What nation/clan/tribal town/etc. are you from?
Enrolled Eastern Shoshone, also Northern Arapaho, from the Wind River Reservation.
How did you get into development?
I began working in technology as a graphic designer for the Dept of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, when I was 20. Fast-forward to 6 years later — I decided to take a break from school to get involved with the 2007 Nevada Democratic primary, as we had just become an early state in the primary process for the first time. After the caucus, I had all intentions of going back to school. However, campaign staff learned that I had some IT background and invited me to a data training camp in Portland. There, I learned more about managing data for a campaign and moved to Denver to be the Colorado Data Manager for Barack Obama. After moving to DC and working as a Data Director for the DNC, I’ve managed data and been a database engineer for campaigns, unions, non-profits and a couple of for-profit organizations. I am a senior political data analyst and have spent the past couple of years as a consultant, advising campaigns and organizations on strategy, technology and funding.
What is it like being a Native in tech?
Honestly, sometimes it is lonely. I have often been the only Native I knew about in so many organizations and places. Simultaneously, it is amazing. I can get on Twitter and follow Natives doing incredible things throughout the country. We all bring unique perspectives to our work and find allies who are fighting the same fights.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
I am most proud of training so many others in data, as well as negotiating salary increases for data staff on campaigns. Our individual work, especially in the political space, is not enough if we don’t bring others along with us.
What projects are you working on now?
I just ended a contract that I worked through the election, so I’m looking for something new. I am currently also working on a business plan to create an organization to train Natives on reservations to work in data, coding and digital fields.
How do you give back to your community?
I recently left my home state of Wyoming. While I was there, I was thankful that I was able to participate in powwows and sweats and be with my family. I believe that my political work everyday strives to be something that helps all Natives through electing candidates that work with us and supporting issues that affect us.
In what ways can Natives in tech do more for their community?
I ask: ‘How am I helping my people?’ on at least a weekly basis. I believe that’s a foundational value of being Native; I’ve seen it throughout the country. We have such strong connections to our people, Mother Earth and each other, which is phenomenal. What a gift. I would look around, wherever you are, and see if there are Nations near you that can use a hand, be it setting up websites or volunteering to cook at feasts.
What would you like to see happen for tribal Nations throughout the US?
One thing that I am personally passionate about is data sovereignty, the idea that each Nation owns and protects its data about its people, where they live, how to get in touch with them and how to motivate them politically. This is a great advantage we have in organizing — the ability to know who and where our people are. And be able to reach out to them to get them involved with tribal, local and national issues and candidates that touch our lives.
What would you tell younger Natives that want to get involved in engineering/development?
You are as equally qualified as your peers. It’s an awesome field to be in, and there’s a awesome community of Natives in Tech out there.
What are your future plans?
Eventually, I would like to be the CTO of a small- to mid-sized organization and start an organization that trains Natives on reservations to work in code, data and digital fields.
Any other things you would like to share?
If you have any interest in political organizing, or how that intersects with technology, please reach out. Politics, be it tribal, local or national, is about human interaction. I am most interested in how political action translates into data and the technology surrounding those conversions.
What is the best way to reach out to you?
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org