their identities and reclaim their rights as Native people on a sovereign land. In addition to being a NACA-Inspired Schools Network Fellow, Kayla was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellow, Teach For America Alumna, and serves on the Red Lake-Navajo Community Action Group Council.  She and co-founder, Prestene Garnenez opened the doors of Dził Ditł'ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance - DEAP, in the 2015-2016 school year. 


Leroy "Buster" Silva
2010 Fellow, Native American Community Academy, Dean-UNM

Leroy “Buster” Silva is from the Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico. He received his Associates and Bachelor’s degrees from Haskell Indian-Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. While at Haskell, he played on the men’s basketball team and was the strength and conditioning coach for the women’s volleyball team. Mr. Silva has been teaching Personal Wellness since NACA’s opening day in 2006. With a back ground in sports and fitness, Silva uses his experiences to create a unique curriculum for the students at NACA. “Healthy Minds and Bodies, create Healthy Communities.”

Buster is from the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. He received his Associate degree in Health, Physical Education and Athletics, and Bachelor degree in American Indian Studies from Haskell Indian-Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Leroy has been teaching Personal Wellness since NACA’s opening day in 2006. With a background in sports and fitness, he has used his experiences to create a unique wellness curriculum for the students at NACA. His vision for the education of Native American students is to embody and practice the values of traditional ways of life, while excelling in the teachings of modern education. Following the fellowship, he plans to impact his home community through a sustainable and progressive health and wellness movement, and work with the tribal Department of Education to help build a strong and relevant curriculum to keep students connected with their community while planning a college path.


Gavin Sosa
2009 NISN Fellow, Director of Operations and Community Organizing,  Dream Diné, Shiprock, NM

Gavin Sosa, a former teacher on the Navajo Nation and a Master’s graduate of the Stanford College of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies program, was a Native American Community Academy (NACA) Leadership Fellow from 2010-2011. Gavin held over 20 meetings with local educators and elders, passionate families and youth, and grassroots community leaders. The local community has designed Dream Diné as a dual-language elementary school built around the Navajo culture and living/learning process. The school implements an integrative, active curriculum that draws the school and community together as a holistic learning system. Dream Diné opened in the 2014-15 academic year and continues to operate with kindergarten through second grade classes. 


Valerie Siow


2010 Fellow, 6th GradeTeacher, Native Literature, Native American Community Academy

Valerie is from the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. She received a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies with a Native American Studies Minor from Stanford University, and a Master degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico. Valerie has been teaching for eight years. She chose to enter the NACA Fellowship because it was an opportunity to apply her knowledge and experience as an educator outside of the classroom. She had the opportunity to take on leadership positions at the school, while also engaging with the larger community towards the establishment of a K-5 educational program for NACA.  Valerie is now on the Pueblo of Laguna’s Education Task Force, which is critically looking at ways to improve the pueblo’s education system so that high learning expectations are upheld. She is also an instructor in the GENAC partnership with CNM. Her aim is that her work with the tribe and GENAC will lead to better educational outcomes for Native students.