Keynote Speakers & Guests:

Damon Polk






Damon Polk - Keynote Speaker, Tuesday April 30
"Return to the Red Circle Lodge: Traditional Healing & Behavioral Health"

Damon Polk is of the San Carlos Apache, and Quechan (Kwatsan) Indian Nations. He has worked in the areas of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery, Program Development, Early Childhood Development, and Community Health and Community Partnering, Damon services as Traditional Consultant to many native organizations and communities seeking to incorporate native culture as a prevention and healing modality. Damon travels extensively throughout Indian Country participating in various tribal ceremonies and gatherings. Read more


Sandy White Hawk






Sandy White Hawk - Special Guest Panelist, Tuesday April 30
Panelist Discussion after screening of "Blood Memory" Documentary

Battles over blood quantum and ‘best interests’ resurface the untold history of America’s Indian Adoption Era - a time when nearly one-third of children were removed from tribal communities nationwide. As political scrutiny over Indian child welfare intensifies, an adoption survivor helps others find their way home through song and ceremony.
For Sandy White Hawk, the story of America’s Indian Adoption Era is not one of saving children but of destroying tribes and families.  At 18 months, Sandy was removed from her Sicangu Lakota relatives and taken to live with a Christian missionary couple 400 miles away, where her skin color and cultural heritage were rejected.  She grew up void of kinship and familial support, feeling ugly, alone and unworthy of love.  Her adoption, which she later found to be part of a nationwide assimilative movement that targeted American Indian children, defined her and took much of her adult life to overcome. Reconnection with her Lakota community empowered Sandy to help other Adoption Era survivors restore their cultural identity through song and ceremony. Read more


Joseph P. Gone






Dr. Joseph P. Gone - Keynote Speaker, Wednesday May 1
"Evidence-Based Treatment and Cultural Competence in American Indian Behavioral Health: Walking in Two Worlds"

Joseph P. Gone is Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. 

In his interdisciplinary scholarship, Gone examines cultural influences on mental health status, as well as the intersection of evidence-based practice and cultural competence in mental health services. A citizen of the Gros Ventre tribal nation of Montana, he has investigated these issues through collaborative research partnerships in both reservation and urban American Indian communities.
 Read more


Dr. John Ratmeyer - Keynote Speaker, Thursday May 2
"Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Shaping All of Our Lives"

Dr. John Ratmeyer has been a pediatrician at the Gallup Indian Medical Center since 1991, Deputy Chief of Pediatrics since 1992.  He grew up in Chicago and New York City and completed his pediatric training at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH.  He is board-certified in Pediatrics, and is interested in preventing and responding to child abuse & neglect.  He also enjoys long-distance running for health and fitness, and so enjoys caring for athletes.  He has been married to Liliana (a medical lab technologist) for over 30 years, and they have two adult sons, Paul and Glenn,  who are both pursuing medical careers.


  • Carol Colmenero: Carol Colmenero currently works as a Behavioral Health Services Manager for the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.  She provides oversight to the Child and Family/Adult and Family outpatient services in Substance Abuse, General Mental Health, Trauma, individual, family, and group therapy.  She holds a Master Degree of Social Work from Washington University and a Bachelors Degree of Social Work from Arizona State University.  Carol is a licensee associate substance abuse counselor and a licensee masters of social worker.  Additionally, she is trained as an EMDR therapist, TF-CBT, and CPT therapist.
  • Naomi Esparza: Naomi Esparza currently works as a residential treatment center program manager for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.  She holds a Master's degree in Addictions Counseling from Grand Canyon University and a double major bachelors of Arts degree in human services and psychology from Ottawa University. Naomi is a licensed associate substance abuse counselor.
  • Elise Leonard: Dr. Elise Leonard is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 19 years of experience working with Native American patients living on-and off-reservation. She attended medical school at the University of Vermont and completed psychiatry and child psychiatry training at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire.  She has worked for the Indian Health Service in Tuba City, AZ (1990-1996) and then returned to IHS in 2005 after work at Phoenix Children's Hospital.  She has served as President of the Greater Phoenix and Arizona chapters of AACAP child psychiatrists.
  • MacArthur Lucio: LCDR MacArthur E. Lucio, LCSW currently serves as the Social Work Consultant at the I.H.S Phoenix Area Office- Integrated Behavioral Health Program.  He earned his MSW degree from the University of Utah and started his social work career with Indian Health Services at Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, NM. Subsequently, commissioned as a US Public Health Service officer in 2008 and served in various capacities as an administrator and as a clinician.
  • Derek Patton: Mr. Derek Patton holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from the University of Oklahoma and a Master's of Science Degree in Psychology from East Central University.  He is also an MBA degree holder with a specialization in Healthcare Management.  Mr. Patton is the Area Integrated Behavioral Health Division Director within the Office of Health Programs.  He is also a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, and is originally from Norman, Oklahoma.  Mr. Patton's career consists of serving in both clinical and administrative roles throughout the Phoenix Area in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.  He has been employed by IHS within the Phoenix Area for 16 years, with 8 years at the Phoenix Area Office within the Integrated Behavioral Health Department in the Office of Health Programs.  Mr. Patton completed the Executive Leadership Development Program through OPM and the Indian Health Service Mentorship Program through the USDA. Derek also serves on the Pacific Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center (Pacific Southwest ATTC), HHS Region 9 Regional Advisory Board. He is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug counselor in the State of Nevada and he is a nationally certified Master Addiction Counselor through NAADAC.
  • Jon Perez: Captain Jon T. Perez, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with over 25 years of federal behavioral health service ranging from direct care to policy and program management in the United States and abroad, including multiple Joint Force deployments.  His previous federal positions include directing small to large direct service programs in Indian Country, as well as providing national program and policy leadership as the Director of Behavioral Health for the Indian Health Service. He now serves as the Regional Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in HHS Region IX.
  • Sarah Kent: Sarah Kent has been an advocate for social justice for a great part of her creative and professional life. She has worked and volunteered for various community non-profits across the country serving homeless and LGBTQ youth, as well as, creating her own philanthropy projects. She loves coming up with ways to creatively engage and educate the community about social inequity. Her passion for helping others began as a child when she served as a peer mediator in middle school. At Youth Emergency Services in Omaha, NE she addressed the needs of homeless youth as a marketing/volunteer coordinator. In San Francisco, CA she served as a residential leader/counselor at the non-profit, Larkin Street Youth Services. In addition for working at non-profit organizations, Sarah also co-created and directed a non-profit called, "Your Mind is Your Shelter" where she recruited and managed over 20 licensed yoga teachers to volunteer their time and teach yoga to homeless shelters and treatment centers throughout Nebraska and Iowa. For the last 4 years, she has provided guidance to the youth of the greater valley area at Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development and her current role at oneŁnŁten as the Homeless Outreach and Sex Trafficking Liaison.  Sarah is honored to say her life's work is to help homeless youth, and has been in the field for over 10 years; while continuing to find progressive ways to reach the youth and empower them to move forward in a positive direction with their lives.
  • Denise Beagley: Denise Beagley, M.Sc. is the Training and Curricula Development Program Manager at Arizona State University's Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy. She has worked within the behavioral health system since 2002.  Prior to working in Arizona, she completed her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology at Trinity College Dublin.  Denise's work has centered on Criminal Justice and Psychology.  While at Trinity College, her research focused on the Gara Siochana (police force in Ireland) and on working under stress.  She has served as adjunct facility for the Office of the Courts, Arizona Probation since 2005 and has taught several topics, such as Motivational Interviewing, Probation Compassion Fatigue, Understanding Psychiatric Disorders and Hearing Voices.  Denise has over 18 years of experience working in the areas of Co-Occurring Disorders, Psychiatric Disorders, Cultural Competency, Suicide Prevention, Ethical Decision-Making, Motivational Interviewing, Hearing Voices Workshops, Compassion & Correctional Fatigue, Conflict Resolution, Trauma-Informed Care, Verbal De-escalation, Grief, Death & Dying, Time & Stress Management, and is a certified Master Level Trainer for ASAM Criteria, Cultural Competency, and ASIST - Suicide Intervention Model.
  • Buffy Wooten: As Executive Director and Senior Psychologist of Wooten & Associates, PLC, Dr. Wooten’s primary clinical practice is providing individual and group therapy to adults with histories of trauma and abuse. Dr. Wooten has completed intensive training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and has been facilitating DBT Interventions and Training since 2001. She has developed a team of therapists who are pursuing expertise in DBT and implement the protocol according to the standard set forth by its author Marsha Linehan. In addition, Dr. Wooten has worked in the area of substance abuse treatment and evaluation her entire career, including providing direct clinical service in state corrections facilities. She has a wealth of experience with high risk and challenging populations. Dr. Wooten is recognized as an esteemed community advocate and speaker for mental health and mindful living while holding various supporting roles in our community.
  • Thomas Walter: Thomas J. Walter is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe from Northwestern Montana.  He holds a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Wayland Baptist University.  He served as a Substance Abuse Counselor with Desert Visions Youth Wellness Center for 10 years before going into private practice prior to joining the Phoenix Area Office within the Integrated Behavioral Health Department in the Office of Health Programs.  Mr. Walter is an independently licensed Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) in the State of Arizona and also holds an Associate License (LAC) in mental health counseling in Arizona as well.  He has extensive training and experience in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) due in large part to training that he received as a direct result of the MSPI Pilot Project.
  • ShaQuilla Yazzie: ShaQuilla Yazzie, a Planner with the Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services. Ms. Yazzie is a member of the Building Communities Hope (BCOH) Team. Ms.Yazzie assists with the logistical details, organization, and preparation of the BCOH presentation to reduce suicide and substance use disorders.
  • Vera John: Vera John, MA, LPCC, Clinical Director earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico. She is a Clinical Director with the Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services and a Clinical Mental Health Counselor with the state of New Mexico. Ms. John has extensive experience with co-occurring disorders.
  • Dino Haley: Dino Haley serves the Phoenix VA Health Care System as a Social Work Substance Use Disorder Specialist working in the Substance Use Disorder Treatment clinic. Dino originates from the Dine' Nation and provides ceremonial healing practice to the community he serves. Other professional experiences include, servicing as a faculty associate at Arizona State University. Dino completed a graduate research study to conclude the preference for Native American military veterans benefiting from ceremonial healing services treating mental health disorders. Dino provides proficient methods of dual-diagnosis disorder treatment using Native American philosophy and ceremonial practice. Dino served as an independent research contractor with Arizona State University Center of Applied Behavioral Health Policy and assisted in the study of the Native American population exposed to HIV/AIDS and substance use. Dino served three years as an Arizona judical probation officer advocating for improved outcomes by identifying the cultural heritage of Northern Arizona. He utilizes Native American philosophy and knowledge of mental health to bring a unique approach to wellness. He incorporates the sacred fundamental relationship with nature and the universe to behavioral health science to influence a greater understanding of Native American ceremonial philosophy.
  • Lane Shepherd: Lane Shepherd is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. He graduated from The University of Utah with a Master's of Educational Psychology. After graduating he worked as a counselor for a Native American youth treatment center where he gained a love for NA/AN youth and their culture. Lane learned the need for cultural and spiritual components in the therapeutic process. He is the CEO and Clinical Director of the Red Circle Lodge.
  • Breeanne Good Bear: Breeanne Good Bear has worked at The Sacred Heart Center in Eagle Butte, SD for about 3 years holding different positions in The Outreach Department. he is now the Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator at Red Circle Lodge. She has experienced many different forms of trauma all too common in Indian Country and would like to share her healing process using spiritual & cultural practices to help people break the many different cycles of abuse.
  • Kenneth Poocha: Kenneth Poocha is currently the Intergovernmental Tribal Liaison for the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), a postion he has held since January, 2017. He began his career with DCS in 2013 serving as an investigator out of the Prescott office.  He grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and attended the University of Arizona where he earned both his Bachelor of Arts degree n Sociology and his Master of Arts degree in American Indian Studies and held an intership with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
  • Alida Montiel: Alida Montiel is the Health & Human Services Director at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) and a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Her responsibilities since 1990 include providing Tribal Leaders in Arizona, Nevada and Utah information and analysis on Federal and State health policies and budgetary concerns on the American Indian health care system. She serves as the Technical Advisor to the Phoenix Area Representative on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Tribal Technical Advisory Group, is the current chair of the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care (AACIHC) and a member of the Arizona Behavioral Health Planning Councill of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). A new role since January 2019 is to oversee the ITCA Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (CDC) project.
  • Charles Pyle: Charles Pyle was an attorney in Tucson, Arizona for 28 years before being appointed as United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Arizona in June 2001. Judge Pyle maintained his chambers in Tucson, Arizona until he retired in March 2017. In October 2017, Judge Pyle was recalled from retirement and assigned to the federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Arizona, where the overwhelming majority of the criminal cases involve American Indian defendants. Judge Pyle retired again at the end of April, 2018. Judge Pyle co-founded  Second Chance Tucson in October 2013, which works to assist people transitioning from prison back to Pima County. He is an associate member of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association and spoke at NADA's national conference in Austin on March 23, 2019. Judge Pyle also organized the first Ninth Circuit Corrections Summit in Sacramento in November 2015. Judge Pyle is dedicated to providing treatment over incarceration for people caught up in the criminal justice system.
  • Madison Fulton: Madison Fulton, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, works for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. in the Health and Human Services Department as a Health Promotion Specialist. She is of the Blacksheep Clan and born for the Salt People Clan. Her hometown is the Rough Rock community on the Navajo Nation. In December 2015, she earned a master’s degree in American Indian Studies (AIS): Indigenous Rights and Social Justice at Arizona State University. The AIS program’s emphasis of Indigenousness and Tribal Sovereignty created a strong foundation for her advocacy of Indian rights at the Tribal, State, and Federal levels. She pursued a Master’s degree in AIS because she wanted to work for Indian Nations and serve Indian Peoples to create empowered communities through policy development, partnership building, and strategic planning. Her area of expertise is in policy development and case law regarding Tribal criminal jurisdiction, specifically on sexual assault cases, i.e. rape, and domestic violence committed on tribal lands. Her thesis focuses on finding solutions in Indian communities to better respond to sexual assault incidences and establish culturally appropriate care systems for sexual assault victims. She focuses on American Indian sexual assault victims/survivors because she envisions a different approach to helping victims/survivors heal from their sexual assault trauma that is grounded from cultural values and teachings of respect, responsibility, reciprocity, and accountability. Instead of primarily relying on Tribal Justice and Law Enforcement Systems to help individuals impacted by sexual assault, she concentrates on alternative strategies to restore health and wellness as a form of justice. She shares that working for Indian Nations is a very fulfilling profession in the following statement, “I’ve learned, as a health professional, I have a tremendous responsibility to the individuals and communities I work for. As a health professional I am merely a resource and visitor for the individuals and communities I work for. My primary role as a health professional is that I uphold the integrity of the communities I work for by conducting work that will benefit the health and wellness of the community."
  • James "Randy" Webb: Randy Webb is a learning consultant, facilitator and instructional designer with Mercy Care of Arizona Workforce Development, trainer with EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs, trainer-in-training with Child Trauma Academy of the Neurosequential Model of Caregiving, licensed professional counselor in Arizona and licensed mental health counselor in Washington state. His background is in linguistics and Spanish language and he was trained by the Milton H Erickson Foundation in clinical hypnosis and strategic therapies. He enjoys playing soccer, using his Spanish, and feels joy when helping people release the effects of their suffering. He loves to network and promote others' initiatives and volunteers for several organizations, including Foster Arizona and ASA Now, whose goals are helping foster-adoptive-kinship families help children reach their potentials.