Elyse Dempsey (Diné) is the Program Assistant for Native Public Media. With a background in education and a passion for social justice, she believes in creating equal access to opportunities and resources for underrepresented communities in order to create empowered and healthy nations.
Elyse is of the Towering House People born for the Rock Gap People. Her maternal grandfather is of the Bitter Water People and her paternal grandfather is of the Deer Springs People. Elyse received her Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Macalester College. She is originally from Oak Springs, Arizona.
Melissa Begay is the Operations Manager (Navajo Nation). She is of the Many Goats clan, born for the Towering House clan. Her maternal grandparents are Salt clan and her paternal grandparents are Red Running into the Water clan. Melissa is from Tuba City, Arizona.
Melissa’s interest and passion is supporting and building strong Tribal Nations to further develop the academic, leadership, and lifelong learning skills of its people in order to achieve their personal growth, health and life success.
Over 15 years, Melissa worked to cultivate access to help Native American students achieve post-secondary education and more recently worked with the early childhood leaders, including the local governing body, community leaders, tribal leaders, and other stakeholders to create greater opportunities for children five and younger to ensure they receive the quality education, healthcare and family support they need to arrive at school healthy and ready to succeed.
Melissa attended Northern Arizona University where she received her bachelors in Business Administration and a Masters in Administration with an emphasis in Educational Leadership.
Joaqlin Estus (Tlingit) states her objective is to increase public awareness and understanding of the history, culture, and issues facing the Alaska Native community. Estus is a historian and has experience in resource management planning; public relations for a tribal health organization, and was a reporter working in public radio at KTOO FM in Juneau, Alaska and at Minnesota Public Radio. Ms. Estus a special projects consultant for KNBA-FM, a Native-owned and operated public radio station serving Anchorage and South central Alaska (where the majority of Alaska’s population resides), which is a part of Koahnic Broadcasting with a mission to bring Native voices to Alaska and the nation through KNBA and national programming. Estus states, “While I use social media personally, being a part of NPM’s June 2012 course on Digital Journalism and Storytelling has helped me more fully see the potential to extend the reach of Native voices to an enormous audience throughout the world. As KNBA redesigns its Internet presence, I plan to continue to use my experiences to continue to work towards my personal mission.”
Geoffrey C. Blackwell (Chickasaw) is the Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel at AMERIND Risk, managing multiple departments involving legal affairs, strategic development, and diversification endeavors. He oversees the Finance, Human Resources, Communications, and IT departments. Mr. Blackwell is a nationally recognized expert in Tribal economic development and diversification strategies, and communications infrastructure deployment. He has testified before the United States Congress on six occasions, and met formally with dozens of Tribal Councils throughout the nation.He sits on the Boards of Directors of Native Public Media, and Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute.
Previously, Mr. Blackwell was a senior manager and policy-maker at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He was the founding Chief of the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy from 2010 to 2015. For over eleven years total, over two separate periods that also included 2000 to 2005, he led Tribal affairs the FCC. He advised the entire FCC on matters involving Tribal Nations, guiding the FCC’s activities to incentivize the deployment of broadband and communications technologies across Indian Country. He developed and led annual training and consultation workshops for Tribal Nations and the communications industries. He also helped lead the FCC’s efforts to protect Tribal sacred sites and cultural resources, ensure low income families on Tribal lands have telephone and broadband services, and prioritize radio and television broadcasting media ownership opportunities for Tribal Nations.
Prior to his most recent federal service, Mr. Blackwell worked for five years, from 2005 to 2010, as the Corporate Director of Strategic Relations and Minority Business Development at Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. (CNI), a business incubation holding company of the Chickasaw Nation. He led efforts to leverage federal programs and private sector funding and partnerships to establish Tribally-owned companies and joint venture opportunities throughout the country. While with CNI, Mr. Blackwell served on the Boards of Directors of Native Public Media, the National Small Business Association, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and the Acoma Business Enterprises Board of the Pueblo of Acoma.
Mr. Blackwell also chaired the Telecommunications Subcommittee of the National Congress of American Indians, served on the FCC’s Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age, and served as the indigenous representative from the United States on the international Indigenous Commission for Communications Technologies in the Americas.
During his first period of service at the FCC, from 2000 to 2005, Mr. Blackwell was the first enrolled member of a Tribal Nation to work at the FCC. As an FCC Senior Attorney and Liaison to Tribal Governments, he helped author the FCC’s foundational policies with respect to Tribal Nations, including the FCC’s seminal 2000 Tribal Policy Statement. Prior to the FCC, he worked in the Corporate Litigation Department of Hale and Dorr, LLP, (now Wilmer Hale), in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mr. Blackwell is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. He is also descended from the Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. Mr. Blackwell is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School Of Law.
Hector Youtsey is the General Manager at KPYT-LPFM with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. He help build the station in 2005 and has been the general manager for almost 12 years. Mr. Youtsey has spent 23 years in the broadcasting field as an announcer, program director, music director and general manager.
He has also served as vice chairman and council member for at First Things First Pascua Yaquai Tribal Regional Council, and as as vice president of public relations at Tu’i NonoKameh Toasters.
Mr. Youtsey is also the lead singer at Suerte Musical (Tejano) and FLG (Frank Lopez Group), a Tribute to Santana and he hosts the More Variety Morning Show on KPYT-LPFM.
Jiselle Halfmoon (Nez Perce/Cayuse/Umatilla) is the Operations Manager for KCUW 104.3FM Radio on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Eastern Oregon. She began her profession as a volunteer DJ when KCUW first went on the air in 2004. Hired on as full time staff in 2009, Jiselle’s radio tenure accomplishments include implementing & producing local news, advocating community journalism, citizen lobbying for community radio, launching KCUW programming onto online streaming, recording & producing language lessons/Oral History, forming a sizeable volunteer base, remote broadcasts of community events, hosting a weekly talk show and candidate campaign profiles during tribal election season.
In addition, she unwinds with her own daily afternoon radio show called “Tha Mish Mix” which is an eclectic mix of music from multiple generations. Jiselle was also recently elected as theGeneral Council Secretary for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Her interests include anything and everything to do with tribal people, media and politics.