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StrongHearts Native Helpline Announces New Board of Directors

by StrongHearts Native Helpline

Following StrongHearts Native Helpline’s historic launch as the first Native American and Alaska Native organization of its kind, StrongHearts is pleased to introduce its four new Board of Directors: Lenny Hayes, Tami Truett Jerue, Caroline LaPorte and Gwendolyn Packard.

As the first 24/7 national domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans, StrongHearts board members will work together to strengthen the organization’s mission of restoring power to Native Americans impacted by intimate partner violence by weaving together a braid of safety, sovereignty and support. By offering culturally-appropriate peer support, crisis intervention and referrals to Native-centered services StrongHearts envisions a return to traditional lifeways where relatives are safe, violence is eradicated and sacredness is restored.

“Establishing our board of directors as a new non-profit organization is an exciting step for StrongHearts Native Helpline,” said Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) director, StrongHearts Native Helpline.

Caroline Laporte, StrongHearts Board of Directors Chairperson, descendent of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is an Associate Judge for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She is an attorney/Judicial Advisor for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Tribal Court and adjunct instructor at the University of Miami where she teaches Native and Indigenous studies. She serves on the American Bar Associations Victim’s Rights Task Force, co-chairs the Victim’s Committee for the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA, is a member of the Lenape Center’s MMIW Task Force and helped start the National Working Group on Safe Housing for American Indians and Alaska Natives. LaPorte was named a Henry Bandier Fellow and was the Natasha Pettigrew Memorial Award Winner for her time as a fellow in the Children and Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.

Lenny Hayes, MA, StrongHearts Board of Directors Vice-Chairperson from the Sisseton Wahpeton-Oyate peoples is the owner and operator of Tate Topa Consulting, LLC and is currently in private practice specializing in Marriage Family Therapy. He has extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit/Native LGBTQ and Native community. Hayes is the former Missing and Murdered Two-Spirit Project Assistant for Sovereign Bodies Institute. He is a 2020 graduate of the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Cohort 5. He was selected to be a 2018 recipient of the Bonnie Heavy Runner Advocacy Award at the 16th National Indian Nations Conference “Justice for Victims.” Additionally, Hayes was a nominee for the 2021 NIWRC Tillie Black Bear Award.

Tamra (Tami) Truett Jerue, StrongHearts Board of Directors Treasurer, from the Anvik Tribe currently serves as the Executive Director of the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center. Jerue has worked in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault and intersecting issues for the last 40 plus years in various capacities. Her education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, Community Psychology and Secondary Education. She has been involved with many non-profit boards over the years and has worked most of her professional life in rural Tribal Alaska in many fields such as Therapist, Sexual Assault Counselor, Teacher, Tribal Administrator, Indian Child Welfare Act Social Worker and Trainer.

Gwendolyn Packard, StrongHearts Board of Directors Secretary from the Ihanktonwan Dakota peoples is the Training and Technical Assistance Specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. She was instrumental in founding the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS). Packard served as Executive Director for Morning Star House, an advocacy program that works with off-reservation Native women and children who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. She is a survivor of domestic violence, a writer, a grassroots organizer and a community activist.

StrongHearts Native Helpline is a proud partner of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline). StrongHearts Native Helpline is funded by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Office for Victims of Crime: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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