Tribal Law and Policy Institute
The Tribal Law and Policy Institute is a Native American owned and operated non-profit corporation organized to design and deliver education, research, Training, and technical assistance programs which promote the enhancement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples. We are guided by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board. We utilize an Approach to Training and Technical Assistance which is incorporated into all of our Programs and Services.
We seek to facilitate the sharing of resources so that Indian Nations and tribal justice systems have access to cost effective resources which can be adapted to meet the individual needs of their communities. We strive to establish programs which link tribal justice systems with other academic, legal, and judicial resources such as law schools, Indian law clinics, tribal colleges, Native American Studies programs, Indian legal organizations and consultants, tribal legal departments, other tribal courts, and other judicial/legal institutions. Through these collaborative alliances, we are implementing a synergistic approach to the delivery of services to Indian Country - accessing a wealth of talent and resources. We firmly believe that the coming years will see a dramatic change in the traditional mode of the delivery of tribal justice training and technical assistance services. Our staff and consultants are developing training through a variety of modes such as interactive CD-ROM and Internet based distant learning programs.
The Tribal Law and Policy Institute has developed a series of Comprehensive Publications. We believe that resources - especially resources developed under federal grants - should be freely accessibly on the Internet in order to maximize tribal access to these resources.
Tribal Law and Policy Institute Programs
Past projects include the following:
We provide a wide range of exceptional training and technical assistance services, including the following:
Please note that the Institute’s Alaska office was closed due to the loss of funding for the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Children’s Justice Act (CJA) Technical Assistance (TA) grant that had funded the Alaska office.
Capacity Building Center for Tribes
* Please note that our staff cannot answer questions about Native Genealogy nor can we provide legal advice or legal assistance with any case pending in any court.
Tribal Law and Policy Institute Board of Directors
Maria Alidio is the Administrative Manager for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. She joined the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in December 2009 as a Program Specialist bringing in with her over 25 years of office administrative experience in the fields of Educational Research Studies, Internal Medicine, and Development Construction. She also proudly served 10 years in the United States Naval Reserve, under the Commander Naval Forces Korea Headquarters as a Yeoman 2nd Class Petty Officer and was decorated with the United States Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, by Rear Admiral Daniel S. Mastagni for establishing a comprehensive muster report which ensured that all personnel were accounted for during a period of high tension in Korea. Maria works closely with the CBC for Tribes Co-Project Director to manage administrative functions, the information library, assists with financial tasks, human resource tasks, technology tasks, and coordinates the day-to-day office operations. She also manages the logistical functions as they relate to the grant/contract deliverables. Maria works out of the Las Vegas office and enjoys her home with her wife Margaret and two kids (dogs) Zoey and Lucy.
Bonnie Clairmont (Ho-Chunk) is the Victim Advocacy Specialist for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute’s Minnesota Office. Prior to her employment with the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, she was the Outreach/Client Services Coordinator for Sexual Offense Services of Ramsey County, a rape crisis center. While employed there, Bonnie provided leadership in the development of Sexual Assault Response Teams and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs and offered guidance with multidisciplinary sexual assault protocol development. She has worked more than twenty-five years advocating for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She has dedicated much of her work to providing and improving services for victim/survivors of sexual assault, battering, and child sexual abuse, particularly those from American Indian communities. For four years she coordinated the Strengthening the Circle of Trust Conference, a conference focusing on sexual assault and exploitation perpetrated by American Indian spiritual leaders/medicine men. Bonnie co-edited a recently published book "Sharing Our Stories of Survival" an anthology of writing by Native Women who've experienced violence. Bonnie provided technical assistance to research conducted by Amnesty International USA that led to the report, "Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous Women from sexual violence in the USA." She and her partner Jim Clairmont have two children and five grandchildren.
Kori Cordero (White Mountain Apache and Cahuilla descendent) is the UCLA Public Service Fellow at Tribal Law and Policy Institute. Kori received her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, with specializations in Critical Race Studies and The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. While in law school, Kori focused her CRS specialization on tribal and federal Indian law and co-drafted an amicus brief in support of the Wishtoyo Foundation’s efforts to preserve sacred sites. Before joining TLPI, Kori worked as a law clerk at the Pascua Yaqui Prosecutor's Office in Tucson, Arizona, where she worked on a child welfare reform project. Kori also spent a year as a law clerk for the San Bernardino County Office of the Public Defender in Victorville, California, where she assisted with misdemeanor, felony, and drug court cases.
Elizabeth Deserly (Kickapoo) serves as the Capacity Building Coordination Specialist for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. She is responsible for coordinating capacity building technical assistance activities as well as being the point person for Tribes who wish to access services from the Center for Tribes. Elizabeth previously served as the Special Projects Assistant and Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the National Resource Center for Tribes. Prior to her work with the NRC4Tribes, she worked as a technical assistance coordinator for the Indian Child and Family Resource Center based in Helena, MT. Elizabeth is also a photographer and videographer, as well as a photography business owner for the past 15 years. Elizabeth is a graduate in Photographic Communication from Northwest College, Wyoming. She and her husband, Matt (Assiniboine), are the parents of five children.
Kathy Deserly serves as the TLPI Co-Project Director for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes in conjunction with Co-Project Director, Anne Comstock, at the University of Denver. Kathy has worked in the field of Indian child welfare for more than thirty years, beginning as Assistant Director of Indian Child and Family Services, a foster and adoption agency, in Southern California where she spent twelve years. She later worked as a technical assistance specialist for the National Indian Child Welfare Association, providing extensive training and technical assistance to Native and non-Native agencies on topics related to tribal child welfare and social services. Kathy served as Indian Child Welfare Specialist for the State of Montana from 1996-2000. In 2004 Kathy became a founding board member of the Indian Child and Family Resource Center (ICFRC) based in Helena, Montana, a training and technical assistance center for Tribal social service programs, private providers and state agencies. Kathy spent ten years as an independent child welfare consultant prior to joining the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in 2009 where she served as the Associate Director and later as Director of the National Resource Center for Tribes from 2009-2014.
Chia Halpern Beetso J.D. (Spirit Lake Dakota) is the Tribal Court Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) and has experience working with tribal courts, federal Indian policy and tribal law. She received her juris doctor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Prior to coming to TLPI, she was a Deputy Prosecutor for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and has prosecuted a variety of criminal matters, including domestic violence, in tribal court. In addition, Chia has provided training and technical assistance (T/TA) to tribal healing to wellness courts and has coordinated T/TA efforts on this front nationwide. Also, she has researched, drafted and presented resources on Tribal Law and Order Act implementation.
Terrilena Dodson (Navajo) joined Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) in June 2006 as the Graphics Designer. She works on TLPI’s publications by designing covers, editorial assistance, and preparing copy written documents for final publication. She arranged the Final Report for the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th Justice for Victims of Crime: National Indian Nations Conferences. Most recently, she helped with TLPI’s Promising Strategies: Tribal-State Court Relations, and Promising Strategies: Public Law 280 publications. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two children.
Suzanne Garcia works with the Capacity Building Center for Tribes as the Child Welfare Specialist. She provides training and technical assistance for tribal child welfare agencies, with special expertise on Tribal Title IV-E access. Most recently, she served as the Assistant General Counsel for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California for over seven years. In that role, she worked extensively with child welfare issues, including negotiating tribal-county agreements, developing policies and procedures, and extensive work with the Tribal Title IV-E development grant, Tribal Court Improvement grant, and Children’s Justice Act grant. Suzanne represented the Tribe in ICWA child welfare proceedings in state courts and child dependency cases in Washoe tribal court. She also developed and delivered both written and oral testimony in response to requests for consultation from ACF, IHS, BIA, and the DOJ. As a representative of the Washoe Tribe, Suzanne provided excellent peer-to-peer information sharing with tribes throughout the country about ‘lessons learned,’ and offering insight to the Washoe tribal experience in developing Tribal IV-E plans. Suzanne has worked numerous times over the past four years with the National Resource Center for Tribes in coordinating several tribal gatherings focused on tribal access to Title IV-E direct funding. Suzanne holds a Jurisprudence Doctor degree from the University of Arizona College of Law and an Applied Baccalaureate degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Davis.
Jerry Gardner J.D. (Cherokee) is the Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. He is an attorney with more than 35 years of experience working with American Indian/Alaska Native Nations, tribal court systems, and victims of crime in Indian country. Jerry has served as the Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute - a 100% Native American owned and operated non-profit corporation organized to design and deliver education, research, training, and technical assistance programs which promote the enhancement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples – since TLPI’s founding in 1996. He has also served as the Director of the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes. He has overall responsibility for all TLPI projects including TLPI’s Violence against Native Women programs and resources, TLPI’s Tribal-State Court collaboration programs and resources www.WalkingOnCommonGround.org, TLPI’s Tribal Healing to Wellness Court programs and resources, the Attorney General’s Taskforce on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence (Executive Summary/Full Report), and the seven most recent national Victims of Crime in Indian Country Conferences. He has served as a Council Member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR) and an ABA Tribal Courts Council member. He is the author of numerous publications and resources. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University in 1976 and a J.D. from Antioch School of Law in 1979. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UCLA School of Law, and Southwestern School of Law. He previously served as the Administrator for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA). He has been a tribal appellate court judge for tribes including Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota) and Poarch Creek Band (Alabama). He served as the Senior Staff Attorney with the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) from NIJC’s establishment in 1983 until TLPI’s founding in 1996. He served as a Professional Staff Member at the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the late 1970s. He also served in legal training positions for the national office of the Legal Services Corporation and the American Indian Lawyer Training Program.
Jessica Harjo (San Carlos Apache) is the Operations Director at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI). She has been with TLPI since 2008 and is responsible for the financial management, human resources and overall administrative operations of TLPI. She provides grants management support on all TLPI projects including the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th National Indian Nations Conference: Justice for Victims of Crime, OVC SANE-SART Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, and the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes. She coordinates grant proposal submissions, semi-annual and quarterly grant reports and supports the execution and implementation of program deliverables. Her background includes 15 years of experience in the areas of executive assistance, event coordination, corporate and tribal sponsorships, and ethnic marketing.
Chad Jackson (Cocopah) is the Administrative Assistant for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on financial accounting from California State University Dominguez Hills, magna cum laude. After graduating, he wanted to work with the Native American Community and received his first job at United American Indian Involvement, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA. He wanted to gain more experience and left to join a corporate advertising company where his duties included financial accounting and analysis. After a few years in the corporate world, he wanted to work with the Native community again. When the opportunity to work for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute presented itself, he was very happy to work with a non-profit focused on Native American issues.
Rebecca Macarro (Luiseńo) is a volunteer Administrative Assistant at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. She has currently worked as an Administrative Assistant at the Pechanga Tribal Government Center, and has worked closely under researchers and scholars at the Pechanga Cultural Center. She is currently a Political Science major and is transitioning from Mira Costa College to a university. She dedicates her spare time to her family, extra-curricular activities on her reservation, and envisioning projects to contribute to and help maintain the well-being of Indian Country.
Naomi Miguel (Tohono O’odham) is the Program Assistant for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. She maintains overall office maintenance and assists with coordinating travel, equipment and logistical details for national and regional meetings. She is a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s College where she majored in Political Science with minors in Pre-Law and Art. While in college, she interned with the tribal liaison at the Federal Communications Commission, and the Office of Inspector General at the National Science Foundation. After college, she worked as a field organizer for Arizona’s Coordinated and Congressional District One campaigns. Currently, she serves as a board member for Pukúu, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing cultural community services for Native Americans in Los Angeles County.
Lauren van Schilfgaarde J.D. (Cochiti Pueblo) serves as the Tribal Law and Policy Institute’s Tribal Law Specialist, which includes facilitating technical assistance to tribal courts, including Healing to Wellness Courts, and researching legal and policy issues as they face tribal governance and sovereignty. Lauren is a recent graduate of the UCLA School of Law, where she focused her studies upon tribal and federal Indian law. While in law school, she served as president of the Native American Law Students Association and on the board of the National Native American Law Students Association. Lauren participated in two tribal clinics, including the Tribal Legal Development Clinic and the Tribal Appellate Court Clinic, and has served as law clerk at the Native American Rights Fund and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Lauren is licensed in the State of California, and currently serves on the board of the California Indian Law Association.
Lou Sgroi is the Computer Technician and Webmaster for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI). He has worked with TLPI for over 10 years. He has developed and maintained the Tribal Court Clearinghouse (www.tribal-institute.org) website and numerous other websites. He designs and develops all of TLPI’s national and regional conference websites. These websites provide extensive links to additional information that will facilitate tribal justice utilization of technological innovations and the vast information available on the Internet.
Heather Valdez Singleton is the Program Director for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a Master's degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA and an undergraduate degree in anthropology from UC Berkeley. Her policy research focuses on tribal criminal justice policy in Indian Country. She has researched and written in the area of tribal legal and community development, and California tribal history. Her experience includes serving as project director for UCLA’s Native Nations Law and Policy Center’s nationwide assessment of Public Law 280; tribal liaison for tribal court grantees in California; research coordinator for UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center; and consultant for the Gabrieleno/Tongva tribal recognition project. Her current work focuses on tribal-state collaboration. Heather lives in Venice, California with her husband and two children.
Kelly Gaines Stoner J.D. (Cherokee) is a Victim Advocacy Legal Specialist for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and a Judge for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Formerly, Judge Stoner directed the Native American Legal Resource Center at Oklahoma City University School of Law for 12 years, where she directed various projects involving domestic violence in Oklahoma tribes. She provided training to Oklahoma state and tribal child welfare workers in the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act. As a legal professor, Kelly teaches domestic violence programs formerly located at Oklahoma City University and currently housed at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Professor Stoner teaches courses in American Indian Law, tribal law, domestic violence law, and the Indian Child Welfare Act. She is also a co-faculty member on Oklahoma University’s Child Abuse and Neglect Interdisciplinary Course comprised of law, medical, dentistry, graduate psychology, and social work students. Kelly has written on a variety of subjects related to tribal domestic relations with a focus on issues relating to domestic violence and Indian children. In 2008, she testified before the U. S. Indian Affairs Committee regarding domestic violence issues affecting Native American women in Indian Country. In 2010, she was invited to the White House to witness the signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act. She is a frequent lecturer for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence and the Office on Violence against Women’s national technical assistance providers on domestic violence related issues in Indian Country. Additionally, Stoner has authored and filed an Amicus on behalf of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association, whose membership includes 38 of Oklahoma’s federally recognized tribes, in the case of Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl, 570 U.S. __ (2013). Currently, Kelly Stoner resides in Oklahoma with her husband.
Joe Walker is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma and currently serves as the Tailored and Permanency Projects Manager for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes (Center for Tribes). Joe has worked in various positions over the years. His child welfare related experience consists of serving as a project evaluator for various projects such as, the Sacred Child Project (A Center for Mental Health Services Systems of Care project), the Medicine Moon Initiative (Systems of Care project focusing on tribal child welfare), Oniyapi (suicide prevention), and Clear Visions (adolescent substance abuse prevention and treatment). Joe also provided training on CMHS’s National Evaluation while working for ORC Macro and also served as a Child Protection Investigator for approximately 8 years for a Tribe in North Dakota. Prior to coming to the Center for Tribes, Joe served as a Child Welfare Specialist for the National Resource Center for Tribes. His non-child welfare related experience consists of service within the U.S. Army, a Special Agent for the Office of Inspector General, a Tribal Tax Commissioner, Security Director and Surveillance Director for a Tribal Casino. Joe holds a Master of Management Degree.
Maureen White Eagle (Ojibwe/Cree/Metis) is the Tribal Advocacy Legal Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) working specifically with our Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence grant. She gained knowledge on a variety of legal experiences by practicing law in the private sector for seventeen years. After her work in the private sector, she developed and managed a legal services program for Native victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Maureen has written numerous resources about Native American tribes on issues related to violence against women and children. Her resources are written to assist tribes in developing culturally responsive codes and procedures to deal with issues related to violence against women and children. She authored national reports on child sexual abuse in Indian Country and “The Co-Occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence in Indian country” (2011). She has provided training and facilitated group discussions at many national and state conferences. Recently, Maureen has worked with the Mayans in Guatemala to develop a culturally responsive training for advocates to respond to violence in Mayan communities. She also works on Indigenous women and children’s issues related to violence in the United States, Kenya and Guatemala. Currently, she is a member of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
For information concerning our training and technical assistance services, we can be reached at: