Dr. Christie M. Poitra

Dr. Christie M. Poitra is the Interim Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Native American Institute (NAI). Dr. Poitra is Turtle Mountain Chippewa (Pembina Ojibwa), with family ties to Little Shell. She is also a first-generation college graduate and Latina. She is an alumna of Berkeley, UCLA and MSU—and holds a doctorate in education. Dr. Poitra is an affiliate faculty member in the MSU American Indian & Indigenous Studies program, and core faculty in the MSU Gender Center for Global Context. She is also an affiliate in the MSU Bio/Computational Evolution in Action Consortium.

Dr. Poitra is a scholar of Indigenous education policy and practice. Her research and service interests are defined by how policy contexts affect Indigenous education experiences—through institutional partnerships and instructional leadership. Dr. Poitra has received over a million dollars in grant funding and is the recipient of the MSU Distinguished Community Partnership Award, and MSU Excellence in Diversity Award. Prior to working in higher education, Dr. Poitra was an elementary teacher in a reservation public school, and served as a consultant for the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Angela Kolonich

Dr. Angela Kolonich is the Director of Professional Learning for the Next Generation Project-Based Learning (NextGenPBL) initiative in the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University. Angela is of mixed European/Anishinaabe ancestry, Giigoon Nindoodem, (Fish clan), originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and connected at Miskwaabekong (Red Cliff) in Northern Wisconsin.

She has over 15 years of experience teaching and working in urban schools and maintains a research focus on fostering equitable science learning environments. Currently, Angela develops and facilitates sustained, teacher professional learning programs in school districts shifting to the Next Generation Science Standards, including the Detroit Public Schools Community District, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Session topics include leveraging student funds-of-knowledge to make sense of the natural world, and positioning students as the generators of their own science knowledge. Angela’s research interests are in science teacher learning, equity in science, and Indigenous science knowledge.

Dr. Wendy F. Smythe

Dr. Wendy F. Smythe is an Alaska Native Haida from Hydaburg, Alaska. Her Haida name is K’ah Skaahluwaa (Laughing Lady), from the Xáadas (Haida) tribe. She is Ts’aak’ (Eagle) moiety of the Sdast’ aas (Fish egg house) clan. Dr. Smythe is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, in the Departments of American Indian Studies and Earth and Environmental Sciences. She is a geoscientist whose research focus is on examining microbial diversity, biogeochemistry, and mineralogy of metalliferous groundwater and marine ecosystems from deep-sea hydrothermal volcanoes to hydrothermal springs in Southeast Alaska and Yellowstone National Park.

She has had the honor of partnering with her tribal community over the last decade
as the Director of the Geoscience Education Program, working to couple STEM disciplines with Traditional Knowledge in K-12 education by incorporating language and cultural values. She serves on the board of directors for the Xáadas Kil Kuyaáas Foundation.

Dr. Quentin Tyler

Dr. Quentin Tyler is the Associate Dean and Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University (MSU). As Associate Dean and Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADDEI), Dr. Tyler provides leadership for infusing diversity, equity and inclusion principles through all areas of the CANR. Dr. Tyler very effectively focuses on creating a more multiculturally centered environment for faculty, staff and students within CANR, AgBioResearch, and the MSU Extension; and networks with partners across MSU. His contributions and collegial spirit are highly valued by administrators, faculty, staff and students. (In 2021, Tyler was also named director of MSU Extension.)

Prior to MSU, Dr. Tyler spent over 15 years in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, serving previously in the role of Assistant Dean and Director for Diversity at the University of Kentucky College Of Agriculture. Dr. Tyler was notably the 2015-2016 National Professional President of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) and currently serves as the National MANRRS Advisory Board Chair. Over the last decade, he has received a plethora of recognitions for his work with students and in diversity and inclusion as the National MANRRS Advisor of the Year, a Tri State Diversity Champion, University of Kentucky Inclusive Excellence Awardee and as a Game Changer by Workforce Magazine in the area of workforce management.