AIANTA Board of Directors

To represent all of Indian Country, the AIANTA Board of Directors is composed of representatives from 15 designated regions. Each representative is elected by their respective region to serve a three-year term.

Each member of our Board of Directors brings expertise and resources to the organization and many of our valued Board members serve on other national advisory boards, state cabinets and commissions that all work to strengthen Indian Country tourism.

Travis Owens

President, Oklahoma Region

Travis Owens (Cherokee Nation) oversees cultural tourism and community relations for Cherokee Nation Businesses. In his role, Travis manages five museums, including the newly opened Cherokee National History Museum. Travis also manages the restoration of historic sites, interpretive planning, infrastructure development, site planning, cultural art, events, and marketing. While working for the Cherokee Nation, Travis has worked to develop restoration plans from multiple historic properties, managed the remodel of four gift shops, managed the development of five museums and is currently working on development plans for an additional historic property.

In his role, Travis also oversees corporate sponsorship and employee volunteerism for Cherokee Nation Businesses and its more than 6,000 employees.

Before joining Cherokee Nation Businesses in early 2008, Travis worked for the Cherokee Nation Commerce Department and primarily focused on rural community development through tourism, including agritourism, entrepreneurial development and Scenic Byway development. Travis holds a Bachelors of Business Administration with a specification in Tourism Management and Masters of Business Administration. Travis currently serves on the board of directors for Preservation Oklahoma and the American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism Association. Travis has also served on the board for Fab Lab Tulsa and the Tulsa Children’s Museum. In 2016, Travis was named one of Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 under 40.

Lora Ann Chaisson

Vice President, Southeast Region

Lora Ann Chaisson is the Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation (UHN) and a current resident of Pointe aux Chene, LA. She is the daughter of Theo Chaisson and the late Betty Sanders Chaisson. She is the UHN’s National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Delegate as well as the Southeast Regional Alternate Vice President to the NCAI Executive Committee. She is also the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association as well as a current member of the United States Department of Labor Native American Employment and Training Council. Chaisson is employed as the Vice President of Tribal Solutions Group. Her work with Tribal Solutions Group encompasses a variety of divisions with solution-based services in areas such as education, gaming, medical, and broadband/ communications specifically for tribal nations, entities, and enterprises. During her free time Chaisson enjoys teaching friends and family traditional Houma Indian basket-weaving, jewelry-making, and cooking. 

Kate Anderson

Secretary, Southern California Region

Kate Anderson, Director of Public Relations for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, has more than three decades of experience in multi-media, public relations, marketing, film and cultural heritage tourism. She is an enrolled Tribal Member with Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

As the Director of Public Relations, Ms. Anderson leads a team responsible for developing communication, educational and outreach programs to help advance community knowledge and understanding of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and its efforts. Her work includes public relations, educational initiatives, cultural heritage tourism initiatives, marketing and promotions, publications, social media, media outreach and special events, among other activities.

Her work has included developing a cultural tourism plan for the Tribe and working with partners across the Coachella Valley region in Southern California to put Palm Springs on the map around the world for cultural heritage tourism.

The Agua Caliente Indian Reservation covers about 31,500 acres across four jurisdictions including the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage and unincorporated areas of Riverside County. The Tribe operates two casino resorts, two golf courses, the Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon recreational area.

Brian Wadsworth

Treasurer, Great Basin Region

Brian Wadsworth is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (Kooyooe Tukadu), and grew up in Wadsworth, NV. Wadsworth works as the Finance Director for Native Public Media, Inc., a non-profit based in Arizona that provides leadership and strategic approaches to successfully strengthen the Native Broadcast System. He spent a large part of his earlier career working for his Tribe in various positions, including: Executive Director of the Pyramid Lake Housing Authority, Enterprise Manager for the Tribal Enterprises and Water Quality Manager for the Tribe’s Water Quality Program.

Brian graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in International Business, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting. He also graduated from Gonzaga University with a Master of Business Administration in American Indian Entrepreneurship.

Brian has proudly served as the Chairman of the Board for the Pyramid Lake Jr./Sr. High School Board of Education (2017-2019 and 2014-2015). He is a former Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Councilmember (2013-2015 and 2016-2018).

Wadsworth proudly serves as the Vice Chair for the Nevada Indian Commission(NIC), Vice Chair for the Nevada’s Indian Territory, and is a Board Member on the City of Reno Financial Advisory Board. The purpose of the NIC is to serve as a liaison between the 27 sovereign nations in the state and the Nevada State Governor. The Commission works to also preserve the history of the Stewart Indian Boarding School.

Brian also served as a Commissioner on the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT). The NCOT works to increase tourism activities within all tourism territories in the State of Nevada.

Jamey Cagle

Southeast Alaska Region

Jamey Cagle’s grandparents, Bob and Betty Allen, founded the Allen Marine shipyard in Sitka, Alaska in 1967. Several years later, in 1970, they started Allen Marine Tours. From a young age, Jamey became deeply involved in the family business. When he was just 10, he began working as a passenger service crew member, deckhand, and naturalist. At age 18, Jamey earned his captain’s license and attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he studied engineering, as well as the University of Alaska Southeast. Later, Jamey worked as the shipyard electrical foreman during the construction of many Allen Marine vessels.

In 1999, Jamey became the Division Manager for Allen Marine Tour’s Sitka division. In that capacity, he oversaw all aspects of day-to-day business, including complex scheduling, charter contracts, hiring, and direct supervision for over 40 people. After 5 years in the role, Jamey was promoted to Vice President, and later Senior Vice President of Allen Marine, Inc. In 2010, Jamey played a critical role in the conceptualization, development, and launch of small ship cruise line, Alaskan Dream Cruises.
Jamey’s upbringing immersed him in a unique way in every facet of the company including finance, marketing, sales, engineering, mechanics, information technology, electrical, retail sales, business development, human resources, and more. As owner, this extensive background plays an invaluable role as he oversees the operation of multiple business lines throughout the region.

Jamey has been and continues to be the primary contact and maintains and fosters all business relationships with managers and executives of cruise line partners, including Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and many more. With over 30 years in the marine and travel industries, he has provided invaluable insight as a board member of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, Southeast Alaska Area Maritime Security Committee, Holland America Community Advisory Board, and Alaska Raptor Center Board. He has also lent his financial expertise gained from decades of business success as a board member for ALPS Federal Credit Union.

Jamey is Alaska Native of the Tlingit tribe and is a shareholder of the Sealaska Regional Corporation, Shee Atika Village Corporation, and Goldbelt Inc. Alaska Native Corporation. He is also a citizen of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and is registered with Tlingit/Haida Central Council.

Nikki Graham

Alaska Region

Nikki Graham (Yup’ik/Blackfoot Indian/Dutch) who serves as the Director of Operations for the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Originally from Homer, Alaska, Graham is a lifelong Alaskan, a Cook Inlet Region Incorporated (CIRI) shareholder, and is enrolled in the Ninilchik Village Tribe.

Most recently, she was the Senior Director of Alaska’s People for Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), where she served as a strategic partner who built partnerships in the community to connect people to resources and development opportunities. Nikki is a past board member of the Alaska Native Professional Association (ANPA) and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation Investment Council. Graham has also served as the Indigenous Chef for the First Alaskans Institute Smokehouse Gala for the past several years.



Sarah Kazhe

Southwest Region Representative

Kazhe, is a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Director of Marketing for the Inn of the Mountain Gods Enterprises, located on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in Southern New Mexico. She was born and raised in Mescalero and has worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years. Kasha has been the Director of Marketing going on 13 years and has worked in many different areas of the resort. Coming from a diverse cultural background as well, her parents come from Chiricahua Apache, Pima, Papago, Cherokee, Irish, German, and Italian decent. She is the great-great daughter of the Apache Scout Rogers Toclanny and Siki Toclanny who were prisoners of war for 27 years.

Kazhe has an Associates of Arts degree from New Mexico State University, a certificate in Cultural Tourism for George Washington University, and Cornell University in the area of Hospitality and Service. She is also a licensed cosmetologist in the state of New Mexico.

“I have a pride and passion for my Mescalero Apache people and I do my very best each day to represent then in any capacity they call upon me to do so”

Kirby Metoxen

Midwest Region

Oneida Nation Council Member Kirby Metoxen was elected to the Oneida Nation Business Committee in 2017. Previous to this leadership position, Kirby worked for the Oneida Tourism Department as a Special Events Tourism Coordinator. For more than 27 years Kirby has concentrated on tourism and the development of tourism for his Nation. During this time, Kirby has represented Oneida Nation with other organizations. He served on the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council’s Tourism Advisory Committee for 20 years, from 1994-2014. He has been the Oneida representative to the Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW) for a number of years. NATOW is a consortium of the 11 tribes in Wisconsin that meets bi-monthly to share what each tribe is doing to promote tourism on their reservations. Earlier, before his current term, Kirby served on the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association Board of Directors and represented the Midwest region for 14 years. He also serves on the Woodland Indians Arts Board and has been a member of the Oneida Hymn Singers for 50 years. Kirby’s knowledge, experience and dedication will continue to enhance the effort for the Oneida Nation and AIANTA.

Darian Morsette 

Rocky Mountain Region

Darian Morsette, of New Town North Dakota, is an enrolled member of the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes and a descendant of all 3 tribes. His native name is Buffalo Shoulder and he belongs to the Hidatsa Prairie Chicken Clan. Morsette is the Director of MHA Nation Tourism and has been for the past 10 years. He is also the President of the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance and enjoys working in the fast-paced tourism field. Morsette holds an Associates of Applied Science Degree from United Tribes Technical College. Throughout his career, Morsette has been in supervisory and management positions and has served on other boards. He has planning experience including hosting events and enjoys being in the public working and networking.

Malia Sanders

Hawai’i Region

Malia Sanders serves as the Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. Her work has impacted Hawai‘i’s visitor industry by utilizing Hawaiian cultural values as the foundation for professional development and business leadership. Through consultation, training and networking, her organization supports those who provide authentic experiences to Hawaiʻi’s visitors.

Mālia has recently been recognized with the 2022 Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year Award and featured as one of AIANTA’s Native American Leaders in Cultural Heritage Tourism. She is a founding member and Alakaʻi of ʻAha Pūlama Pāʻū Hololio, a Hawaiian Pāʻū Riding Club, the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu, and the Chair of the annual Holokū Ball. Mālia is an experienced horseman and enjoys her time with her ʻohana.

Jamie SiJohn

Northwest Region

Jamie Sijohn is a proud member of the Spokane Tribe located 50 miles northwest of Spokane, Washington. Jamie grew up on the Spokane Reservation learning from her grandparents and family their traditional culture, oral history, and the importance of protecting and preserving the culture and traditions.

Jamie began her career in the NBC Television newsroom in Spokane and advanced throughout the ranks to become the Assignment Manager leading a team of reporters and photographers. Jamie quickly learned how to use the mainstream media to focus a positive spotlight on the many important stories, people, and issues within Indian Country. Ms. Sijohn has 20+ years of media experience on a variety of platforms including traditional media, social media and public relations. All of which benefit the Spokane Tribe and other tribal clients.

Jimmy John Thompson

Central California Region

Thompson is a council member for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe in Bishop, California and previously served as the chairman and vice chairman. He is currently the Board Secretary for the Inter-Tribal Council of California, Inc. His Tribe is located within Death Valley National Park, the only Tribe with Trust Lands inside a National Park. The park is the largest U.S. National Park outside of Alaska.  Jimmy John has been working with partners to ensure that cultural tourism and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe are front and center in the park.

Charlene Virgilio

Northeast Region

Charlene is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation and joined FDDC in January 2019 as its first Community Development Program Manager. After successfully developing the program, she was promoted to the Director of Operations, building organizational capacity and growing FDDC’s project portfolio. In October of 2021, she was promoted to Executive Director. In her new role as leader of the only Native American Community Development Financial Institution in the New England area, Charlene continues to focus on FDDC’s core mission to improve the social and economic conditions of the four tribes in Maine. Prior to joining FDDC, Charlene worked 37-years with International Business Machines, where she held led strategic, operations and transformational areas. She also served on the Penobscot Tribal Council for eight years. Charlene resides in Old Town and enjoys hiking, skiing and boating.

AIANTA Regions

AIANTA’s 15 regions include:

  • Alaska
  • Southeast Alaska
  • Hawai’i
  • Central California
  • Southern California
  • Northwest (Idaho, Washington)
  • Pacific Northwest (Northern California, Oregon)
  • Great Basin (Nevada, Eastern California)
  • Oklahoma
  • Rocky Mountain (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming)
  • Central Plains (Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio)
  • Midwest (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin)
  • Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, West Texas, Utah)
  • Northeast (Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia)
  • Southeast (Alabama, Arkansas, East Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Native American Agriculture Fund

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Bureau of Land Management

National Endowment of the Arts

National Park Service

United States Forest Service