Dr. Norma Blackwater
Acting Medical Director
Ms. Castillo is the Executive Director of the California Native Vote Project (CNVP). Celestina has worked with a wide range of community-based organizations focused on education, community and workforce development, advocacy and organizing throughout Los Angeles. She directed the Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL) at Occidental College for over a decade where she began working on building a historical photo archive for UAII in partnership with organizational staff and community members, as well as students and scholars. Celestina earned her BA in History at Pomona College, a MS in Urban Policy Analysis and Management at New School University in New York, and is currently in a PhD program in Gender Studies at UCLA. Celestina is Tohono O'odham and Chicana/Mexican-American. Her family has lived in Los Angeles for four generations.
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Luis Cervantes serves as the United American Indian Involvement’s (UAII) Chief Executive Officer. He previously served UAII as Chief Financial Officer from 2016-2019 UAII. Mr. Cervantes has served in the non-profit sector for nearly twenty years in Los Angeles. These agencies providing Veteran services, educational support, workforce, homeless services, assisted living, substance abuse disorders, religious institutions, charter schools, and other health & human services. He has managed upwards of $130 million annual budget, including an endowment, and over $450 million in assets. He serves on the Board of Directors of a mental health services agency, El Centro de Amistad, serving four years as President. He received his Bachelor of Science from California State University Northridge and a Master of Business Administration from Corban University.
Director of Youth Services
Mr. Ramon Enriquez serves as the Director of Youth Services for United American Indian Involvement, Inc. and oversees the American Indian Clubhouse, Central High School - UAII Branch, and the Robert Sundance Summer Camp. He has served the American Indian community since 2000 working in various capacities at United American Indian Involvement - both as a volunteer and as an employee. He also served as a Mayoral-appointed Commissioner on the Los Angeles City/County American Indian Commission and has worked on a variety of issues concerning the American Indian community including youth, veterans, and mental health. He has also served as a Stakeholder Delegate for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and was an Advisory Board member for the Circle of Care Project at UAII, and currently serves as a Board Member for Inter Tribal Sports, which is an American Indian youth sports league that covers several counties throughout Southern California. Other professional associations include membership with the Native American Veterans Association, the Boys Scouts of America, the American Camp Association, and USA Archery. Mr. Enriquez received a Bachelors of Science in Political Science with a Minor in American Indian Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Lynda Evans, MSW has been with United American Indian Involvement, Inc. since 2014. Lynda
began as an In-Home Out-reach counselor with Family Preservation and transitioned to a mental
health therapist. Lynda graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, and has
obtained her certification in substance use disorders and is currently working towards her Ph.D.
in social work. Lynda has taken on the position of program coordinator for the Behavioral Health
Integration Initiative (BH2I) grant and supervises 7 Generation’s MSW interns.
Prevention and Aftercare Program Coordinator
Farrah Ferris, Hoopa, MSW, Prevention and Aftercare Program Coordinator
Farrah Ferris is a proud member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe (Hupa) and descendant of Yurok, Karuk, and Redwood Creek Tribes. She received her Master of Social Work (Mental Health Clinical Concentration) degree at the University of Southern California (USC) and Bachelor of Social Work at California State University, Puvungna (Long Beach/CSULB). She currently works as a therapist and Program Coordinator for the Prevention and Aftercare that integrates cultural and community interventions to prevent and/or reduce child abuse and neglect. Farrah has experience as a social worker and mental health clinician with urban and rural reservation communities creating a collaboration network for tribal and non-tribal agencies. Farrah is also a current co-Chair for the Los Angeles County of AI/AN UsCC group which aides in increasing mental health awareness and services for AI/AN community. In Farrah’s spare time, she enjoys being with Whima:lyo’ (family); cooking/baking; being outdoors; going ‘home’ to fish, gather traditional foods and materials. Additionally, Farrah is an avid Raider and SF Giants fan.
Director, Wellness Center
Dr. Andrea Garcia
Dr. Andrea Garcia, Board Member, Director of Community Centered Initiatives | Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
Dr. Garcia is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, and she is Mexican American. She was born and raised in Los Angeles where she credits her family and the local Native community for equipping her with the tools necessary to complete higher education. She participates in the pow wow circle as a fancy shawl dancer and has benefited from the programming offered by our longstanding organizations since she was in middle school. Dr. Garcia trained in General and Preventive Medicine and completed a fellowship with the National Clinician Scholars Program at UCLA in research and policy. She is a proud graduate of the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program where she obtained her master's degree in health and medical sciences from UC Berkeley, and her medical degree from UCSF. She serves as a Mayoral Appointee for the L.A. City/County Native American Indian Commission, and she is excited to serve on the boards of We Are Healers and Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians. In her spare time, Dr. Garcia loves to eat, run, then eat some more!
Executive Administrative Assistant
Director of Operations
Eric James Honanie (Navajo, Hopi, Choctaw), Director of Operations, has worked for United American Indian Involvement, Inc. since 2001. Mr. Honanie has managed various facility and logistical support duties serving all programs at UAII. Mr. Honanie has been responsible for Vehicle Management, as well as Facilities Management. He has a strong passion for Emergency Planning and is the agency Safety Compliance Officer. He is also a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and has attended national training provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Currently, Mr. Honanie is a Board Member of the Emergency Network of Los Angeles.
Dr. Carrie Johnson
Director of Seven Generations Child & Family Services
Dr. Carrie Johnson (Wahpeton Dakota) is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Director of the Seven Generations Child and Family Counseling Center at United American Indian Involvement in Los Angeles, California. For the last 20 years, Dr. Johnson has provided Behavioral Health services to American Indians in Los Angeles County, including mental health treatment, grant writing, integrating traditional healing into services and evaluation of the services. Dr. Johnson is involved with local county-wide and State wide advisory boards to increase the access and cultural competence of services provided to Native Americans. She is also an experienced trainer and consultant in the impact of intergenerational trauma on Indian children, families, and communities; and provides consultation, training, and workshops on a Community and Family Healing Model she has developed. Dr. Johnson also provides TA on program development, grant writing, evaluation and direct services for Native Americans.
Sheri Johnson, LMFT
Treatment and Intervention Program Coordinator
Sheri Johnson, LMFT: DCFS, Child Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Intervention Program Coordinator
Sheri Johnson (she/her) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT 116365)and is a Kansas
native with Mississippi roots. She has lived in Southern California since 2002 and has worked at a
residential treatment facility before attending school at National University to earn an M.S. in
Educational Counseling and later obtained an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy specializing in
African American Family Studies at Pacific Oaks College. Sheri has experience working with children,
adolescents, adults, and families seeking assistance coping with depression, anxiety, trauma, identity,
substance use, adjustment, and cultural identity by using humanistic and post-modern modalities and
interventions. In her free time, Sheri enjoys watching documentaries, browsing the new book section of
various public libraries, or doing an acceptable two-step to 90s R&B and Hip Hop.
Susan Lowe, LMFT
Child Abuse Treatment Program Coordinator
Susan Lowe is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Program Coordinator for the Child Abuse Treatment Program (CHAT) at UAII in Los Angeles, California. The Child Abuse Treatment (CHAT) Program provides intensive therapeutic counseling services to children in underserved communities. In addition to serving as a Family Therapist in community mental health, Susan has worked in residential Therapeutic Foster Care and Addiction counseling. Susan is originally from the New York Metro area and has lived in the Los Angeles area for over 14 years. She is proud of her African, Creek, and Cherokee ancestry and has incorporated these various traditions in her counseling and leadership styles. Susan earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family therapy from Pacific Oaks School of Cultural and Family Psychology.
Rae Marie Martinez
Rae Marie Martinez Native Pathways to Healing Program Program Coordinator/Advocate/Mentor. She is currently the Program Coordinator for The Native Pathways to Healing Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Program for United American Indian Involvement. Rae has served with UAII for approximately 19 years. Rae Marie is an Advocate and provides court accompaniment for victims/survivors of domestic violence & sexual assault issues in various court settings, such as dependency, criminal, superior courts. She has worked collaboratively with a variety of service providers throughout Los Angeles County that includes social workers, therapists, various police departments, attorneys, and district attorney’s offices. The Program provides multiple services and is continuously networking to find partner agencies, shelters, and housing options for temporary or permanent to ultimately assist the women/families who provide the best quality care possible. Her goa; and passion is for the women too live a violent free lifestyle, to be educated, equipped, and empowered.
Director of Health Services
Jonelle McGee is a Registered Nurse who started at United American Indian Involvement as the Community Clinic Manager, where she worked for 5 years before transitioning to her current role leading the Los Angeles American Indian Health Project. As the Director of Health Services, Jonelle’s current projects for the Health Project include departmental growth, increasing revenue, expanding clinic capacity and the services that we are able to offer to our community, building partnerships and increasing community presence, improving the delivery of services to our clients, building our telehealth outreach program, assembling a COVID-19 outreach response team, and working on bringing dental services to our LA clients. Together with her extensive nursing background and passion for public health and outreach, Jonelle remains committed to improving the health outcomes of the AI/AN community. Jonelle is the Diabetes Coordinator at UAII, is an active member of the Behavioral Health Integration team, the Clinical Oversight Committee, the Credentialing & Privileging Committee, and leads the QA/QI team. When not working, Jonelle loves road tripping with her boys and trying new vegan restaurants wherever they go.
Director of Finance
Olga Meyer joined the United America Indian Involvement, Inc, as Director of Finance in September 2019 bringing nearly 20 years of experience in various organizations including Fortune 500 companies. She has a rich and varied experience in multiple finance and leadership roles in America. Her extensive leadership experience is augmented by an undergraduate degree in Economics and Industrial Engineering.
Over the past year, she has been working with the UAII where she has successfully implemented strict internal controls, leading and creating the $15m annual budget for the UAII, Inc in collaboration with departments. She has advocated and has executed multiple process automation initiatives to bring about efficiency to the UAII, Inc. operations. She has been able to do this on the back of a successful track record of leading the finance team deliver to challenging goals under demanding timelines.
She always strives towards creating a productive, welcoming and friendly work environment, encouraging every team member to achieve their very best to collectively accomplish the UAII, Inc. goals. Her leadership mantra “Communication, teamwork, commitment and positivity”. Along with management and finance accomplishments she enjoys taking care of her pets, bicycling, photography and hiking. She has been happily married for 20 years.
Mandy Dawn Nickerson
Mandy Dawn Nickerson, (Blackfeet, Gros Ventre). Mandy relocated from the Blackfeet Reservation, in Heart Butte Montana to Inglewood, California in 1970. From 1999 to 2013 she volunteered for the Indian Alcoholism Commission of Los Angeles County. Mandy is also a United States Navy Veteran and she has 18 years experience as an Indian Federal Law and Policy, and Tribal Law Paralegal. Her career has provided her the opportunity to travel and work with various Tribal Governments throughout the United States and assist the Deputy Federal Public Defender of Los Angeles. Mandy also brings 10 years experience in the mortgage industry where she acted as a liaison between clients, the private sector and federal programs. Mandy received her Paralegal Certification from Cal State University Northridge, in 1996 and in 2015; she graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, with her Certification in Native American Studies. However, Mandy’s true passion and main focus is assisting with Indian Child Welfare Act Cases, and served on the Los Angeles County Stakeholders Indian Child Welfare Act Board and the National Native American Bar Association. Baba Cooper, Oneida, Lakota, and Blackfeet from Fort Peck, Montana, and the Co-founder/Executive Director of United American Indian Involvement, was a close friend and it is a true honor to serve the community while carrying on Baba’s vision and mission.
Dr. Tiffany Ortiz
DCFS Family Preservation Program Coordinator
Dr. Tiffany Ortiz has proudly served the Native American community at UAII since 2010. Dr. Tiffany Ortiz
has a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Studies from King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry in
London England. She also received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in Health
Psychology in 2012 from Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology,
Los Angeles. Dr. Ortiz has extensive training and a specialization in working with the Birth to Five
population and hoping to provide more expertise in early intervention and prevention services. She
recently completed the Early Childhood Fellowship from UCLA and currently is a NAPA Fellow in the
Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship at UC Davis. She has been able to develop ongoing relationships
with the specialized units within the LA County’s Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS),
specifically the American Indian Unit. Dr. Ortiz is a humble ally to the Native American Community and
strives to continue to support our Native Families in the welfare system.
Patricia Perez, Ph.D.
Administrative & Clinical Supervisor
Dr. Patricia Perez is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Administrative/Clinical Supervisor at Seven Generations Child and Family Services. She began working at UAII in 2008, initially as a therapist and then as a Program Coordinator and Supervisor. From the beginning of her training as a Psychologist, Dr. Perez recognized the importance of providing culturally responsive services and feels proud to work at an agency that actually does that. Dr. Perez earned a Bachelor's and Master's in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. She then attended Arizona State University (Tempe Campus), where she obtained a Masters in Counselor Education and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology.
Joseph Quintana Tribe: (Kewa)
Mr. Quintana joined United American Indian Involvement in the fall of 2015 to lead the organization's new development projects. During this time he has increased the visibility of the organization, developed new- and maintained
existing partnerships, and been involved in diversification of funding sources. Mr. Quintana’s work has improved the health outcomes of community members and ensured that education and training will increase the economic health of Native people in Los Angeles. Joseph and his family are active participants in the LA Native community and plan on continuing to serve the needs of the American Indian people as a mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles City/ County Native American Indian Commission.
Amanda Simon, Associate Director, LA American Indian Health Project
Amanda Simon (Navajo/Choctaw) joined the Los Angeles American Indian Health Project as Associate Director in 2019. She has served the LA native community at UAII for over 15 years - first as a student volunteer and later as an employee with UAII’s youth programming where she has led award-winning health interventions. She received her BA in English with a minor in Biology from the University of Southern California. She was a Chief Manuelito scholar through the Navajo Nation and is from the To’ahaeedliinii clan.
Medical Records Supervisor
Leticia Tarango is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the medical records supervisor for the Los Angeles American Indian Health Project. Leticia is responsible for maintaining and securing medical records for each patient/client registered with the organization. For the last 20 years, Leticia has maintained UAII's patient data on the Indian Health Service’s Resource Patient Management System (RPMS) to ensure patient data is accurately captured.
Omerlene A. Thompson
Social Services Manager
Omerlene A. Thompson (Vielle) is an enrolled member of the Akimel O’odham (Gila
River) and Choctaw Nations. Omerelene has been employed by United American Indian
Involvement for the past 37 years, serving most recently as the Social Services
Manager. Helping families in need is her greatest inspiration for committing herself to
the American Indian Community on Skid Row in Downtown LA. In 2019, she was
honored for her years of dedicated service to the American Indian Community by LA
City Hall, the LA County Board of Supervisors, and at the LA City/ County Native
American Indian Commission at the Grand Park Powwow for Native American Heritage
Month. In February 2020, she received recognition by a proclamation from the Gila
River Indian Community Governor, Stephen R. Lewis, for her help in building the
relationship between UAII and her Gila River Indian Community that provided a
connection for urban members living in Los Angeles.
Heather Torres (San Ildefonso Pueblo, Navajo) [she/her/hers] is a graduate of UCLA School of Law's Critical Race Studies program, where she focused her courses and research on Federal Indian law and the racialization of American Indian identity. Currently, she is the Program Director for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. From 2018-2019, Heather served as Director of Native Student Programs (NSP) at the University of Redlands. Heather was the founding staff of NSP when the program was created in 2011, serving as Creating a Passion for Learning Coordinator. Heather's work in education started during her undergraduate years at UCLA where she was a student leader in the American Indian Student Association overseeing the American Indian Recruitment and Retention of American Indians Now! projects. This is where her involvement and commitment to UAII ignited, tutoring and mentoring students at Central High School. Her passion for education continues today through her work on the board of the American Indian Scholarship Fund of Southern California and active membership in the American Indian Alumni at UCLA. Heather earned her BAs in English and American Indian Studies in 2011, her MA in Collaborative Educational Leadership in 2014, and her J.D. in 2017. She is licensed to practice law in the State of California.
Leticia Verduzco-Tom, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Leticia Verduzco-Tom oversees the Human Resources function at UAII as the Human Resources Manager with a perspective gained through 20+ years of human resources experience in the non-profit, corporate, and local government sectors. Her expertise spans the areas of employee relations, performance management, benefits, compensation, process improvement, internal communications, and culture.
Leticia holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (emphasis Human Resources Management) from California State University, Los Angeles. She is a Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) through the HR Certified Institute and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) through the Society of Human Resources Management. She holds memberships with the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA) District 4.
Keith H. Vielle
My name is Keith H. Vielle. I am an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. I have been a community member since 1963. My family was a part of the Relocation Act of the 1950’s. I am currently employed with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health in the American Indian Unit for the past 13 years. I am a member of NAVA veterans group, as well as a Honor Guard member since 2003. I recently completed 1 year as a Co-Chair with DMH UsCC committee. The UsCC Committee has provided a American Indian mental health conference for the community for the past 8 years as a way to overcome and understand the stigma of mental health and substance abuse. I have interacted with United American Indian Involvement organization in both a professional manner as well as a community member for over 20 years. My interaction with the Clubhouse as a certified Archery coach and a summer camp mentor has given me a sense of pride to be a part of an organization that sets the standard in American Indian health care, substance abuse as well as the very best in social services for our community. The key to UAII success as I believe is it listens to the community needs. Since day one, it has always been a beacon of hope for our people. We as a community can rely on UAII for support and to help us meet our goals and become a more stronger and healthier community.
Director of Workforce Development
Rene’ Williams, Director of Workforce Development
Rene’(Colville), grew up and was raised on her reservation including boarding school, Rene’ is committed to working towards health equity (by building partnerships with consumers, businesses, Tribes, and community organizations) to address health disparities and the social determinants of health for indigenous people. During her 20 years of service with various Tribal entities and non-profits, Rene’ held various leadership positions throughout the United States. She developed and implemented numerous health, educational, workforce development, and youth programs including two large regional tribally designed TANF programs among many HHS, DOL, DOI, DOE, and HUD projects.