Making Matriarchs Panel

A panel discussion about Indigenous Values-Based Leadership


Tuesday, March 16th | 7:00pM CT

Join leading Native women who are creating positive change for a lively discussion on the importance of female leadership and the influence of matriarchy. Panelists will talk about the work they do for social change and education, and how they utilize the teachings of the Ambassadors Program and their “Medicine” (personal strengths/talents) for the good of their communities and humanity.

Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) launched the Ambassadors Program in 1993 to strengthen the ability of Native leaders to improve the wellbeing and growth of their communities. As the only national Indigenous values-based leadership “training,” Ambassadors are encouraged to weave traditional tribal values in a contemporary reality in order to promote Indigenous worldviews, affect positive social change, and advance human rights.

Meet the Panel


Laura L. Harris (Comanche)

Executive Director and CEO Americans for Indian Opportunity

Laura Harris, enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation, has led the national nonprofit advocacy organization Americans for Indian Opportunity for 20 years where she coordinates an international network of Indigenous leaders and organizations. She is a trained  and experienced facilitator in consensus-building community engagement. 


Janeen Comenote (Quinault/Hesquiaht/Oglala)

Executive Director of National Urban Indian Family Coalition

Janeen Comenote lives in Seattle, Washington and is an enrolled member of the Quinault Indian Nation.  Comenote is the founding Executive Director of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC). The NUIFC is a national coalition representing 45 urban Indian centers in 32 cities and more than two million Native Americans living away from their traditional land base.


Brittany Schulman (Waccamaw Siouan)

Director of Leadership Initiatives Americans for Indian Opportunity

Brittany Schulman (Waccamaw Siouan) grew up in rural North Carolina. As an advocate, Brittany has served in many leadership roles to ensure that Native Americans and Indigenous values are not only included but also at the forefront. Brittany is a former high school English teacher and incorporated her Waccamaw Siouan values in the classroom and was a leader in her department, implementing Indigenous philosophies.


Lindsay Early (Comanche)

Deputy Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association

Lindsay Early is the Deputy Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)  in Portland, Oregon.  She is a proud enrolled member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. Lindsay is a Gates Millennium Scholar and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s Indigenous Peoples Law program. 


Francene Blythe-Lewis (Diné, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Eastern Cherokee)

Executive Director of Vision Maker Media

Francene Blythe-Lewis is the Executive Director of Vision Maker Media, and recently led programmatic strategic planning and grant-making opportunities as the Director of Programs at the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) from 2015-2020. There, she fostered and implemented successful grant programs for individual artists, community artist mentorships and community projects that centered around social issues and partnerships in and around Native communities.

Walt Pourier

Vice Chair

Walt is Oglala Lakota and created the logo for Urban Rez. He is Creative Director, owner of Nakota Designs Advertising Designs and Graphics. Executive Director of the Stronghold Society nonprofit dedicated to instilling hope and supporting youth movements through Live Life Call To Action Campaigns.


Project Coordinator​

(Hataža Mani Winga)​

"Cinema Aficionado"

Role: Jordana is excited to engage with different Native/Indigenous communities. Her passion for working with youth will help develop the Native Youth Media Project. She will also assist with the Creative Shorts Fellowship (CSF) to help organize deliverables for filmmakers.