President & Founding Board Member

KRISTINE RHODES, MPH (Anishinaabe, Bad River)
Executive Director
American Indian Cancer Foundation
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kris RhodesKris Rhodes (enrolled Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and descendent of Fond du Lac Chippewa) earned a Master’s of Public Health degree in Public Health Administration & Policy and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Community Health Education both from the University of Minnesota. Her professional work has focused on improving the health of American Indian health communities always with a community-led focus.  She has developed tribal and urban health programs, resources with a strong focus on evaluation and research in order to develop an evidence base for what works in Native communities. She is currently the CEO of the American Indian Cancer Foundation, a national organization dedicated to eliminating cancer burdens for American Indians.  In this role, she has developed this organization from the ground up to develop the necessary capacity to address a broad spectrum of cancer issues among tribal communities.

Secretary/Treasurer & Founding Board Member

MARIA DADGAR, MBA (Piscataway)
Executive Director
Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona

Maria Dadgar is an enrolled member of the Piscataway Tribe of Accokeek, Maryland. Maria has worked in the fields of Higher Education, Non-Profit Executive Management and TribalEconomic Development for more than 18 years. Throughout her career, Maria has been involved in advocating for public policies and legislation on behalf of tribal nations regarding Economic Development, Health Policy and American Indian Education. Currently, Maria holds the position as Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona which serves 21 member tribal nations by leveraging state and federal resources on their behalf.

Previous positions include: Program Manager for American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; Executive Director of Atlatl National Native Arts Network, Phoenix, AZ; National Program Manager for the Kaiser Family Foundation American Indian Health Policy Fellowship at First Nations Development Institute; and Acting President/CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development in Mesa, AZ.

Maria launched her career in non-profit management as Co-Founder/National Program Coordinator of Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) at American University in Washington, D.C. During the 1990s and under Maria’s direction, WINS was selected as one of “America’s Best Practices,” by President Clinton’s Race Relations Commission for outstanding educational/work experience opportunity for American Indian college students. In addition to working at American University, Maria volunteered with the Clinton/Gore Re-election Team in the Office of Public Liaison, the Native American Desk at the DNC, Native Vote 96 as well as, the 1996 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Maria holds an Associate’s Degree in Journalism/Mass Communications from Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and a MBA from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Among several organizations, Maria serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Miracle House Foundation at Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and is an active member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business, Grand Canyon University Chapter.

Founding Board Member

Chief Administrative Officer
Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Maurice “Mo” Smith has more than 22 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector with over 15 years working with American Indian / Alaska Native communities, Native American organizations and various tribes across the country. His expertise expands to his development of youth programs and his engagement with public health education, sports and wellness, youth services, culture, leadership and social & economic development. Mr. Smith’s many years of management include leadership roles as Program Manager of the United States Olympic Committee, Executive Director for the Native American Sports Council, and as Executive Director of the American Indian Business Leaders. He was also responsible for spearheading the fundraising, management, and organization of the 2006 North American Indigenous Games, also known as the “Indian Olympics,” in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Smith, a Colorado native, is a member of the Navajo Nation and is also African American. Mr. Smith has initiated and developed several non-profit organizations, drawing from his skills as a former world-class track and field athlete through which discipline, work ethic, and focus have led to success in his personal and professional life. He is the first Native American to break the sub-four-minute mile, with a personal best time of 3 minutes and 53 seconds, and holds an MA in Non-profit Management from Regis University (2003) and a BA in Business Administration from Adams State University (1987).

Additional Founders

Myra E. Parker, JD, MPH, PhD (Mandan and Hidatsa), CEO, Seven Directions and Assistant Professor, University of Washington
Aleena M. Kawe, MPH (Hiaki), President & CEO, Red Star International, Inc.


Seven Directions wishes to acknowledge the following individuals who served on the national advisory board that provided leadership and guidance throughout its development:

Tom Anderson, MPH (Cherokee) (Phases I &II)
Former Area Manager, Tribal Epidemiology Center
Oklahoma City Area Inter Tribal Health Board

Jay Butler, MD (Phase I)
Former Senior Director for Community Health Services
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Delia Carlyle (Ak-Chin Indian Community) (Phase II)
Ak-Chin Indian Community

Joseph Finkbonner, RPh, MHA (Lummi) (Phases I &II)
Executive Director
Bridget Canniff (designee)
Project Director
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

Kristin Hill, BSN, MSHSA (Phases I &II)
Former Director, Great Lakes Inter Tribal Epidemiology Center
Great Lakes Inter Tribal Council

Jackie Kaslow (Miwok, Maidu) (Phases I &II)
Public health doctoral student, Harvard University
Former Director, Family and Community Health Services
California Rural Indian Health Board

Byron Larson, MHA (Northern Cheyenne) (Phase II)
Former Associate Director
Urban Indian Health Institute/Seattle Indian Health Board

Don Warne, MD, MPH (Oglala Lakota) (Phase II)
Chair, Department of Public Health
North Dakota State University

National Partners

Seven Directions would all like to acknowledge two national partners, the National Indian Health Board and the National Network for Public Health Institutes (NNPHI). Both organizations participated alongside the advisory board, and provided leadership and guidance throughout the project. NNPHI provided technical assistance and guidance since the beginning of the project and at critical points in Seven Directions’ development.


We are grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). Without the support from grants from the RWJF, the dream of exploring the feasibility of an Indigenous focused public health institute (PHI), never would have been realized. A grant from the WKKF made it possible to take what we learned, and develop Seven Directions, A Center for Indigenous Public Health, into a sustainable Indigenous PHI.

© Copyright 2018 - Seven Directions, A Center for Indigenous Public Health