This week we feature Sean Smith, who serves CCUIH in multiple capacities. As a Behavioral Health Integration Intern, Sean has been valuable in providing clinical prospectives to the behavioral health integration advocacy we engage in on behalf of Urban Indian health organizations. And given his background in providing clinical support as a social worker, he has provided useful context in understanding providers’ role in substance abuse and mental health treatment and how they fit in to the current Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) landscape. Sean has also participated in CPCA Provider Network calls representing Urban Indian programs.
Learn More about Sean in his own words:
I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan where I completed my Masters in Social Work. At U of M, I studied Mental Health and Integrated Healthcare. As an MSW Intern, I was able to work with the diverse Urban Indian community in Southwest Detroit. Prior to this, I completed my BA at the University of New Mexico in Linguistics where I worked on a team of educators, students, and community activists to advance language revitalization efforts for the Tohono O’odham tribe of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
I first became interested in CCUIH because of the strength of their advocacy campaigns for Urban Indians. My experience working in American Indian communities, rural and urban, has shown me the depth of health inequities faced by American Indian people. I knew that CCUIH would give me the tools to grow into a better advocate to eliminate these inequities.
This week we feature Montana Weekes, who is CCUIH’s Social Marketing Intern. Montana coordinates CCUIH’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and has been integral in launching the Red Women Rising campaign to bring more awareness to domestic violence issues faced by Urban Indian women. In the next few months, Montana will work to enhance our social media audience and engagement, in an effort to bring more visibility to Urban Indian health issues.
Learn more about Montana, in his own words:
I am a recent graduate from the University of San Francisco (USF) where I earned my Bachelor’s degree majoring in Politics with a strong emphasis African-American social and political issues. While studying at USF, I was able to work with multiple vulnerable and underserved minority communities throughout San Francisco, providing services that range from education and advocacy to policy research. Ultimately, I would like to practice law and find the best way to apply my education to further benefit various communities in need, perhaps by practicing in a non-profit. I hope my work as CCUIH’s Social Marketing Intern will give me a deeper understanding of the complexities of non-profit advocacy work.
This week we feature Mariana Lopez, who serves CCUIH in two capacities, as a Policy and Legislative Intern and a Data Support Intern. As one of our two Data Support Interns, she supports the GONA Research Project, which is a cross-site evaluation of Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) youth activities that are facilitated by our member clinics. As our Policy and Legislative Intern, Mariana helps us track California Legislation that is relevant to Urban Indian Health through our California Legislative Tracker.
Learn more about Mariana, in her own words:
Hi! My name is Mariana and I am from San Diego, California. I am currently a senior graduating in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of San Francisco. I am currently the Vice President of a student organization, Latinas Unidas. With my executive board, we work towards providing support and encouragement for academic endeavors, social pursuits and professional planning within the realm of a positive sisterhood. We focus on issues that affect us as women, college students, and the Latin@ community in San Francisco.
My education at a Jesuit institution and involvement in helping the Latino community has led to a greater understanding of disparities that affect communities of color.
Being a Latina and experiencing how health care policies and practices affect underserved communities of color has encouraged me to intern at CCUIH and work for another underrepresented community. I hope to become more involved in research, policy and outreach before continuing my education towards a masters degree in public health.
This week we feature CCUIH’s summer Policy and Legislation Intern, Shaina Forsman. In this position, Shaina supports the CCUIH team by updating the California Legislative Tracker, and some research activities for the Traditions of Health project.
Read her bio below:
Hello! My name is Shaina Forsman. I am currently entering my senior year at UC Davis studying for a BA in International relations with an emphasis in Global Health, Environmental, and Natural Resources. For the past year and a half I have held the Waste Reduction Coordinator position through UC Davis Dining Services. This year I look forward to working on making one of our dining commons completely zero waste by extricating it of all non recyclable plastic packaging. I am passionate about waste management and its potential to reduce food insecurity and improve environmental health.
Last spring, I interned in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research in Sacramento, focusing on creating a story for their website about the California drought. This internship, as well as a class on global health and Mexican-American relations, inspired my interest in American Indian issues. Learning about the drought, health, and colonialism has shown me the vast marginalization of the indigenous people. While their voices are less heard, it remains extremely important as Californians tackle drought response and health care. As Legislation and Policy Intern I help summarize bills for the California Legislative Tracker It has been a privilege to work for CCUIH and learn about the implications of health policy on American Indians.
As for my future goals, I hope to use my passion for policy to leverage waste management practices that consider environmental and human health.
This week we feature Kristin Rose Costa, our Communications and Operations Intern. In this position, Kristin supports the CCUIH team through communications activities, planning for our Annual Conference, and other program support.
Read her bio below:
Hello! My name is Kristin Rose Costa, and I am the Communications and Operations Intern at CCUIH. I am a recent graduate of Azusa Pacific University, where I received my BA in Global Studies. While pursuing my degree, I interned for Musicians without Borders in Bethlehem, Palestinian West Bank and Holy Land Trust. While abroad, I focused my research project documenting music therapy practices with refugee children with special needs. In Los Angeles, I served as the Community Organizing Intern for Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA). Prior to this, I have served in South Africa with Hamba Ekukanyeni (Walk in the Light) and in South Korea with Global Vision Christian School. I spent a year serving with The Foothills Church in Gilroy, California and primarily assisting with music and teen mentorship.
Through my varied experiences, I furthered my passions concerning social justice, empowering vulnerable communities, and human rights. After spending a considerable amount of time learning from the incredible indigenous communities in the Palestinian West Bank and in South Africa, I was urged to work in my home of California to come alongside and help further the rights of American Indians. This led me to CCUIH, where I have the honor to support and learn from the amazing staff as the Communications and Operations Intern. I am also concurrently acting as the new Communications Associate for As You Sow in Oakland, California.
In the near future,I hope to attain a master’s degree so that I may work towards an impactful career in social justice and crisis relief.
This week we feature Jennifer Smith, one of two phenomenal Data Support Interns for the GONA Research Project. The GONA Research Project, lead by One Fire Associates, is a cross-site evaluation of Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) youth activities that are facilitated by our member clinics.
Read her bio below:
It’s been an honor to support the Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) project as one of CCUIH’s data support interns. While pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies at Mills College in Oakland, I gained exposure to the lasting effects of colonialism and historical trauma on native communities in the class American Indian Women in the U.S. It’s my privilege to make a contribution towards the healing of this trauma using my data analysis skills.
I have always excelled at analytical thinking; before transferring to Mills College, I completed three years in an Engineering program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I transferred despite excelling in my engineering courses because I felt my heart’s purpose lay elsewhere. While completing my undergraduate education, I began my career in non-profit management at Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (MCLI), a human rights legal think tank. As is common among small non-profit organizations, I wore many hats during my tenure as Office Manager at MCLI. I felt the most competent and engaged when completing technical tasks like teaching myself how to update the website or learning how to write scripts in our FileMaker Pro database. After serving at MCLI for five years, I decided to continue my education with a graduate degree in statistics.
I am currently pursuing a Masters of Science in statistics at California State University, East Bay, and I am looking for a way to apply my technical skills to make a positive impact on the world. After graduation, I hope to find a data analysis position supporting work as meaningful as GONA.
This week we feature Carolyn Kraus, our Data Analyst Intern for the GONA Research Project. The GONA Research Project, lead by One Fire Associates, is a cross-site evaluation of Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) youth activities that are facilitated by our member clinics.
Carolyn is completing a longitudinal analysis on the effectiveness of the GONA. The GONA intervention was designed by Native American social workers and mental health care providers at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to build self-efficacy, prevent suicide as well as substance abuse, and cultural awareness in indigenous communities. The GONA focuses on four major themes: belonging, interdependence, generosity, and mastery.
Carolyn is a mixed heritage Anishinaabekwe (Sault Ste. Marie Ojibwe) who grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and rural Michigan. She moved to California in 2003 to attend Mills College, where she studied Ethnic Studies. She is committed to transformative social justice including racial justice, indigenous liberation, and health/healing justice. In her various community roles she has been a protest organizer, peer counselor, and traditional drummer.
After graduating from Mills College in 2008, Carolyn became the Assistant Director of Native American AIDS Project in San Francisco and later served on the Board of Directors. In 2013 and 2014 Carolyn continued her work in healthcare as the Program Coordinator for the Women’s HIV Program at UCSF, where she honed her grant writing skills and developed an interest in research related to trauma in communities of color. Carolyn is a medical student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. She plans to work as a primary care physician and clinical researcher in partnership with Native American communities in California.
This week we feature Karen Baw Vang, our Research Assistant Intern for the Traditions of Health Project. CCUIH’s Traditions of Health Project advances the cultural revitalization efforts of our Urban Indian Health Organizations through policy reform and sustainability planning for American Indian Traditional and cultural practices. Karen’s academic background and drive is invaluable to this project, which she supports through qualitative analysis and literature review.
Read her bio in her own words below:
Hello! My name is Karen Baw Vang. I am a recent UC Berkeley graduate with a BA in Anthropology with a concentration in Medical Anthropology. While at UC Berkeley, I wrote a senior honors thesis on illness, shamanism, and inter-generational loss and transmission among the exilic Hmong communities in California. Blending theoretical frameworks of mourning and melancholia with traditional Hmong conceptual thinking of Ntuj faib sa—the Heavens the dividing the world between life and death, day and night, and the living and dead—the thesis was awarded with the Frankenburg Prize for best departmental thesis in critical medical anthropology.
My interest, experience and passion for traditional health and medicine lead me to CCUIH, where I am an intern assisting with the Traditions of Health Project. I hope that my experiences and skills will be advantageous for CCUIH and the communities that it serves. It’s been a privilege to be part of this great organization, community and all of its amazing work. Aside from CCUIH, I am also an Oakland Reading Corps Literacy Tutor. I serve adorable Transitional-Kindergarten students at Achieve Academy in Oakland, CA.
As for my future plans, I hope to further develop my interests in shamanism, traditional medicine, violence, trauma, psychological and medical anthropology. My goal is to someday pursue a PhD to continue my studies to be able to further support and explore traditional health and medicine.
CCUIH currently works with six outstanding interns on projects ranging from legislative tracking to art & design. Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring each of our interns on our website. This week we feature Sarah Biscarra-Dilley. Sarah has been working with CCUIH since late 2013, as our Design Intern. Her tremendous contributions to CCUIH’s website remodel and our Native Communities of Care project have been integral in developing CCUIH’s new aesthetic and model for community-driven media. Sarah now works on CCUIH’s Red Women Rising Project. The Red Women Rising Project, funded by The Blue Shield of California Foundation, supports culturally responsive domestic violence services for Urban Indians by increasing public awareness and enhancing collaborations between Urban Indian Health Organizations, Domestic Violence Support providers and Traditional Healers. In her support of the RWR project, Sarah assists CCUIH in our community-driven media work through Digital Storytelling Workshops, Talking Circles, and media creation.
Read her artist bio below:
SARAH BISCARRA-DILLEY (Chumash) is a multi-disciplinary artist, basket weaver and novice. Her work explores the spaces between the worlds; between blood sickness and blood lines, between grief and joy, between body and land, between the spatial and the temporal, between personal authority and collective responsibility. She is anchored in the intention and practices of Indigenous decolonization: through cartographic upheaval, through contradiction, through conjuring, through complexity, through communion.
Sarah’s work has been exhibited throughout the US and Canada. In 2011, her work was showcased by former Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) curator Ryan Rice at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s (NAISA) annual meeting, she co-presented the Sexuality Studies Association’s keynote lecture at First People’s House, part of the 2013 Congress of Humanities in Victoria, B.C., and will be contributing to a roundtable discussion on the gifts and limits of the term Two Spirit at NAISA 2015 in Washington D.C. When not scheming alongside her artistic collaborators in Black Salt Collective, she is finishing her BA in Urban Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute
CCUIH currently works with six outstanding interns on projects ranging from legislative tracking to art & design. Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring each of our interns on our website. The first is Amanda Whitecrane, our Policy and Legislation Intern, who we can thank for her diligent work on the California Legislation Tracker. Amanda is also helping us start our Urban Indian Policy Blog.
Learn more about Amanda, in her own words:
I’m delighted to be an intern at CCUIH. I’m learning more about policy and legislation as I update the website and I’m anxious to see what the future will bring as I get to know more about their important work. I recently received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and an American Indian Studies minor at San Francisco State University. I moved to the Bay Area nine years ago from Lame Deer, Montana. As a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, I received my Associates degree from Chief Dull Knife Tribal College in Business. Upon moving to California I worked in Native American non-profits before making the decision to continue my education. I have two daughters, ages 5 and 11, who are absolutely my world and their future is the basis of many of my educational/career pursuits. I’m an active volunteer at NAHC in facilitating IllumiNatives, an evaluation advisory board aimed at creating meaningful and purposeful research that illuminates our community. It ensures that evaluation projects are successful in empowering youth and parent voices within the program. I came to CCUIH as a student and member of the San Francisco community to learn about how policy impacts Native communities.
Through all of my endeavors I hope to someday be able to assist in the establishment of a Native American cultural center that serves as second home to the San Francisco Native community. With the dwindling availability of space in San Francisco it is time to demand that the Native American people have a designated cultural center that can be utilized for community events, educational and cultural classes serve as a resource for residents and an opportunity to acknowledge the original Ohlone people of San Francisco. It is essential for urban communities to offer this space for our youth to develop positive cultural identity. Thank you for allowing me to share with you who I am and my path. Be well.