Staff

Nick Tilsen, President & CEO, is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation.  Tilsen has over 18 years of experience building place-based innovations that have the ability to inform systems change solutions around climate resiliency, sustainable housing and equitable community development. He founded NDN Collective to scale these place-based solutions while building needed philanthropic, social impact investment, capacity and advocacy infrastructure geared towards building the collective power of Indigenous Peoples. Tilsen has received numerous fellowships and awards from Ashoka, Rockefeller Foundation, Bush Foundation and the Social Impact Award from Claremont-Lincoln University. He has an honorary doctorate degree from Sinte Gleska University.

Kim Pate, NDN Collective Vice President, is a descendant of the Eastern Band Cherokee and Mississippi Choctaw tribes. Pate leads the daily operation of the organization, supports communications and evaluation and plays important strategic and communications roles within NDN Collective.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University and a Juris Doctorate from University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.  Pate is admitted to practice in Nez Perce Tribal Court and California.

Dr. PennElys Droz, NDN Collective Director of Fellowship & Prize, is Anishinaabe/Wyandot from the US-Canadian border. Droz directs the planning, execution and evaluation of the NDN Fellowship & Prize. Droz brings two decades experience in the Indigenous environmental and regenerative Nation building movements to re-develop ecologically, culturally and economically thriving and resilient Native Nations. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Technology and a Master’s degree in Environmental Resource Engineering from Humboldt State University and a PhD in Biocultural Engineering Design, American Indian Studies from University of Arizona.

Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications, is a citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, and Chippewa-Cree of Rocky Boy, Montana. Manning directs NDN Collective’s communications strategy and impact. She also and serves as producer of the NDN Podcast While Indigenous and as editor of the NDN blog. Manning has Bachelor’s degrees in American Indian Studies, Social Science-History, and licensure in Secondary Education. She has a Master’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

Nikki Pieratos, NDN Fund Managing Director, is Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Pieratos is responsible for the leadership, management, and growth of NDN Fund, which provides loans and grants for large-scale Indigenous infrastructure development projects. Pieratos is an accomplished leader in community development finance with nine years of experience. She has a Bachelor’s degree in history and education from Fitchburg State University and a Master’s degree in economics and public policy from the University of Chicago.

Alberta Eagle, Executive Support Manager, is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota. Eagle manages the Rapid City Headquarters, supports the Executive Team, Board of Directors, Finance Team and Advancement Team.  She also coordinates interoffice communications, staff experience, fiscal sponsorships and major event planning. Eagle has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with minors in Management and Marketing from New Mexico State University.

Deanna Lammers, Administrative Associate, is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota. She assists with daily duties at the Rapid City office, manages office procurement and supports the Executive Team, Finance Team and staff as a whole. Lammers has been a legal assistant and brings over a decade of experience empowering youth and has owned her own business. Deanna attended Black Hills State and Oglala Lakota College.

Michael Johnson, Director of Advancement, is a citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota and a relative of the White Earth Nation where his grandfather is a citizen. He leads NDN Collective’s Advancement work and team. Johnson’s work over the last decade has engaged key stakeholders in Indian Country and beyond to create lasting relationships built on respect, reciprocity, impact, and success. Johnson has a has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado Denver. 

Michelle Fox, NDN Partners Managing Director, is an enrolled member of the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana.  With over 15 years of corporate experience, Fox brings an extensive background in strategic and financial management to NDN Collective. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Western Governor’s University, and is pursuing a Juris Doctorate from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

Andrew Bentley, Director of Grantmaking, is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. He manages and leads NDN Collective’s grantmaking efforts. Andrew graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA with a B.A. in Broadcasting, Telecommunications, and Mass Media. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Andrew currently resides in Rapid City, SD with his wife and child.

Canté Heart, NDN Collective Campaign Organizer, is Sicangu Lakota, Winnebago (Ho-Chunk), and a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She is a graduate of Oglala Lakota College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration specializing in Management.

Jade Begay, Creative Director, is Diné and Tesuque Pueblo of New Mexico. Begay leads NDN Collective’s multimedia content development through strategic narrative development and creative content design. Begay has extensive experience as a multimedia producer, filmmaker and communications professional working in non-profit and Indigenous organizations. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video and a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Leadership.

Sarah Pierce, Director of Education Equity, is Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Pierce has 8 years of experience working and advocating for Title VI Indian Education Programs, working at Rapid City Area Schools in South Dakota and at Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a master’s of education degree from Creighton University, and a PK-12 Administrator endorsement from the University of South Dakota. Pierce will lead NDN Collective’s education equity campaign work, expanding opportunities for Native American students to have access to culturally relevant and culturally responsive learning environments.

Billie White, NDN Collective Advancement Coordinator, is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota. White supports the fundraising strategy and manages donor relations. She has nearly three years of nonprofit development experience. White has a Bachelor’s degree from Black Hills State University in Sociology and Human Services, with an emphasis in community service.

Cassandra Begay, NDN Collective Climate Justice Organizer, is Diné of the Black Streak Wood People born for Mexican People clan.  Cassandra brings extensive experience in non-profit and transformational organizing, working across the country to protect ancestral lands and elevate Indigenous voices and issues.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Utah State University.

NDN Collective
NDN Collective

We are unapologetically, unabashedly, NDN. United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future.