NIHB Board of Directors

Cathy Abramson - Saulte Ste. Marie Chippewa Indians
NIHB Board Chairperson and Bemidji Area Representative
Elected Councilwoman, Sault Ste. Marie Tribes Board of Directors – Board Member & Treasurer

Cathy Abramson represents the Bemidji area Tribes (Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota) on the National Indian Health Board and serves as the board Chairperson. Cathy also serves on the Human Service Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. She was elected to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe Board of Directors in 1996 representing Unit 1. She has been serving as a board member since that time, and was re-elected for a fifth term in the summer of 2012; she presently serves as Secretary. Cathy’s Spirit Name is Wabanung Quay. She is a member of the Wolf clan. She resides in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan – Bawehting. Cathy is actively involved with United Tribes of Michigan and the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST). She also serves on the Tribes Traditional Living and Foods Program Planning Committee, and participates in the Sault Ste. Marie Culture Committee, Higher Education Committee, Conservation Committee, and has served as an advisor for the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Youth Council. Cathy states, “The greatest gift that the Creator has given me is my family. I have been married for 30 years to Tony Abramson and we have 3 beautiful children -- Lisa, Laura and Tony, Jr. We have 6 six beautiful granddaughters, and a beautiful grandson, who are the absolute joys of my life.” Cathy loves to hunt, fish and gather the indigenous foods of her area, and enjoys camping, hiking, traveling and family gatherings.

L. Jace Killsback - Northern Cheyenne Tribe
NIHB Vice Chairman and Billings Area Representative
Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council Member – Busby District

L. Jace Killsback, “Voaxaa’e Nestoohe” (Screaming Eagle) is from Busby, Montana and is a direct descendant of Chief Dull Knife. Mr. Killsback is currently serving his third term as a councilman for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and is the Billings Area Representative for the NIHB Board of Directors. In 2002, Mr. Killsback received his Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Native American studies with a minor in environmental science. While pursuing his higher education in the Bay Area, L. Jace Killsback first became involved in health care issues as a board member of the Native American Health Centers of Oakland and San Francisco. Once home on the reservation and as an elected Tribal official, Mr. Killsback was appointed as his Tribe’s delegate for the Montana & Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council (MT/WY-TLC) and the Council of Large Land-Based Tribes (CLLBT). Mr. Killsback was the former Treasurer of the CLLBT and the past Chairman of the MT/WY-TLC and is current Chairman of the Committee on Health. Mr. Killsback has facilitated Tribal consultations with SAMHSA, made presentations on suicide prevention, and testified at a senate field hearing on Indian health care. Mr. Killsback has served as the Billings Area Representative for the Direct Service Tribes Advisory Committee, IHS HP/DP Policy Advisory Committee, Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and was a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee now serving as an alternate.

H. Sally Smith - Yup’ik Eskimo
NIHB Secretary and Alaska Area Representative
Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation – Board of Directors Chair

H. Sally Smith served as the Chairperson for the National Indian Health Board’s (NIHB) Board of Directors from December 1999 until January 2009. Currently, Ms. Smith is the Alaska Area Representative to the NIHB Board and board Secretary. Ms. Smith also serves on Health Research Advisory Committee, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention State Territorial Local and Tribal Committee, and the Indian Health Service National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup. Ms. Smith also serves on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Tribal Technical Advisory Group and chairs NIHB’s Medicare, Medicaid and Health Reform Advisory Committee. Ms. Smith serves as the Chairperson for the Alaska Native Health Board, a position she has held since 1998. She also presides as the Chair for the Alaska Native Medical Center Joint Operating Board, the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation and serves as the Sergeant- at- Arms for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Ms. Smith serves as 3rd Chief of the Native Village of Dillingham and was a Tribal Judge. In 1997, she was the recipient of the Alaska Federation of Natives Health Award and in 1998 she received the National Indian Health Board’s highest recognition, The Jake White Crow Award. She is Yup’ik Eskimo and the mother of four sons.

Rex Lee Jim - Navajo Nation
NIHB Treasurer and Navajo Area Representative
Vice President of the Navajo Nation

After serving as a ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Public Safety Committee within the 21st Navajo Nation Council, Delegate Rex Lee Jim was sworn into office as the Navajo Nation Vice President on January 11, 2011. Vice President Jim was born and raised in Rock Point, a small farming and ranching community in northern Arizona. He is of the Kin Lichii’nii clan, born for Tachii’nii. His maternal grandfather is Kin Yaa’aanii and his paternal grandfather is Naakaii Dine’e. He has adopted five children: Noah, Ryan, Heather, Twila and Raylon. Vice President Jim attended the Newfound School in Asheville, North Carolina, and graduated from Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, Colorado. During his high school years he was introduced to students from other countries around the world where he gained much appreciation for their unique languages and cultures. After graduating from Princeton University, Vice President Jim entered his education career at Rock Point Community School to teach Navajo to students K-12. He developed a curriculum for K-Graduate programs that was culturally and pedagogically appropriate for Navajo students. He is a published author, Navajo language playwright author, and medicine man; Vice President Jim continues to make diplomatic trips abroad on behalf of the United Nations to improve relations between nation states and indigenous peoples. Vice President Jim played a key role in the drafting and final passage of the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As a Treasurer for the National Indian Health Board, Vice President Jim also serves as a member of the executive committee.

Andrew Joseph, Jr. - Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
NIHB Member-at-Large and Portland Area Representative
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board - Chairperson
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation - Tribal Council Member

Andrew Joseph, Jr. has served on the Colville Tribal Council for five terms. He is a Nespelem district representative, serving on the following Colville committees: Executive Committee, Veterans Committee as Chair, Health & Human Services Committee as 1st Vice, Tribal Government Committee as 1st Vice, and Culture Committee as 1st Vice. Andy is also a voting delegate of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). In July 2007, he was elected Vice Chairman of the Indian Health Service (IHS) Direct Services Tribes Advisory Committee. On January 22, 2009 he was appointed the Chairman of Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) and in April 2011 he was elected Chairman. In March 2013 he was elected the Member- At- Large for the National Indian Health Board.

Leah Fyten - Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Great Plains Area Representative
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe - Secretary

Leah M. Fyten currently serves as the representative for the Aberdeen Area for the National Indian Health Board. Leah also serves on the executive committee for the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board (1999-2002 and September 2012-present). Leah is serving a second term as Secretary, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Executive Committee. Leah has three children and four grandchildren.

Lester Secatero - Tỏ’Hajiilee Band of Navajos
Albuquerque Area Representative
Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board – Chairperson

Lester Secatero is currently the Chairman of the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, Inc. and a board member of the National Indian Health Board. He has been the pastor of The Jesus Church at To’Hajiilee for the past thirty-four years. Mr. Secatero has served the To’Hajiilee Chapter and the Albuquerque area in a number of different capacities. Mr. Secatero has served on the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board for the past fourteen years and was elected Chairman in 2004. He has been married to his wife for over forty-four years and is a father and grandfather.

Michelle Hayward - Redding Rancheria
California Area Representative
California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB) - Chairwoman
Elected Councilwoman, Redding Rancheria – Secretary

Michelle Hayward is of Wintu decent of the Redding Rancheria Tribe, in Northern California. She has been an elected Tribal council member for 8 years. Michelle has been involved in the healthcare field since 1993 at Redding Rancheria Tribal Health Clinic, where she held the position of the Clinic Operations Manager for 5 years. She is now the IHS self- governance coordinator for her Tribe. Michelle has served on the California Rural Indian Health Board since 2007 and was Vice-Chair for one year and then was elected in October 2011 as the Chairwoman, which automatically placed her on the National Indian Health Board representing California. She also serves on Tribal advisory committees for the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Contract Support Cost (CSC). She is honored to be a part of advocating for her people and all Native American and Alaska Natives on the national level for healthcare issues. She has been in front of Congress testifying and in senators’ offices advocating for healthcare for all Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Buford Rolin - Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Nashville Area Representative
Poarch Band of Creek Indians - Chairman

Buford L. Rolin is a devoted member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians community and has served in the capacity of Chairman since June 12, 2006. He is also currently the Co-Chair for the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Planning Committee and the Co-Chair of the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee, as well as a member of the IHS Strategic Planning Committee. Rolin gained his expertise servicing a variety of Tribal sectors over the course of his career with the Poarch Band Creek of Indians. From 1991-1999, Rolin served as Secretary for the Tribe and as the Vice-Chairman. In 1998, he was appointed as Tribal Co-Chair for the National Steering Committee (NSC) for Reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). In 1999, he was appointed Tribal Co-Chair to the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee. In 2000, Rolin was appointed to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy by then-President Bill Clinton. Rolin was also appointed to National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Tribal Leaders Health Information Technology Task Force in 2001, by then- NCAI President Tex Hall. Buford Rolin has served on many national organizations including NCAI, the Atmore Area Partnership for Youth Board of Directors, and the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs. He has held various positions involving the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council, the National Committee on Indian Work, the Episcopal Church, Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Creek Indians Arts Council, Creek Indian Heritage Memorial Association, and the United South & Eastern Tribes (USET). He also currently serves on the board of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), is on the State of Alabama Public Health Advisory Board, and is a member of the USET Health Committee. Rolin has received many awards for his commitment of service to the Tribe. In 1989, he received a service award for improving the health of Indian people. In 1993, he was awarded the Director’s Award for Excellence by the Indian Health Service; in 1996 he received the area director’s Special Commendation Award from the Indian Health Service; and in 2007, Mr. Rolin received the Jake Whitecrow Award from the National Indian Health Board for his work promoting Native healthcare issues.

Martin Harvier - Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Phoenix Area Representative
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Tribal Council - Vice President

Martin Harvier took office as Vice President of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC) in December 2006. Vice President Harvier supports improving education for community members and creating opportunities for cultural preservation and promotion. He notes that the Pima were a peaceful people and believes these feelings could come back into the hearts of families if people know who they are. As Vice President, he supports educational and health-based programming that furthers these goals. Harvier grew up in Poston, Arizona, and when he was in the sixth grade, his family relocated to Sacaton, Arizona, where Harvier attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs School. He graduated from Casa Grande High School in 1977. When Harvier was 19 years old, his father was diagnosed with cancer, and in 1979 lost his battle with the disease. Martin Harvier became the sole support for his mother, three sisters and two brothers. He worked as a chain man on a survey crew for the Gila River Indian Community, and then as a plant mechanic and welder for a company located on the Salt River Indian Community for 11 years. In 1996, the SRPMIC hired Harvier as a civil tech soils tester. In 1998, he was promoted to plant manager of a water pump station, and until assuming the office of Vice President, served as the acting irrigation manager for the community. In his spare time, he coached the Salt River High School baseball team for four years. Although he was not able to continue his education, Harvier has made a point of watching and learning by example. He is committed to treating people with respect and believes that you can tell a lot about someone by how he or she treats others. Harvier and his wife Toni are the proud parents of five children and one grandchild. When not working for the community or involved with his family, Vice President Harvier is an avid sports fan.

Sandra Ortega - Tohono O'odham Nation
Tucson Area Representative
Tohono O'odham Nation Tribal Council Member - Hickiwan District

Sandra Ortega, attended school in Stewart, Nevada and graduated in Phoenix, Arizona. She served as a CHR for sixteen years. During this time she also served as a CNA and first responder. She’s still at CHR at heart, supporting all health programs, IHS, and all health and wellness efforts for the people. To this day she is still called upon by constituents for medical situations. Presently she is serving her fourth term on the Tohono O’odham Legislative Council. As a Councilmember she serves on the Health & Human Services Committee as Vice-Chair, Human Resources Committee as the Chair, and is a member of the Cultural Preservation Committee. Sandra lives for family, coming from a large family of four brothers and four sisters. She’s a simple person that enjoys talking to people, especially elders and youth. Sandra is frequently called upon for motivation speaking within her local area. She loves speaking to people and making them laugh, sharing her thoughts. She believes in togetherness for a positive cause—it always brings us strength. Sandra holds high honor and respect for traditional practices. She speaks O’odham fluently. Another passion of Sandra’s is poetry. In 1992 she was inducted into the Poetic Society for a poem that was published in the same year. Presently she writes poems for herself and others that request.


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