Erik Stegman, Carry the Kettle First Nation (Assiniboine), is Executive Director at the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. Before joining the CNAY team, Erik led field outreach and advocacy for the Poverty to Prosperity program at the Center for American Progress. Before American Progress, he served as majority Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs under the leadership of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (HI). He was an expert on a wide range of policy issues affecting tribal governments including economic development, law enforcement, violence against women, tax, education, and telecommunications. In that role, he also led the development of the Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act, which was signed into law as part of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013. Before joining the Senate, Erik was appointed in 2011 to serve as Policy Advisor to Assistant Deputy Secretary Kevin Jennings at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. During his time in the administration, he led an intra-agency working group on American Indian policy development. He began his career in Washington, D.C. at the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center.
Erik holds a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, an M.A. in American Indian Studies from UCLA’s Graduate Division, and a B.A. from Whittier College.
Josie Raphaelito is a Program Manager for the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. Josie graduated with a Master's Degree in Public Health from The George Washington University. Her Master's thesis focused on a policy initiative, aimed to increase access to mental health services through workforce development strategies, for the Indian Health Service. Suicide prevention in Indian Country is an area of true passion for Josie.
Prior to graduate school, she studied Athletic Training at the University of New England in Maine. While living in DC Josie has interned at both the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Health Board. Other experience includes time at the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Josie grew up on the Ramah Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.
In 2012, Josie was recognized by the National Council of Urban Indian Health with their 2012 Impact Award and was also selected as a recipient of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development's prestigious "Native American 40 Under 40" award.
Ryan Ward is a Senior Program Associate for the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute. Ryan grew up in Oregon and is an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Tribe of Indians in Washington State. He is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law.
During law school, Ryan worked at the Oregon Supreme Court and then later at the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in the DC office. While at NARF, Ryan worked on issues ranging from Indian water rights to fee-to-trust land transactions, and also on NARF's Tribal Supreme Court Project.
Prior to law school, he studied the History of American Indian Policy at Willamette University. While at Willamette, he volunteered at Chemawa Indian School as a mentor/tutor to Native youth from all over the country. Between his undergraduate studies and law school, Ryan worked as a reading instructor at an elementary school in Salem, Oregon and as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Hawaii.
Amber Richardson serves as Senior Program Coordinator for the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. Amber graduated from Duke University in 2013 as a Gates Millennium Scholar with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. While earning her undergraduate degree, Amber served as President of the Duke Native American Student Alliance.
Amber grew up in Hollister, North Carolina, and is an enrolled member of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe. She has represented and contributed to her tribal community by serving on the executive council of the North Carolina Native American Youth Organization (NCNAYO), working for a youth grant-writing program called North Carolina Giving Indians Volunteer Experience (NCGIVE), interning at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Enrollment Office and travelling as a fancy shawl dancer on the powwow trail. In 2007, Amber was awarded the Joseph Richardson Outstanding Indian Student Award for her commitment to academic excellence.
Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Amber worked with the B.O.O.S.T. Program (Building Opportunities and Overtures in Science and Technology) to increase access to mentorship and STEM opportunities for minority students in Durham, North Carolina. Amber’s love for serving minority communities and passion for supporting the representation and development of American Indian youth led her to the Center for Native American Youth.