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Tribal Health Equity Summit Speakers

Dr. Malia Villegas (Sugpiaq/Alutiiq) - Senior Vice President of Community Investments, Afognak Native Corporation

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Malia Villegas is an enrolled member of the Native Village of Afognak in Alaska, where she also serves on the Tribal Council. Dr. Villegas is Sugpiaq/Alutiiq (Alaska Native) with family from Kodiak and Afognak Islands in Alaska and O’ahu and Lana’i in Hawai’i.

Dr. Villegas serves as the Senior Vice President of Community Investments at Afognak Native Corporation, where she oversees strategic development, government and public relations, advocacy, marketing, and impact measurement. Dr. Villegas serves on various boards and committees including: Data for Indigenous Justice Board, Genome Canada Precision Health Project Research Oversight Committee, the Spencer Foundation Indigenous Education Leadership Committee, the National Institute on Drug Abuse Collaborative Research Engagement Workgroup, the Native American Contractors Association Board, and the Alaska Federation of Natives Resolutions Committee.

Dr. Villegas previously served as the Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Policy Research Center; co-Chair of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee; Principal Investigator of several federal and private grants; Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and Fulbright Dissertation Fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She co-edited a volume (with S. R. Neugebauer & K. R. Venegas) entitled, Indigenous Knowledge and Education: Sites of Struggle, Strength, and Survivance (Harvard University Press, 2008).

Dr. Villegas received her Doctorate in Education and Master's degree in Education from Harvard University, as well as dual Bachelor's degrees in Political Science and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University. Her greatest joy is being mom to her 2-year-old son, Kwy.

Dr. Bryan Brayboy (Lumbee) – Director of the Center for Indian Education, Arizona State University

Keynote Speaker

Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy is President’s Professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. At ASU, he is Vice-President of Social Advancement, senior advisor to the president, director of the Center for Indian Education, and co-editor of the Journal of American Indian Education. From 2007 to 2012, he was visiting President’s Professor of Indigenous education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

His scholarship is at the intersections of education, Indigenous Studies, law, and policy where he explores the ways that Indigenous Knowledge Systems engage and are engaged by institutions of higher education. He has published over 95 scholarly documents, and his scholarship and programming efforts have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the Ford, Mellon, Spencer, and Kellogg Foundations.

He has been a visiting and noted scholar in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education.

Chief Beverly Cook (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe) - Nashville Area Representative, NIHB Board of Directors

Moderator: Crafting a Tribal Definition of Health Equity

Ms. Beverly Kiohawiton Cook is serving her third term as elected Chief on the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council. For 40 years, Chief Cook has advocated for the rights of Native people in her community of Akwesasne. Chief Cook, a Family Nurse Practitioner, is a prominent voice in the mind-body medicine approach to restoring wellness, reproductive health and environmental justice for Mohawk people. She has presented her signature lecture, “Resilience from our Roots: You are Creation,” to hundreds of community members as well as national and international audiences. The lecture weaves together Haudenosaunee traditions and beliefs with basic reproductive physiology, encouraging understanding of the responsibilities of men and women and exploration of how trauma can be passed down through the generations.

Larry Curley (Navajo) - Executive Director, National Indian Council on Aging

Panelist: How Medicare & Medicaid Policy Can Support Tribal Social Determinants of Health to Achieve Health Equity

Larry Curley is the executive director of the National Indian Council on Aging. Mr. Curley is a member of the Navajo Nation with over 40 years of experience working in the aging and healthcare fields. He has worked with Congress, other branches of the federal government, and national organizations on aging to develop support for programs affecting elder American Indians.

After receiving his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Arizona, along with a certificate in gerontology, Mr. Curley worked as a gerontological planner at an Area Agency on Aging in Pima County, Arizona, where he was instrumental in establishing a county public fiduciary program. As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., he successfully advocated for the passage of Title VI of the Older Americans Act, an amendment which he wrote.

Mr. Curley has served as a nursing home administrator of a tribal, long-term care facility, as a hospital administrator in northern Nevada, and as a college instructor at the University of Nevada-Reno and Eastern Washington University. He was named as the assistant dean of the Four Corners region for the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. He’s also served as the public representative on the American College of Physicians Clinical Guidelines Committee.

Mattie Curry (Blackfeet Nation) – Project Coordinator, Public Health Policy and Programs, National Indian Health Board

Panelist: Improving data to better measure AI/AN health equity

Mattie Curry, MPH, serves as a Project Coordinator at NIHB, focusing on maternal health. Mattie serves as the lead program coordinator for NIHB's Maternal Health projects funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Reproductive Health, and the Climate Ready Tribes Initiative funded through the CDC's Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support. Prior to NIHB, Ms. Curry worked as a professional research assistant at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in the Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program. Ms. Curry completed her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from The Colorado School of Public Health. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Washington State University.

Abigail Echo-hawk (Pawnee) - Executive Vice President at Seattle Indian Health Board and Director of Urban Indian Health Institute

Panelist: Improving data to better measure AI/AN health equity

Abigail Echo-Hawk, MA, is the Executive Vice President of Seattle Indian Health Board and the Director of their data and research division, Urban Indian Health Institute. She serves on the Robert Wood Johnson Public Health Data National Commission, the University of Washington Population Health Initiative External Advisory Board, the Data for Indigenous Justice Board, and many other boards and committees related to data justice and health equity. She also served on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) committee to create A Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus in 2020.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Abigail’s voice has been front and center on a national level, ensuring that the urban Native community is represented in data collection. She has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, including two for the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on COVID-19 among American Indian and Alaska Native people and was lead author on a report about the data genocide of American Indians and Alaska Natives in COVID-19 data.

Abigail earned her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies with a minor in Human Rights and her Master of Arts in Policy Studies both from the University of Washington. She is a researcher and policy professional specializing in tribal government and urban Indian relations. She successfully leads teams of public health professionals to develop culturally competent and culturally relevant NIH-, CDC-, and HHS-funded health and policy interventions with tribal and urban Indian communities across the country.

Carrie Field – Policy Analyst, National Indian Health Board


Carrie Field, MPH, serves as a Policy Analyst at NIHB, focusing on the use of policy to advance health equity for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Prior to NIHB, Ms. Field worked at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan as a regional community health coordinator where she conducted rural, cross-sector Community Health Assessments. Previously, Ms. Field worked as a graduate student intern with the Public Health Law Program within the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ms. Field completed her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Public Health Policy from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Calvin University.

Dr. Kyle Hill (Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota) - Assistant Professor, Indigenous Health, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Panelist: Improving data to better measure AI/AN health equity

Kyle Hill, Ph. D. is Ojibwe, Dakota and Lakota, enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota, descendant of Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota) and Cheyenne River Sioux (Lakota) Tribal Nations. Dr. Hill is an assistant professor in the Department of Indigenous Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In addition, Dr. Hill is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Minnesota, graduating with his Ph. D. in clinical psychology in 2013 from University of North Dakota. Dr. Hill completed a Master of Public Health degree at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in May of 2020.

Throughout his education and training experiences, Dr. Hill has developed a multifaceted skill set in decolonizing mental health treatment, trauma-informed practices, health equity and Indigenous frameworks of health and wellness. In addition, He has worked with numerous American Indian tribes, as health professional, researcher, as well as leadership roles with youth. In his clinical roles, Dr. Hill has taken care in utilizing culturally-sensitive therapeutic tools, deferring to traditional and cultural engagement as the treatment of choice, relative to cases involving complicated, intergenerational trauma and grief as a consequence of (post)colonial discourse.

Dr. Karen Matsuoka - Chief Quality Officer & Director, Division of Quality and Health Outcomes at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Panelist: Improving data to better measure AI/AN health equity

Karen Matsuoka is the Chief Quality Officer for Medicaid and CHIP and Acting Senior Policy Advisor for Health Equity. Dr. Matsuoka brings multi-sector and interdisciplinary expertise to this work and has held positions in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Brookings Institution, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and in the US Congress for the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

Dr. Matsuoka earned her doctorate in social policy from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and her BA and MA from Stanford University. She was recently invited back to Stanford as a visiting fellow in the Institute for Design and the Clinical Excellence Research Center, applying human-centered design approaches to health system redesign issues.

Dr. LaShawn McIver - Director of the Office of Minority Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Dr. LaShawn McIver is the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of Minority Health. She is a proven public health leader with experience in driving successful health initiatives and public policy efforts aimed at promoting health equity, improving health outcomes, increasing access to care, and promoting health system reform. She provides leadership, vision and direction to address CMS minority health and health disparity goals, participates in the formulation of CMS goals, policies and strategies, implements activities to monitor CMS health equity programs, and consults with Federal agencies and external organizations to address health equity.

Under her leadership, the CMS Office of Minority Health has initiated an Agency-wide approach to health equity across all CMS programs. This includes implementation of the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities to ensure our populations’ voices are represented in all aspects of the agency’s work.

Dr. McIver earned a Medical Degree in International Health & Medicine through the Medical School for International Health in Collaboration with Columbia University’s Medical Center and a master’s degree of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Aaron Payment (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) – Director of Government Relations at National Indian Health Board

Moderator: Improving data to better measure AI/AN health equity

Dr. Aaron Payment serves as NIHB Government Relations Director. Before coming to NIHB, Dr. Payment served for 22 years in Tribal elected office, including as Tribal Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Dr. Payment retired from elected office to focus on federal Indian policy issues on a national level. He has served on the HHS Secretary Tribal Advisory, as well as the NIH, SAMSHA, and HRSA Tribal advisory committees. He continues to serve in a Presidential appointment on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. He served as 1st Vice President, Recording Secretary and as Regional VP for the Midwest for the National Congress of American Indians. Dr. Payment is a high school dropout who went on to earn a Bachelor’s, three Master’s and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership.

Harlan Pruden (First Nations Cree) - Indigenous Knowledge Translation Lead at British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Co-Founder of Two Spirit Dry Lab

Panelist: Improving data to better measure AI/AN health equity

Harlan Pruden (nēhiyo/First Nations Cree) works with and for the Two-Spirit community locally, nationally, and internationally. Currently, Harlan is the Indigenous Knowledge Translation Lead at Chee Mamuk, an Indigenous health program at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BSCDC) and is also a co-founder of the Two-Spirit Dry Lab, Turtle Island’s first research group or lab that exclusively focuses on Two-Spirit people, communities and/or experiences. Additionally, Harlan is the co-chair of the BCCDC’s COVID-19 Indigenous Knowledge Translation Working Group.

As a Ph.D. student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU, Harlan explores how Two-Spirit is facilitator of health and wellbeing for Indigenous sexual and/or gender peoples and communities. Harlan is also the Managing Editor of the Two-Spirit Journal and an Advisory Member for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Gender and Health. Before relocating to Vancouver in 2015, Harlan was co-founder and a Director of NYC community-based organization, the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society and was a President Obama appointee to the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and provided advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the White House.

Chairman Amber Torres (Walker River Paiute Tribe) - Phoenix Area Representative, NIHB Board of Directors

Moderator: How Medicare & Medicaid policy can support Tribal social determinants of health to achieve health equity

Ms. Amber Torres has been the Chairman for the Walker River Paiute Tribe for four years and on Tribal Council for ten years. She serves on several national committees, including the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act Committee, the Directors Workgroup on Improving Purchase Referred Care, the National IHS Budget Formulation Committee, an as an alternate to the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee, and is Phoenix Area Representative to the NIHB Board of Directors. Ms. Torres also serves on the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona steering committee and Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada Executive Board.

National Indian Health Board
50 F St NW, Suite 600 | Washington, DC 20001 | Phone: 202-507-4070 | Email: [email protected]