Meet Our Staff
My passion for giving back to my community has led me to my role as Chief Operations Officer at AICAF. I have discovered that while my mind processes things in terms of business, I have a nonprofit heart.
My family hails from White Earth & Turtle Mountain and both sides have been affected by cancer. My background in operations and nonprofit management has prepared me for the opportunity to support our organization in shifting the needle on public health outcomes for our people. As Chief Operations Officer, I work to develop, implement, and support strategic objectives, manage human resource functions, daily operations, and play a lead role in our annual Powwow for Hope.
Han mitakuyepi! I am an enrolled member of the Meskwaki Nation in Iowa, and Dakota from the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux Tribes. I grew up in South Dakota and come from a large extended family. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and earned an MS in Human Development from South Dakota State University. As the Chief Programs Officer, I am committed to working with and for our tribal communities, both urban and rural as we support our loved ones with opportunities to heal, emotionally, historically, spiritually, and physically from the burdens of cancer. I do this work because of the lasting impacts of cancer on my immediate and extended family. We know many cancers are preventable, and our people deserve access to those preventative resources that keep them healthy for themselves, their families and communities.
I am an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation in Northwestern Minnesota.
I choose to work at AICAF because of the mission and values. As a person who works behind the scenes of an organization, as many financial people do, I feel it is important to feel passionate about the organization. I feel excited, motivated and inspired to be a part of the AICAF team with so many talented individuals. I bring several years of nonprofit and financial experience.
Hau mitakuyepi! I choose to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation because of the impact cancer has had on my family. Working at AICAF allows me the opportunity to help end the cancer disparities that disproportionately affect our communities. In my role as the Prevention and Policy Manager, I work across AICAF initiatives with expertise in policy, system and environmental (PSE) change solutions. I also take a lead on project coordination of partners, resources development, facilitation, training, and technical assistance with an emphasis on culturally-relevant PSE changes that promote health equity, health promotion and healthy norms.
Boozhoo! I work with the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) because I believe that we need more data about the health inequities within our communities.
As a Research Assistant at AICAF, I assist with study design and collecting, analyzing, and disseminating research about the behavioral risk factors of cancer in American Indians. I have an MPH in Community Oriented Primary Care and I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. I am dedicated to serving and advocating for Indigenous communities within the health research sector.
Hello! I am the Office Administrator with the American Indian Cancer Foundation. Growing up, many of my friends and family had in some way been affected by cancer. With it being a large presence in my life, it lead me to work in the healthcare field. While working alongside individuals every day, many who were in the dark about what was happening, it gave me the drive to find a career where I could help them. When the opportunity presented itself to join the AICAF team, it felt like a calling. Though most of my work is behind the scenes here, my past experiences give me the drive and motivation to support our staff so they can further provide American Indian and Alaskan Native people with access to resources and information they need about prevention, early detection and treatment.
Tawnshi! My family hails from southern Ontario. I grew up in northern Michigan and have eight siblings with lots of extended family. I received my undergraduate degree in social work and went on to earn an MA in comparative religion specializing in American Indian religion. I also have a Masters of Social Work with an emphasis in American Indian content. I work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation because I believe spiritual coping for Indigenous folks is central to healing and reclaiming identity. In my research role, the work we do is intervention-oriented, community-based, and bridges the gap between conventional research and applied justice action. Ideological value commitments underline this work, which critically examines health disparities for our communities. With cancer touching the lives of many around me, I know that research and advocacy go hand-in-hand.
Boozhoo. I’m from the Keweenaw Bay Chippewa Indian Community in Michigan and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in Minnesota. I currently hold an A.S. in Community Development and am currently seeking my B.S. in Sociology – Policy Analysis at the University of Minnesota. I choose to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation because I am an advocate for health equity in Native communities and reclaiming our identity and culture as Indigenous people. My family and I have been impacted by cancer and have lost loved ones to this disease as I know many others have. It is my goal to help change this story by promoting healthy living and prevention strategies in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In my role as the Prevention & Policy Coordinator, I support strategies that improve health outcomes in Native communities with a focus on policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change.
Mabuhay! As a Prevention and Policy Coordinator, I provide technical assistance in policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change solutions to promote chronic disease prevention and health equity. Prior to this role, I served as AICAF’s AmeriCorps VISTA developing AICAF’s survivorship program. I am passionate about health equity, social justice, and decolonizing public health. As a first-generation Filipina-American, I understand the importance of allyship with Indigenous communities and carry this understanding with me through my work. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking FIlipino food, rock climbing, and in the winter, I teach cross country skiing.
My coursework and experiences in public health and women’s and gender studies inspired me to further act on my commitments to advancing anti-poverty and health equity work. In doing so, I am honored to join AICAF as part of the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program. As the lead of survivorship programming, I assess and enhance AICAF’s capacity for sustainably supporting American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) cancer survivors and clinical systems using the wisdom and knowledge gained from Native survivors and the survivorship literature. I also combine efforts with the Cancer Equity team to promote community and clinical engagement in instituting innovative solutions for reducing the incidence and impact of cancer among AI/ANs.
Sheryl Simmons Lawery is from Rochester, New York. She earned her Master’s in Criminal Justice/Public Administration at Columbia Southern University. Sheryl is a 2018 Public Health Associate (PHAP) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) two year program. She serves as a Cancer Equity Coordinator with AICAF’s Cancer Equity Team, working in Community Health Assessment for Population Health Improvement. Sheryl helps foster new and existing relationships with American Indian and Alaska Native communities and organizations to gain support and participation in various research projects.
Dedication to improving health outcomes in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, along with a passion for story telling, has inevitably lead to my role in communications at the American Indian Cancer Foundation. AICAF provides a positive environment full of staff who grind every day to eliminate cancer burdens in Indian Country. As Communications Specialist, I’m able to collaborate with all of our teams, leading the organization’s communications, public relations, marketing, and social media efforts. My background in professional journalism and political science has equipped me with the skills to tell impactful stories about AICAF, its mission, and the AI/AN community.
I am an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and began my career in chronic disease prevention while pursuing an undergraduate degree from Bemidji State University. My experience working in preventative care and primary prevention has been instrumental to my professional growth, and in becoming part of AICAF’s Prevention & Policy Team. My position gives me the opportunity to overcome new challenges in providing technical assistance with various tribal nations, as well as provide expertise in policy, system and environmental (PSE) change solutions.
Greetings! I came to work at the American Indian Cancer Foundation in September 2017 as an Evaluation Coordinator. I chose to work with American Indian and Alaska Native populations because of the wisdom and strong sense of community that resounds in Indian Country. This is a quality of life I admire and wish to see in every community across the nation. Now as a Senior Program Specialist, I hope to promote cancer awareness and increase early detection in communities and clinics through culturally-specific best practices. American Indian and Alaska native communities hold the inherit knowledge and wisdom, and it is the American Indian Cancer Foundation’s passion to highlight those solutions.
Hello! I am a Senior Program Specialist with the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) and joined the organization in March 2018. In my role I support program activities from AICAF’s National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program: Screen Our Circle. This program aims to increase cancer screening rates among urban American Indian and Alaska Native women across the United States. In my free time I enjoy traveling, reading, and spending time on Lake Superior.
Mike Yang is a graphic designer with nearly a decade of combined professional experience in digital and multimedia work. He is a graduate of Augsburg College with a major in political science and a communications minor. He started his career as a multimedia professional working for Spectrum-Interactive Media, a branding and web development firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There, he worked with a talented team to develop branding, marketing strategies, websites, and printed materials for businesses across the country. Since then he has gone on to work for artists, elected officials, churches, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. Outside of work, Yang enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and fitness. He’s a fan of locally crafted beers, good food, better company, some fresh air, a lot of sunshine, and everything about the great outdoors.