Staff and Circle Keepers (Board of Directors)
Nicole Matthews: Executive Director
White Earth Ojibwe
Nicole Matthews is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and is the Executive Director for Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition. Nicole was hired in March 2002 as the Coalition Coordinator after funding was made available to establish Tribal Coalitions to address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in Indian Country.
Prior to her employment with the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition, she worked in Mille Lacs County, Minnesota as the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator for Pearl Crisis Center. Nicole Matthews has spoken at numerous conferences on both the statewide and national levels regarding sexual violence and domestic assault. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State University in Applied Psychology including a minor in Human Relations and Multicultural Education.
Nicole is also the proud mother of three beautiful children; Jazmin, Kiora, and Kionte. They give her the strength and motivation to continue working to end violence perpetrated against women and children.
Guadalupe Lopez: TA / Training Coordinator
Leech Lake Ojibwe
Guadalupe Lopez is a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and has been employed for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition since 2007. She has extensive experience in advocacy for American Indian women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence. Guadalupe is known for her expertise in training and presenting on a wide variety of issues surrounding sexual violence of American Indian and Alaska Native women. She was one of the culturally-specific TA providers for the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative through the Office of Violence Against Women, and has been a faculty member for Praxis International’s Advocacy Learning Center. She also volunteered as a sexual assault advocate for Sexual Offence Services of Ramsey County for eight years. In addition, Guadalupe was also one of five researchers who interviewed 105 Native women used in prostitution and trafficking for MIWSAC's report: Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota. Guadalupe Currently provides Technical Assistance to over 30 tribes under the Tribal Sexual Assault Services Program for the Office on Violence Against Woman.
Cristine Davidson: Business and Development Specialist
White Earth Anishinaabe
Cristine is a survivor of multiple incidents of sexual violence, as well as long-term child sexual abuse by a self-proclaimed medicine man. To her, sexual violence is rooted in oppression and colonization that we resist and challenge by raising our collective voices. Addressing sexual violence in a community way- including our Youth, Elders, Menfolk, and Allies- we are breaking the silence in a most powerful and traditional way. By restoring traditional Native life ways, holding each other accountable as Relatives, and strategizing as a collective, her dream is that we can all live free from violence.
Cristine grew up in Red Lake, Minnesota, served four years in the Marine Corps, and is in her 7th year with MIWSAC. She recently moved to her home reservation in White Earth, Minnesota, and she is happiest out in the woods; at Sugar Bush making maple syrup, on the lake harvesting wild rice, picking berries, hauling wood, or anything involving her amazing family.
Debbie Poitra: Executive Assistant
Bad River Band of Ojibwe
Like many others she is a survivor of child sexual abuse. As a MIWSAC member, she comes to us with a strong Administrative background, experience that will allow staff to focus on the education and training of All Our Relations, Mainstream, and Community members as we strive to end sexual violence. Prior to her employment with MIWSAC, she worked for Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center for the Nokomis Endaad Native Women’s Outpatient Care Program. She is a mother of 4 beautiful children and 4 amazing grandchildren, her motivation to ending sexual violence. In Debbie’s personal time she enjoys spending much of her time with her grandchildren, who bring her great joy in all that they do. Together they love to cook, attend pow-wows, camp, garden, be outdoors and learning & practicing Anishinaabe teachings.
Amanda Watson: National Technical Assistance Programs Trainer/Facilitator
Kanaka Maoli of Oahu,Hawii
She has been working with MIWSAC since May 2015 as the Membership and Outreach Coordinator. Amanda has previously worked as an advocate with university, county, and nation-wide advocacy organizations serving survivors of sexual violence. She also brings experience training and facilitating on how sexual violence impacts our Two Spirit and LGBTQ relatives.
Linda Thompson: Membership and Outreach Coordinator
Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe
Originally from Minnesota, Linda Thompson moved to North Dakota in 1995, living within the boundaries of the Spirit Lake Tribe. In 1997, she started the Spirit Lake Victim Assistance Program. Successfully creating services and establishing relationships across the state, she secured funding to employ five others to extend services to victims of violent crime. In 2007, Linda and two other program directors of Tribally based victim service programs founded a Tribal Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Coalition. Members currently include representation from The Spirit Lake Tribe, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, Standing Rock Tribe, Trenton Indian Service Area, and the Native urban population in Bismarck. First Nations Women’s Alliance (FNWA) is one of 19 Tribal Coalitions across the Nation.
In 2008, Linda was hired to serve as FNWA’s first Executive Director. She worked many years creating, building and maintaining relationships which established a framework for providing victim services to Native people.
In 2016, feeling the “time was right to come home,” she had the opportunity to apply for a position with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC). She applied and was hired in August.
Currently she is working as the “Membership & Outreach Coordinator” for MIWSAC.
In addition to providing technical assistance to Tribal domestic violence/sexual assault programs, and providing education and training opportunities, Linda is a participant in the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force.
Linda remains committed to a deep and lasting involvement with advocating for Native people and Native programs addressing critical issues in Tribal communities. She is engaged on local, state, and national levels. It is a role that is both challenging and rewarding.
Comanche Fairbanks: Media & Community Specialist
Red Lake Band of Ojibwe
Comanche has been working closely with both youth and adults in communities of color. He has geared his work towards helping those who have experienced a life of poverty, violence and substance abuse to begin the process of healing. He spent years with local organizations, facilitating self-empowerment classes and workshops, and making thousands of personal connections through street recruitment, facilitating youth groups that focused on various empowerments of self; self-worth, leadership, non-violence, entrepreneurship, public speaking, culture, spirituality, healing, being proactive, and healthy lifestyles. In 2010, he started his own personal consulting business, which brings together all of the experience he has gained, doing trainings for all, whether they are non-profit organizations, businesses, community programs or youth groups. He also spends his time creating educational videos that inspire those who watch them to think about sexual violence, domestic violence, healing our communities, etc.
ShielaM. Guthmann: Accountant
Circle Keepers (Board of Directors):
To reflect our tribal values, we refer to our governing body as the Circle Keepers. To ensure the needs of the organization are met, tasks have been delegated and reflect the functions of a traditional Board of Directors. Major decisions are made collectively to reflect the universal tribal value of being inclusive and for the benefit of all tribal members, reservation, rural or urban, in the State of Minnesota, regardless of tribal affiliation. Our By-Laws require that the leadership of the Board of Directors consist of American Indian and/or Alaska Native women. The Circle Keepers shall consist of no more than ten and no less than five members.
MIWSAC has a strong sisterhood within the coalition and strives to empower and support one another in the work to end sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and children.
MIWSAC strives to incorporate our culture and spirituality into everything we do, including our internal policies and the work we do within the community.
Sarah Curtiss, Keeper of Traditional Ways
Rose Kramer, Circle Keeper, Keeper of Records
Bridget Saice-Childs, Keeper of Finances
Arlene Downwind White, Circle Keeper
Esther Humphrey, Circle Keeper
Marcia Kitto, Circle Keeper
Lorraine White, Circle Keeper
Kateri O'Keefe, Circle Keeper
Marcy Hart, Circle Keeper
Rene Ann Goodrich, Circle Keeper