Wisconsin’s 33 Most Influential Native American Leaders for 2023, Part 3


    This is the third in a five-part series. Part one is here and part two is here.

    Dr. Annie Jones, an enrolled member of the Menominee Nation, is a professor, organization development and Tribal Nations specialist with UW-Madison’s Division of Extension. She is also affiliate faculty with the departments of American Indian Studies and Community and Environmental Sociology. Annie has worked with Extension for nearly 25 years serving in a variety of capacities including associate dean, special assistant to the dean for strategic directions and as a community development educator based in Kenosha County. Annie specializes in participatory and community-based action research and co-leads UW-Madison’s Native Nations UW effort. Annie holds a Ph.D. in human and organizational systems, a master of arts in human development and a graduate certificate in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement from Fielding Graduate University; a master of science in curriculum and instruction-technology enhanced education from UW-Whitewater; and a bachelor of arts in geography and social science with an emphasis in history from Carthage College.

    Fern Orie is the Chief Programs Officer Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships for the Oweesta Corporation. A member of the Oneida Nation, she previously served as founding CEO of the certified Native community development financial institution (CDFI) Wisconsin Native Loan Fund, a statewide housing and consumer revolving loan fund. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the Native housing field. Prior to her community and economic development work, she was in the Indian gaming sector for 10 years. She is the Chairperson of the Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance and has served on the Native CDFI Network Board of Directors as the Vice Chair and was the Chairperson for the Membership Committee. In addition, Ms. Orie serves on the Board of Directors and Loan Committee of Bay Bank, a tribally-owned bank. She is a member of the Woodland Indian Arts Board and also serves on the Forward Community Investments New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Board. Orie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lakeland University and received certification as an Economic Development Finance Professional (E.D.F.P) from the National Development Council.

    Marlon Skenandore is manager of the Oneida Emergency Food Pantry, where he has served since shortly after it opened in 2017. At the beginning, it served 12 people per day; now, it serves more than 700 people a month and receives around 200,000 pounds of food donations a year from many sources. He has recently sealed a deal with two Oneida farmers, setting up purchase orders for up to $2,000 for deliveries of wild rice, spinach, beams, radishes, eggplant, cucumbers, maple-sugared pecans, and more. He is also chair of the Oneida Youth Leadership Institute and a youth lacrosse coach. He earned an associate’s degree at the College of the Menominee Nation and went on to work in sales and landscaping before taking the helm at the food pantry.

    Suzette Brewer is executive director of Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW), an organization dedicated to performing regional, national and global outreach to promote Wisconsin Tribal tourism and boost Tribal economies within the state. She has spent much of her career as a journalist, writing extensively on the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Supreme Court, Native voting rights, environmental issues on Indian reservations, the opioid crisis, and violence against Native women and children. Her work has appeared in Indian Country Today, Rewire, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, and many others. Her published books include “Real Indians: Portraits of Contemporary Native Americans and America’s Tribal Colleges” and “Sovereign: An Oral History of Indian Gaming in America.” Her broadcast work includes “A Broken Trust: Sexual Assault and Justice on Tribal Lands” (2019) for Scripps News Service in Washington, D.C., which won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism grand prize for reporting on human rights and social Justice. Brewer is the 2015 recipient of the Richard LaCourse-Gannett Foundation Al Neuharth Investigative Journalism Award for her work on the Indian Child Welfare Act, and a 2018 John Jay/Tow Juvenile Justice Reporting Fellow. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation, originally from Stilwell, Oklahoma.

    Kelly Jackson, a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band, is a singer, songwriter, philanthropist and tribal advocate. Her music has gained admiration for its unique flare and remarkable ability to inspire and empower listeners. She composes rhythms that compliment her native roots and lyrical messages that invoke healing, self-empowerment and cultural reflection. Her debut album, Spirit of a Woman, earned a Native American Music Award for best Americana Album of the Year. Her second album, Renditions of the Soul, also received international recognition. She is also the co-founder of Spirit of a Woman, a nonprofit organization designed to provide personal and professional development for women and girls. In 2022, she created a music video for her song Don’t Speak to raise awareness of the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Along with Native American Center for Health Professions director Danielle Yancey,  Kelly launched Indigenous Girls Rock Camp, an empowerment music camp for girls ages 8-18 with unique programming that combines music education, performance and leadership development under the direction of professional female music instructors. 

    Sommer Drake works at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education, serving as program coordinator for the Office of Indian Education Professional Development Grant and supports the Early Childhood and American Indian Studies Program as an adjunct instruct. Previously, Sommer worked as an Elementary Teacher for the Milwaukee Public School District. She is vice chair of the board of the Indian Community School in Franklin.

    Shannon Metoxen is vice president of construction firm JP Cullen, overseeing its Milwaukee division. He’s been with the company for nearly 20 years, working his way up from an estimator to project manager to division manager. Last year, he was appointed to the Associated General Contractors of America Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. A member of the Oneida Nation, he has been involved with and served as an advisor to the Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (BIG STEP), which provides tutoring and pre-apprenticeship programming to increase diversity within the skilled trades. He was appointed to the City of Milwaukee’s Residential Preference Program Commission to align public policy objectives on publicly funded development to improve the hiring and retention of residents on construction projects. At JP Cullen, he had a hand in building and executing a mentor-protégé program which identifies diverse contractors in the Milwaukee area and works with them on all aspects of their business depending on what they need. He earned a degree in industrial technology from UW-Platteville, where he was also a second-team all-conference kicker for the Pioneers football team.

    Part four coming tomorrow!