Wisdom Staff Members

Wisdom staff have more than three decades of experience

Wisdom staff have more than three decades of educational, project management and oversight experience designing, developing, funding and managing multi-year, multi-partner, culturally-responsive education programs with Native American adults and youth. This includes Native American adult interns completing the Wisdom Workforce Development Internship. Wisdom has accomplished projects with federal agencies since 2002, including National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Park Service. Established Wisdom staff who will coordinate this project include:

Teresa Montana

M. Teresa Montana

Executive Director (Eastern Cherokee- Paint Clan)

Executive Director for Wisdom of the Elders, Inc, & Manager for Wisdom Workforce Development, LLC. Joined Wisdom in July 2018-2019 as Executive Assistant. Previous engagement with Wisdom was in 2013-14, assisted in the development of the Discovering Our Stories- Historical Trauma Curriculum.

US Army Veteran/Medic – former Nurse.
Alumni include: Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR.
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR.
Washington State University, Vancouver.
***Focus Areas- Anthropology, History, Social Sciences, Humanities.
Certifications in Professional Mediation & Conflict Management, Professional Development & Business Entrepreneurship.
Former Assistant Director/then Director for the Indian Education Title VII (now Title VI) Vancouver, Evergreen & Battleground, WA. School Districts
****Currently in collaboration with District Superintendents to reinstate Title VI program for the Education Service District 112 which now includes 30 school districts.

Current Board Memberships:
Washington State University, Vancouver- Native American Advisory Board
Center for Tribal Nations/OMSI- Advisory Committee
Kimi Wa Foundation- Board Member
ESD 112- Title VI- Advisory Committee
Previous- Vancouver Historical Museum

Get in Touch

teresa@wisdomoftheelders.org

Tim Keenan Burgess

Multimedia Program Director (Paiute, Shoshone) 

Tim has worked for Wisdom of the Elders since 2016 and is Co-Director/Producer of their ongoing documentary film series and provides training for emerging Native peer mentors. He is the writer/Producer of Wisdom’s TV show and received degrees in Multimedia and Video Production from Portland Community College. He’s served as Associate Producer for The Learning Channel; as well as a myriad of other positions on numerous short & feature films, commercials and TV shows. He was the official photographer for the Portland Or. Indigenous Film Festival “One Flaming Arrow”. He also serves as the Co-Grants Manager at Wisdom.

He co-directed and produced the documentary “Native Wisdom- the Peoples of Eastern Oregon” which won a Special Jury Award at the Bend Film Festival and was nominated for best documentary at the 45th annual American Indian Film Festival, as well as screening at numerous other film festivals and Tribal gatherings, and also has aired on OPB plus.

Tim is a multi-disciplined artist, working primarily in video/film, photography, painting and music. He has documented the underground music scene in Portland for many years and has directed music videos for Uada, Bewitcher, and Kunu Bearchum among others, and had his photography featured in numerous magazines and on many albums/CD’s/etc.

Get in Touch

tim@wisdomoftheelders.org

Maz Bennett

Maz Bennett

Operations Coordinator

I studied biology and zoology at Washington State University. I’m currently studying landscape design. I previously ran non-profit youth-focused residential programs throughout the Northwest in environmental education, leadership, and recreation. My priorities were creating room for community building, personal growth, and staff development. I love playing in the water, reading on the beach, splashing in a creek, and puttering in my garden.

For any questions regarding our ITEK programs and WWD crew please contact me here “maz@wisdomoftheelders.org

Davineekaht-White-Elk Siksika Nation

Davineekaht White Elk

Environmental Instructor (Siksika Nation) 

Hello relatives, my name is Davineekaht White Elk. I use any/all pronouns. On my father/grandfather’s side, I’m an enrolled member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, Canada, from the Blackfoot Confederacy. On my father/grandmother’s side, I’m Bitterroot Salish from the Flathead Nation in western Montana. On my mother/grandmother’s side, I’m Northern Ute of the Uncompahgre band from Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah. On my Mother’s/grandfather’s side, I’m part of the Carrizo/Comecrudo tribe along the South Texas Rio Grande River. They are not a federally recognized tribe in the United States and are fighting for recognition.

I was born and raised in Portland and grew up in the native community. Most of my Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITEK) came from teachings from my ceremonial community, learning from my family, elders, and community members. I have cultural art skills, including beading jewelry, sewing/ regalia, hide scraping, leather work, medicine bundles, and tea/slave making. I like to be creative and open to learning new skills. I attend Portland State University (PSU), earning a bachelor of science degree, double majoring in Indigenous Nations Studies and Environmental Science, and a certificate in Indigenous Traditional Ecology Cultural Knowledge (ITECK).

I’m a part of UISHE, the United Indigenous Students in Higher Education at PSU, as their social media manager. I serve on the Portland Urban Forest Plan Community Advisory Committee and Metro Equity Advisory Committee. I have three years of experience in the environmental education field at the Oregon Zoo. 2017, I graduated from the Center for Diversity and Environment Leadership Program. I have seven years of experience working with the Portland Native American Community at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in their Youth Education Services. I enjoy being outside with my partner and our little Chihuahua/Pomeranian dog, Sunny, and spending time with loved ones.

davineekaht@wisdomoftheelders.org

Wisdom Work Force

Bruce Amick II:

Workforce Crew Leader (Blackfoot Nation/Blood tribes Canada)

Bruce started out as an intern with Wisdom’s Workforce Development program, became a crew member with the LLC, and became the Workforce Crew leader in 2020. Bruce manages Wisdom’s work crews and worksites in the field and collaborates with a myriad of partners and Portland area organizations, overseeing projects and ensuring crew safety. He also conducts hands-on training.

Get in Touch
bruce@wisdomoftheelders.org

Karrie Young

Karrie Young

Green Workforce Assistant (Muscogee Creek Nation)

Karrie Young was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma. Besides her work at WOTE she also provides care for Native American Elders and works for the Portland Indigenous MarketPlace. She is a Native Flute Player, Mother, Grandmother, and Great- Great Auntie. She is currently seeking certification to become a Forest Therapy Guide.

Get in Touch
karrie@wisdomoftheelders.org

Dawn Lowe

Dawn Lowe

ITEK Education Coordinator (Hawaiian, Apache, Cherokee, and Mohawk) 

Dawn is the ITEK Instructor for Wisdom Workforce Development interns. She was an original member of the first Wisdom Workforce Development LLC team in 2015 which collected and processed Native seeds for Metro’s Native Plant Center. She provides environmental instruction and habitat restoration lesson plans which integrate Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK). She is a gifted herbalist with knowledge of the gifts of Native plant species as well as invasive species. She also strives to develop and share herbal remedies and traditional herbal arts using Native plants.

Get in Touch

dawn@wisdomoftheelders.org

Jae Viles

Jae Viles-Erdelt

Crew Lead (Chinook Indian Nation, Confederated Tribes Of Siletz Indians) 

Jae is a descendant of the Joshua People Of the Rogue River, the Sixes People of the Sixes River, and the Pillar Rock Chinook People of the Columbia River. He was born and raised in the Willamette Valley gathering beargrass, spruce root, cedar bark, hazel, nettles, mussels, crab, fish, mushrooms, huckleberries, and camas. Creating relationships with these plants, and medicines has had a significant positive impact on his priorities and how he navigates the world and is proud to have been working in Ecocultural restoration for the past four years in the Willamette Valley working to give back to a landscape that has given him so much.

He’s done a wide range of jobs within the umbrella of restoration including teaching ITEK to Indigenous youth, running a tractor on a field of scotchbroom on a military base, seeding riparian zones, but mostly Jae has worked in cultural and prescribed fire. He is a part of an Intertribal cultural/prescribed fire crew called the Wagon Burners. As a Wagon Burner he has been a part of several reintroductions of fire with Tribal Communities. Jae sees fire as a tool that has been used since time immemorial to tend these lands and is so excited about the prospect of burning with Wisdom of the Elders in Portland.

Jae is currently the workforce Crew Leader, and working to start a prescribed/cultural fire program within the organization. Jae believes wholeheartedly that the solution to climate change and the wildfire epidemic is by giving Indigenous people the ability to tend and burn their homelands in the same way that they have since time immemorial.

When not burning, or brush cutting Jae likes to cook, play basketball, and go to estate sales with his Mom, and Grammy.

Get in Touch

jae@wisdomoftheelders.org

Staff Member Damien Cross

Karina Ceron

Social Media Coordinator (Taíno)

Karina is Wisdom’s social media manager. She has been with Wisdom through several years of projects and internships, and assists Wisdom’s fundraising and Give Guide campaigns. She has a degree in Anthropology focused in Environmental Studies, and a passion for ethnobotany, ecology, paleontology. Currently she works with the New York Public Library while maintaining her finger on the pulse of Wisdom’s partnerships and goings-on in the Northwest.

Get in Touch

karina@wisdomoftheelders.org

Sha Malla Tu

Sha Malla Tu Daugherty

Operations Manager(CHOCTAW AND CHEROKEE) 

Sha Malla Tu was hired in August of 2022 to support Executive Director Teresa Montana as Executive Assistant. She has since then come in as the Office Administrator and joined Wisdom’s grants team. Sha Malla Tu has found her place in Wisdom, keeping everyone connected and being a part of Wisdom’s expanding. Sha Malla Tu had management and administrative experience prior to working with Wisdom.

For any questions regarding Multimedia and communications please contact me here shamallatu@wisdomoftheelders.org

KJ Moore

KJ Moore

Multimedia

KJ Moore is a multi-disciplinary artist who has worked in the Pacific Northwest for over a decade with the elderly and disabled community.  Their primary focus is storytelling through documentary work, showcasing local talent and unheard stories. A graduate of Open Signal’s producing, cinematography, and editing classes and Portland Community College’s Video Production program, they are thrilled to be working alongside the generous staff of Wisdom of the Elders.

Get in Touch

kj@wisdomoftheelders.org

Staff Member Damien Cross

Damien Cross

Director of Web Development & Strategic Communications

Damien started with Wisdom as a volunteer to help manage and redesign their website through a transitional period and in 2021 started working as the Web Department Coordinator. In 2022 Damien transitioned into Director of Strategic Communications where he currently works with a variety of departments on various projects including IT, Office Communications, Technology Training, Multimedia, Web Development, Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Email Administration, and Newsletters.

He recently participated in the Open Signal 2022 Summer Cohort and has graduated from the program with skills in film editing, producing, and cinematography and will help with Wisdom’s new multimedia internship, productions, and upcoming films. His passion for community, multimedia, storytelling, and blogging led him to the organization and has fueled his work at Wisdom of the Elders.

Get in Touch

damien@wisdomoftheelders.org