NAPLP Alumni Spotlights

What are our NAPLP Alumni doing now?

Randall Reed

Randall ReedAs one of the first scholarship recipients to attend the Native American Political Leadership Program, Randall was walking into a new situation. As an already active member of his tribe – the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians in Alabama – Randall wanted to continue his love for education and politics in Washington, D.C. Entering his senior year at Troy University with an internship already under his belt at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Randall attended NAPLP in the spring of 2006 and interned on Capitol Hill. Upon completion of the program he went to work on a campaign, leading the Republican candidate for a local state House race to victory in both the competitive primary and general election. Since that race, Randall has continued to work for GOP causes, was chosen as the James Madison Fellow for Alabama and was awarded a graduate fellowship grant. He has completed coursework at Georgetown University and plans on finishing a Master’s degree in Secondary Education. He is also an active freelance writer for the politics and government section of his local newspaper, the Call News. Randall recalls his experience with NAPLP as “second to none.”

Marcus Grignon

Before arriving in Washington, D.C., Marcus studied tribal law and sustainable development. He was an active member of his tribe – the Menominee – in Wisconsin, and completed the Native American Political Leadership Program in the spring of 2009. Since finishing the program, Marcus has interned at the Climate Action Network, participated in the Center for Progressive Leadership’s New Leaders Program, and has appeared on his first radio program to discuss youth leadership and the environmental movement. Most recently, Marcus created a non-profit – Citizens for a Sustainable Future – to highlight renewable energy and sustainable development efforts in his own tribal community. Because of that work, Marcus has been awarded a Clinton Global Initiative grant to implement a renewable energy strategy on the Menominee Tribal Regional Transportation System and to visit local middle schools to give students hands-on experience with renewable energy. Marcus’ long-term goal is to make Indian Country the leader in sustainability efforts – to provide a concrete example for the world to follow.  “I learned at NAPLP that my people can lead in a new way,” Marcus said. “I feel confident that I can go back home, with the skills I learned, and influence positive change.”

Jessica Koski

Jessica is a graduate of Michigan Technological University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Management at Yale University. Jessica completed the Native American Political Leadership Program in the spring of 2008, her junior year in college. It was before she attended the program that Jessica reconnected with her tribe – the Ojibwa tribe of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community – and discovered her passion for Native American rights and environmental protection. While at the program, Jessica interned in the Office of Indian Affairs in the United States House of Representatives, and worked on a national lobbying practicum for Indian education legislation. “The program opened many doors for me,” Jessica said. “I witnessed where Native representation is desperately needed and I began picturing different career opportunities that would allow me to serve my tribal community and other Native people.”

Chris Kolerok

Chris, a Calista Alaska Native, completed the Native American Political Leadership Program in the spring of 2008, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Chris came to the program with a Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Alaska at Anchorage and held part-time jobs at local law firms and think tanks throughout college. Confronted with the choice of moving to China to teach English or attend NAPLP, Chris chose the latter and while here interned on Capitol Hill through our partnership with United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office. Chris plans on continuing his work in economics and public policy upon graduation from Harvard, hoping to work in the energy and natural resources sector. “NAPLP helped to show me that citizen action is possible,” Chris said. “I learned that there is a feeling of camaraderie working with Natives from other parts of the country and that together we can make changes that benefit our entire communities.”

Heath Clayton

Heath came to the Native American Political Leadership Program in the spring of 2008 fresh off a coveted internship at the White House. Health’s passion for politics included a stint as campaign manager for the reelection of the Chickasaw Nation Legislator Beth Alexander. As an active member of the Chickasaw Nation from Texas, Heath always wanted to work in the heart of power, Washington, D.C. – but in his own words “could never afford it.” NAPLP’s full scholarship program offered him that opportunity. Heath went on to work for President Bush at the White House after NAPLP. Upon President Obama’s election, Heath left the White House to work for a DC communications firm. He’s recently left his home away from home to obtain a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania after being awarded a Tribal Affairs Fellowship. Heath plans on returning to Washington, D.C. after school to work in tribal education policy. “I got so much out of NAPLP,” Heath said. “I walked away with a greater appreciation for the diversity of Indian Country and I’ll always be thankful for that.”

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