Dana is a public health professional with over 20 years of experience.   After many years of working in the field of nursing she was convinced that some very important health determinants were being ignored; such as housing, education, socioeconomic status and environment.  Dana has an extensive understanding of how one’s surroundings play an important role in health and wellbeing.  She attended Illinois State University where she had the honor of being a Stevenson Center Applied Community and Economic Development Fellow and received a MS in Politics and Government.   She also attended the University of Illinois, Chicago where she received her MPH in Policy and Administration.  

Her passion drives her determination while her many years of career and life experiences provides her the roadmap for innovative social based program and project development. 

Dana learned about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Oglala Lakota Tribe when she was conducting research on health care statistics.  She was immediately drawn to the staggering numbers that revealed a story that she felt was not being told.  Upon returning home from a trip to Pine Ridge she founded kaga:create with a mindset of developing an organization and program of empowerment.

Joanna Bossi

vice president

Joanna is a nonprofit resource development professional living in Chicago. She is currently a Relationship Manager at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago where she manages an annual fundraising portfolio of over $7 million. In her role at United Way, Joanna works to create mutually beneficial relationships with corporate partners, assisting them in aligning their philanthropic goals with the needs of local communities.

She has a passion for working in the fight against poverty and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Missouri upon graduating from college. Prior to moving to Chicago, Joanna held resource development roles with various community development organizations across the country. 

Joanna had the pleasure of being an ACED Fellow through the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development at Illinois State University where she earned a Master of Science degree in Political Science and Applied Community Development. Originally from San Diego, Joanna is a first generation college graduate and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from California State University, Fresno. 

Zach Kennedy


Zach Kennedy provides state leadership in participatory community planning, leadership and organizational development, and community economic development as an Extension Specialist in Community and Economic Development with University of Illinois Extension.  He has been an Extension employee since 2009. His previous role within Extension was as a Community and Economic Development Educator serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties.  He has particular interests in helping local governments and non-profit organizations build their capacity to engage in data driven decision making and planning. 

Kennedy is a native of Champaign-Urbana and holds two degrees from the University of Illinois including a Bachelor's degree in Economics, and a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning with a concentration in Economic Development.  He is currently pursuing his doctorate at the University of Illinois in Regional Planning.  He is a member of the American Planning Association (APA) and the Illinois Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (IL-ACDEP).

Amanda Swartzendruber


Amanda earned her M.S. in Public Service from Illinois State University.  She served as an AmeriCorps Fellow working on behalf of older adults with the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging and created Maturing of Illinois Report for the State of Illinois, a compilation of research related to aging readiness in the state.  She spent a decade in retail sales management prior to studying political science and is passionate about workforce development and elevating the lives of Americans in poverty.

Amanda has most recently been writing and has completed a chapter of a high school text book focused on issues related to social media and privacy rights.  She also volunteers at Jefferson Elementary School, Inspired Arts Academy and is active in her community.    

Jamie Boban Ndayishimiye

Jamie Boban

Viewing herself as a global citizen, Jamie has a deep passion for human rights. She is a non-profit and community development professional with eight years of experience in the field. Jamie is committed to empowering others to improve their quality of life and currently works as the Development Manager for the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative raising funds to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to baby throughout Illinois. Jamie previously served as a grant writer and researcher in Kigali, Rwanda, where she built organizational capacity for Uyisenga N’Manzi, a local NGO supporting survivors of genocide and HIV/AIDS. She also served an as AmeriCorps VISTA in rural northern California.
Jamie was an ACED Fellow at the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development at Illinois State University earning her MS in Political Science and Applied Community Development in 2013. She earned a BS in Political Science and African Studies from ISU in 2009. Jamie enjoys experiencing new cultures through travel, food, and dance, and she loves summertime in Chicago.

tyler curtis

Tyler Curtis received his Master’s degree in Sociology from Illinois State University in May 2013. While enrolled at ISU Tyler also served in the U.S. Peace Corps through ISU's Peace Corps Master’s International program. Tyler was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the West African nation of Togo from Sept. 2010-2012; working in a rural village to implement afterschool and teacher training programs focused on life skills and gender equality. Following completion of his graduate degree he briefly worked for the non-profit BronxWorks in Bronx, NY. Tyler currently resides in Virginia Beach and works in youth counseling and is an adjunct sociology instructor. 


brett kepley

Brett is an attorney practising law in Champaign, Illinois since 1986. He is a principal with the firm O'Byrne, Stanko, Kepley & Jefferson, PC. He holds a BA degree in History from the University of Illinois and a JD from Northern Illinois University.

He has been counsel for many not-for- profit corporations including Habitat for Humanity.  He has had a lifelong passion for history and is an avid student of the history of North American Native Americans. He believes that Kaga:Create is a great avenue for elevating the lives of Native American children.

While active in community organizations, he still finds time for his astronomy so as to star gaze every cloudless night; and, by virtue of the recent resurgence of the Chicago Cubs, he has had his Cubs pacifier successfully removed from his mouth.


maddy peters

Maddy Peters is a student at Central Michigan University, who is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is a classically trained cellist and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in music education.   Maddy started playing in 2007 and has expanded into learning other instruments as well. She enjoys performing, writing, and arranging music, plus performs in a band, and in the worship team at her church.

Maddy first became involved with Pine Ridge in 2012 while on a mission trip with her church, and fell in love with the culture and the residents. She has returned to “The Rez” twice since then, and plans to do so many more times in the future. Her trips out to Pine Ridge changed her life and gave her an entire new perspective. Maddy hopes to combine her creativity and passion for serving others to be an asset for Kağa: Create. She highly encourages any of you to visit Pine Ridge if you have the chance. 

Ashley Pourier

Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Ashley Pourier (Oglala Lakota) is currently the curator at the Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School. She earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, majoring in studio art with a focus in three-dimensional art, Asian studies, and Japanese language with a minor in art history.

After returning home from her undergraduate studies, Pourier stayed true to her interest and applied at art organizations in the area. Ashley received a funded internship from the Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School. Having interned and holding every job in between, she now serves as curator of at the Heritage Center. Her time at The Heritage Center has lead her down a path of museum studies and collections management as well as honing her knowledge of Native American arts and culture both historic and contemporary.

She also serves on the Dahl Arts Center’s Exhibition Committee in Rapid City, SD and has also served as a judge at art shows and history day competitions.





kristina bad hand

Kristina Bad Hand is an artist, teacher, entrepreneur and all around creative thinking machine. Born to a Lakota medicine man and a very strong career woman she was raised appreciating all cultures and ways of life. She has been drawing since she could hold a pencil and has been active in the art world from a very young age. Her wide interests have caused her to have a little bit of experience in just about everything. Recently she has successfully started her own business and continues to do her art, while teaching kids how to hone their own creative skills and writing and illustrating for Indigenous Narrative Collective Comics.

allison clark, ph.d

Allison is a strategic innovative futurist with over seventeen years of educational technology analysis and outreach experience. She is a committed discerning thinker and planner who has written, studied and presented extensively on digital inequalities in the areas of computing, education and communities. As a pioneer in creating culturally compelling STEM/STEAM educational materials for k-12 youth she has been involved with activities that include designing, developing, leading and implementing projects and programs with computer scientist, educators, artists, community members and scientist to integrate computing and communications technologies into higher education, K-12 education, and new communities. 

She is committed to the understanding and promoting the intersection of education, culture, policy and technology and received her Ph.D. in Media and Information Studies from Michigan State University.

carly mayberry

Carly is a seasoned writer/journalist who has covered the entertainment world as well as community news, travel and human-interest stories. She is also an experienced storyteller in non-fiction programming and has worked as a story assistant on the Showtime documentary series “Time of Death” and has training in video editing software Final Cut Pro and Avid. Most recently, Carly has written for Variety, Studio System News and Moving Pictures Magazine and taught writing as an adjunct professor at Biola University.

She also just completed the Act One Producing & Executive Entertainment Program. Prior to that, she worked at The Hollywood Reporter where she developed multiple entertainment industry sources working first as a staff writer covering digital media and then film.

Before coming to the Los Angeles area, she began her journalism career in Montana, where she worked at a weekly paper covering community affairs and Glacier National Park. She later returned to Montana to receive her Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Montana after receiving the Kim Williams journalism scholarship. Besides working at other publications including the Whittier Daily News and the Easy Reader where she served as the Redondo Beach Editor, she also has experience in blogging, SEO and newspaper/magazine/newsletter page design/lay-out. When she isn’t writing for print, she is working on a documentary chronicling the life of a single mother who is raising three children with cerebral palsy.


Adam has a passion both for elevating the quality of life for Native Americans and serving this population through not-for-profit business models. He is the founder of the Kola Foundation; a non-profit focused on improving living conditions for the Oglala Lakota in Southwest South Dakota, and is excited to be involved with kaga: create. His background includes 6 years as a business management and strategy consultant and 2 years in product marketing and brand management for Fortune 150 companies. He has worked in the following industries: financial services, technology services, airline/transportation, insurance, logistics/distribution, and consumer products. He is a published author in business and economics journals, and is also passionate about global economic development. Adam continues to be involved with business start-up activities and assisting not-for-profit businesses in achieving expansion goals as well as implementing strategic projects.

Adam received his B.A. from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, his MBA from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and is working towards his MSW at Aurora University to better serve diverse and challenged populations.

Lee steffen

Lee is an award-winning creative director and photographer. For over a decade, Lee has developed major brand campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, major non-profits, countless Grammy-winning artists and globally-renowned individuals ranging from Maya Angelou to Johnny Cash. The campaigns Lee has directed have garnered tens of millions of hits online, and have been seen in over 130 countries.

Some of Lee’s clients include MTV Networks, Random House and Capital Music, and his work can be seen in outlets like TIME, The New York Times, Nike and CNN. Lee is a recipient of a Gold Folio award for magazine art direction, one of the highest achievable editorial awards. He has also been named one of the “Top 100 Photographers” on Twitter. 

Lee has been at the heart of travel and adventure for years. He’s jumped off the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, climbed to base camp of Mount Everest, scuba-dived with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef and mountain-biked down the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Road.’ 

A former non-profit founder, Steffen’s extensive travels around the world have given him a unique understanding of global trends and cultural insights and have made him a passionate proponent for social justice and equality.