The Opportunity Project Demo Week 2020 The Opportunity Project Demo Week 2020
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Native Voices: What Do We Need To Hear? How Technology, Data and Government Can Best Serve Tribal Communities

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Jacob Crane (Tsuut'ina Nation)
SLC Air Protectors, Executive Director

Jacob is a citizen of the Tsuut'ina Nation, located in the province of Alberta, Canada. He is currently the Executive Director for the SLC Air Protectors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Indigenous people in the State of Utah, and is the Board Treasurer for the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake. As a Social Entrepreneur, Jacob enjoys building startup companies that positively impact Native communities. Like many, he wishes to see more conscious tribal investment for future generations, that also creates platforms to build stronger robust Indigenous economies.

In 2019, Jacob was a recipient of the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Billy Mills Dreamstarter Entrepreneur grant for his work with his media production company, The Arrow's Journey, which uplifts the stories of successful Indigenous youth. He was also a part of the Renewing Indigenous Economies Cohort with the Hoover Institute at Stanford University this past summer.

Geoffrey Blackwell (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Omaha, and Muscogee Creek)
AMERIND, Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel

Mr. Blackwell is the executive supervisor of AMERIND’s Legal, Finance, IT, HR, Corporate Communications, and Critical Infrastructure teams.  He is a recognized expert in tribal corporate development and economic diversification, and communications infrastructure deployment. Mr. Blackwell is very active in Federal-Tribal policy advocacy.  He has testified before Congress on seven occasions, and in 2020 before the US Commission on Civil Rights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on regions of Indian Country that lack robust broadband.  Mr. Blackwell is the former founding Chief of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC-ONAP), where he spent two separate terms of duty.  During his first term, he became the first enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe to ever work at the FCC.  He now serves in an inter-Tribal government leader capacity as the Co-Chair of the Economic, Finance, & Community Development Committee and the Co-Chair of the Telecom and Technology Subcommittee of the National Congress of American Indians.  Mr. Blackwell is also the Vice President of the Board of Tribal Advisors for the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University, and the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Native Public Media.  He has served on the Boards of the National Small Business Association, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and the Acoma Business Enterprises of Pueblo of Acoma.  He has also  represented U.S. Tribal Nations internationally at UN, IGF, ITU, ICANN, and Internet Society conventions.  Between his terms of federal service, he worked as a Corporate Director at Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc.  Mr. Blackwell is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law.  Raised in Oklahoma and New Mexico, he comes from a family dedicated to tribal and federal service.  He is Chickasaw, Choctaw, Omaha, and Muscogee Creek.

Maria Howeth (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)
eCivis, Sr. Customer Success Manager and Tribal Specialist

Maria comes from the tribal government sector and is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Prior to eCivis, Maria was the Director of Project Support at the Chickasaw Nation in Ada, Oklahoma. In her capacity at the tribe, she worked in multiple financial and compliance areas and was appointed director of project support in the grants department. She is proud to be a Certified Grant Management Specialist (CGMS) from the National Grants Management Association (NGMA) where she serves as Secretary on the board of directors. Maria brings expert knowledge of grants and tribal government and views all grants awarded to tribes as opportunities to provide better services, help further the quality of life, and protect tribal culture for the tribal members and their communities.

Maria holds a master’s in business administration from Southern Nazarene University and a bachelor’s in business administration from East Central University . She also has training in Tribal Law from Oklahoma City University. 

An intimate discussion with inspiring and dynamic leaders from tribal communities on their needs during exceptionally challenging times, the  work currently being done by tribal organizations,  and the most effective and appropriate ways to create external partnerships that ultimately put native communities’ well-being at the center of it all.  Tune in for a rare opportunity to hear from our native leaders, and the wisdom, concerns and suggestions they have to share. Featuring speakers from Choctaw Nation, Tsuut'ina Nation, and Muscogee (Creek) Nation.