Chief Executive Officer

Kristine Rhodes, MPH

Anishinaabe, Fond du Lac and Bad River Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 844)

Read Kristine's Bio

Kristine Rhodes is Anishinaabe, an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a Fond du Lac Reservation community member where she was born and raised. She 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. She has worked on improving the health of American Indian health communities for the past two decades. Her work has included the development and evaluation of many tobacco control efforts in American Indian communities throughout Minnesota. From 2000 – 2010 she coordinated multiple research projects at the American Indian Community Tobacco Projects at the University of Minnesota. Prior to that, she was the Health Educator for the Fond du Lac Reservation where she initiated community-tailored tobacco cessation programming and worksite wellness for tribal employees. Her passion and commitment to tobacco and cancer control is dedicated to her Grandmother, Betty Ella Benton-DeFoe-Morrison, who died from cancer twenty-years ago.

Project Coordinator

Amber Cardinal, MPH

Arikara, Hidatsa, Ojibwa
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 849)

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Amber Cardinal is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota. She is also Keweenaw Bay Band of Ojibwa. She is currently seeking her certificate in American Indian Public Health from North Dakota State University. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in Management of Infectious Disease and a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science with a Psychology minor from North Dakota State University. Amber's Master's paper specifically investigated historical trauma, adverse childhood experiences, lack of resiliency factors and structural inequities to interpret the deep-rooted causes of significant health inequities afflicting American Indians in Minnesota and ways to mitigate these factors. During her time in graduate school, Amber enjoyed working as a project assistant at the American Indian Public Health Resource Center (AIPHRC) in Fargo, ND. As a part of the AIPHRC team she traveled to the North Dakota tribal communities and urban populations working on tribal engagement, substance abuse prevention, and improving maternal and child health outcomes.

As a Project Coordinator with AICAF, Amber works across multiple projects and initiatives including the Healthy Native Foods Initiative and Fon Du Lac Comprehensive Cancer Program. In leading these projects she focuses on designing and evaluating cancer prevention strategies to inform, support and strengthen sustainable systems in American Indian communities and support the development of resources, programs and services to promote healthy norms and ultimately improve health. It is Amber's passion to work with and for the American Indian community to raise awareness about the existing health inequities, their causes and methods for improving the state of health.

Community Outreach Specialist

Daanis Chosa

Bois Forte
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 853)

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Daanis Chosa is from the Keweenaw Bay Chippewa Indian Community in Michigan and an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa located in Northern Minnesota. Daanis is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development with an Indigenous focus. Daanis was employed as the Tobacco Education and Policy Development Coordinator with the Bois Forte Health and Human Services Department funded by ClearWay Minnesota. This is where Daanis received a great portion of her training and education in Community Health. During her time at Bois Forte Health and Human Services, she completed Emergency Medical Services training and joined Bois Forte EMS while also volunteering for the Bois Forte Fire Department. After four years of working with Health and Human Services, she was employed as a Law Enforcement Officer. Daanis graduated from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Land Management Police Training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the Department of Homeland Security Firearms Instructor Training Program in Artesia, New Mexico. In late 2013, she made the decision to make the big move from the reservation to the Twin Cities area; as her passion has always been to work with and help Anishinaabe people in public safety, public health or community development.

At AICAF, Daanis is the Community Outreach Specialist and leads the breast health awareness Pink Shawl Project which educates American Indian women about breast health issues and improving access to screening in a way that is culturally-tailored and community based within tribal and urban communities. Daanis also leads the Quit Connections tobacco cessation project which is designed to reinforce existing cessation efforts and to increase quit attempts within tribal and urban American Indian communities through social media and material development.

Outreach Coordinator

Amanda Dionne, BA

Lame Deer Northern Cheyenne/Turtle Mountain Ojibwe
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 847)

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Amanda Dionne is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Reservation. She holds a Bachelor’s of Art degree(s) in Business Management and a Business/Economics from Augsburg College in Minnesota. During her senior year at Augsburg Amanda became a full time AmeriCorps Member through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and started at her placement site- the Native American Community Development Institute. She served two years as an AmeriCorps member then was hired as a full time employee for a year following her service.

Currently, Amanda works at The American Indian Cancer Foundation serving as the Outreach Coordinator for the Tribal Health Equity in Prevention Project. She will work with the Minnesota American Indian communities to decrease excess morbidity and mortality through community dialogue, policy development, and by working with communities to identify strategies to impact change.

Marketing & Design Manager

Jessica Harjo, MA

Otoe-Missouria, Osage, Pawnee, Sac & Fox
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 846)

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Jessica Harjo is an enrolled member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma. She is also Osage, Pawnee, and Sac & Fox. Jessica is currently working on her PhD in Design at the University of Minnesota. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Design with a focus in Graphic Design from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Oklahoma State University with a Certificate in Environmental Studies. Jessica is passionate about design, design research, and how design can impact Native people. Her research includes Native American language development through Typography and Graphic/Interactive design, How design impacts Native Communities, and Native American Symbolism in Landscape Architecture. Through her doctoral research, Jessica will be exploring how preventative health material design could impact American Indian communities.

Jessica is a National Center of American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) "40 Native Americans Under 40" 2009 Recipient, and has received other leadership awards and honors for her work with promoting leadership amongst Native youth.

As the Marketing & Design Manager at AICAF, she is responsible for the design and implementation of AICAF in programs, resources, social media, print and digital materials, and affiliated websites. She also works with media and marketing throughout the work of AICAF.

Communications Specialist

Grace Jaworski, BA

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 857)

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Grace Jaworski is an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Minnesota Campus Compact College Health Corps for the 2016/2017 year. She graduated from Northwestern University with her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and International Studies in 2015. Grace has previously interned at American Refugee Committee working with international program development and at Heartland Alliance Chicago supporting refugees through job skills training. Her passions include culturally tailored health initiatives and women’s health.

At AICAF, Grace develops communication plans and materials for a variety of projects including smoking cessation and the HPV vaccine. She also supports fundraising and development initiatives for the foundation.

Project Coordinator

Chris Johnson, MA

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 856)

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Chris Johnson is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. He holds a Masters of Arts degree in Educational Administration from the University of South Dakota, and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Studies and Norwegian from the University of North Dakota. Chris previously worked at the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, where he was a Program Manager for the Good Health and Wellness Program, supporting programs to improve the health and wellness of American Indian communities through policy, systems, and environmental changes.

At AICAF, Chris leads the American Indian Oral Cancer Prevention project, using needs assessment findings to develop materials and resources related to oral cancer screening and tobacco cessation in dental clinics, and applies his background in policy, systems, and environmental change across AICAF programs.

Project Coordinator

Meggan McCann, MPH

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 850)

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Meggan McCann was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, and has lived in Minneapolis or Taipei, Taiwan, since 2005. Before working in public health, she worked primarily in communications, including as an editor at a national newspaper and as a translator for Taiwan's flagship university. Her transition to public health began with a stint working in India at a diabetes education center.

Meggan has an MPH from the University of Minnesota’s Community Health Promotion program and has previously worked in communications for the Minnesota Department of Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Program.

At AICAF, Meggan leads projects related to the HPV vaccine and clinical systems improvement for tobacco cessation. Her primary interests include culturally appropriate messaging and research to improve health interventions.

Administrative Assistant

Leah O'Fallon

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 851)

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Leah O'Fallon holds a Bachelor's Degree in English, which has helped her work in communications, editing and copywriting. Cancer support and health disparities research has always been a passion, but prior to joining AICAF, she worked in marketing and never felt that her job was making a difference.

At AICAF, Leah assists in various outreach programs as well as the day to day administrative work within the office, including fundraising and accounting.

Evaluation Manager

Peggy O'Halloran, MPH

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 845)

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Peggy O’Halloran earned a MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and a BS in Biology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She developed her program evaluation expertise through positions with public health programs in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Prevention Initiative, working with American Indian communities and other community based organizations to plan and evaluate tobacco prevention efforts. She later provided evaluation support for the STD & HIV prevention program at the Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Alcohol Studies and Education. While working for the Wisconsin Research and Education Network, a practice based research network, she supported quality improvement initiatives in primary care practices and coordinated other UW Madison Department of Family Medicine research projects.

At AICAF, she applies this varied background to provide program and evaluation support across all programs.

Policy Programs Manager

Melanie Plucinski, MPH

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ojibwe
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 854)

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Melanie Plucinski is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. She holds a Master’s of Public Health degree in Health Policy and Administration with a concentration in Health Disparities from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from the University of Minnesota, in Political Science and Social Justice.

Melanie is the former Legislative Director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and also worked for the Department of Human Services’ Office of Economic Opportunity as the American Indian Liaison. During her time in graduate school, Melanie worked with the St. Paul Family Education Diabetes Series (FEDS). She also spent two years as a Community Health Worker with the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic and conducted her field experience in nutrition and social business with the Peace House Secondary School in Tanzania.

As the Policy Programs Manager, Melanie works across multiple AICAF projects and initiatives with a special emphasis on policy, systems and environmental change to advance tribal health equity, cancer prevention, and healthy norms in American Indian communities.

Community Education Specialist

Joy Rivera, CHW

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 843)

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Joy Rivera belongs to the Snipe Clan of the Seneka Nation Haudenosaunee People. She has more than 30 years teaching experience in the Indigenous community at the junior high, senior high and adult levels of education. Joy taught at both the late Heart of the Earth Survival School and the Red School House. For 17 years, she coordinated the nationally-recognized Ogitchidag Gikinooamaagad Peer Education Program that traveled throughout Indian County teaching Indigenous youth about health issues through live theater.

Currently, Joy does outreach in the Twin Cities indigenous community as the colon cancer screening navigator. In this work, she will tell you and anyone who will listen how to prevent colon cancer.

Health Programs Specialist

Laura Sioux Roberts, BA

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 855)

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Laura Sioux Roberts is Anishinaabe from the Red Lake Nation and Dakota from the Santee Nation. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Justice & Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas in 2016. She plans to continue her education in the future.

Throughout her four years at the University of St. Thomas, Laura served as both an intern for the Justice and Peace Studies department and a coordinator for the Students for Justice and Peace club on campus. She also served as a Peer Consultant with the Center for Writing, where she offered support to students in developing their writing skills. Prior to her work at AICAF, Laura worked as a Research Assistant with the Planning Services Division of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board doing community outreach, data collection, and data analysis.

Laura is committed to supporting youth and healing in the American Indian community. Laura’s foremost goal is both to teach and be taught, to learn from her community in order to continue on a strong, healthy path and to help her people. As the Health Programs Specialist at AICAF, Laura provides support to the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative. Through her work, Laura hopes to increase the number of American Indian women who are screened for cervical cancer in accordance with state or national health care guidelines.

Public Health Associate

Sambridhi Shrestha, MPH

Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 852)

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Sambridhi Shrestha is a Public Health Associate through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . She was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and has been living in the USA since 2002 . She earned a MPH in Epidemiology from Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in Georgia. Prior to working for AICAF, she has volunteered at Livingston County of Public Health in Mt . Morris ,NY and Hearts and Hands Clinic in Statesboro, GA. Her passions include maternal & Child Health and Chronic health.

As a Public Health Associate, Sambridhi will work  on projects that fall under the AICAF Cancer Prevention and Screening programs. She will coordinate the development of a Clinical Innovations Support Program that provides ongoing technical assistance to support implementation of customized clinic team system practices and policies to improve cancer screening and tobacco cessation referral rates in clinics, using tools and practices that work best for clinics.

Operations Manager

Neely Snyder, BS

Anishinaabe, St. Croix, Mille Lacs & Red Lake
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 841)

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Neely Snyder is Anishinaabe. She is an enrolled member of the St. Croix Chippewa Tribe and is also a direct descendant of the Red Lake Nation and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Neely holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Business (2014) in addition to an Associate’s degree in Multimedia Computer Graphics (1999). She's a Circle of Leaders graduate from Native Americans in Philanthropy, where she was previously the Program & Office Coordinator. Prior to joining AICAF, Neely was Program Coordinator of the MN Urban Area Health Education Center (AHEC) working in collaboration with the University of Minnesota in preparing underrepresented urban communities for health professions.

Neely has a passion and commitment to working with and for Native American communities and brings a wealth of skills and experience in non-profit management of the administrative, financial, and human resource functions of the American Indian Cancer Foundation.

Health Projects Manager

Anne Walaszek, MPH

Anishinaabe, White Earth
Office: 612.314.4848 (ext. 842)

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Anne Walaszek is an enrolled member of White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She holds a Master’s of Public Health degree in Maternal and Child Health and Bachelor's of Science degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Her research experiences have been primarily in research development, coordination and data analyses in areas of child development and diabetes.

Her passion to work in the area of American Indian health led to the opportunity in coordinating a task force with tribal and urban communities in Minnesota focused on diabetes prevention. As the Research Associate, she leads the data management and analyses efforts across multiple projects in addition to conducting the recruitment and scheduling for all INPACS visits.