Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M. (Chickasaw) Director
Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M. (Chickasaw) is Founding Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Prior to launching the Initiative, she served in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor for Tribal Relations to Secretary Tom Vilsack, and prior to her appointment within the Office of the Secretary she served in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, as the National Program Leader for Farm Financial Management, Risk Management Education, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. She also served at USDA Risk Management Agency as the Risk Management Education Director. Prior to her work in Washington, DC, at the national level, she has had a long career in the field of agriculture and food law.
She has been a licensed attorney in Oklahoma for more than 30 years and specializes in food and agriculture law and Indian law.
Erin Parker, J.D., LL.M.
Erin currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law, where she supports the Initiative through program development, research and writing, and analysis of legislative and regulatory issues affecting Tribal governments, businesses, and individual producers. The bulk of her professional work centers on the tension between the tectonic plates of food & agricultural law and federal Indian law, and as part of this work, she will be part of a team of Initiative attorneys developing a Tribal Model Food & Agriculture Code. Most recently, she authored the 2015 Intertribal Food Systems Report, which lifts up nearly one-hundred different innovative food systems programs doing work across Indian Country. This work was generously supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the report should be released in early spring 2016.
Before beginning her work with the Initiative, Professor Shirl worked as a Staff Attorney and Research Coordinator for the Cobell Commission, a national working group convened by the Secretary of the Interior to repair the federal government’s Indian land trust management system. She is a proud Law Hog and holds both her J.D. and her LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law from the University of Arkansas, and her final thesis for the LL.M. program was a practical legal guide to conducting food recovery in the state of Arkansas. She continues to advance her work in the area of food conservation law and policy by volunteering her time and experience to the law school’s Food Recovery Project.
Adae Romero-Briones, J.D., LL.M. (Kiowa/Cochiti)
Ms. Romero-Briones works as Director of Community Development for Pulama Lana’i. Before her work as a Food & Agricultural Consultant, Ms. Romero-Briones worked for the University of Arkansas’ Indigenous Food and Agricultural Intuitive while she was getting her LLM in Food and Agricultural Law. Her thesis was on the Food Safety Modernization Act as it applied to the Federal Tribal relationship. She wrote extensively about Food Safety, the Produce Safety rule and tribes, and the protection of tribal traditional foods.
A U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Ms. Romero-Briones received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Princeton University, and received a Law Doctorate from Arizona State University’s College of Law, and LLM in Food and Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas. She currently sits on several boards, including the Lana’i Elementary and High School Foundation.
Toni Stanger-Mclaughlin, J.D. (Colville)
Toni is the owner of a consulting firm and the founder of Indiancountrygrants.com. After graduating law school she began working for the United States Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in Washington DC. During her time in Civil Rights, she led the office in reviewing thousands of outstanding claims as well as the settlement of the Keepseagle Opt-Outs, resulting in the protection of over 380,000 acres of tribal land from foreclosure. Toni moved from Civil Rights to the USDA Office of the Secretary where she represented the Department in working with the United States Forest Service on improving sacred sites policies. She now works with tribes in lending, business and infrastructure development, code writing and agricultural development.
Dave Nezzie, J.D. (Navajo)
Dave is a LL.M. candidate in Agriculture & Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He received a J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law with program certificates in Federal Indian Law and Natural Resources & Environmental Law. Nezzie attended Arizona State University as an undergraduate, earning concurrent degrees in Anthropology and American Indian Studies. Nezzie is a tribal member from the Navajo Nation and resides near Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and three children.
Bryan Pollard (Cherokee)
Director of Tribal Relations
Bryan Pollard is the Director of Tribal Relations for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.
Prior to joining the Initiative, Pollard was the executive editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the tribal news organization for the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah, Okla. During his term as executive editor, Bryan expanded the audience of the Cherokee Phoenix by improving the quality of the newspaper and launching an array of digital products such as a responsive, multimedia website, a daily electronic newsletter, a weekly radio show, news videos, and the adoption of social media platforms. He also positioned the organization to play a vital role in revitalizing the Cherokee language by using the Cherokee syllabary in many of its print and digital products. As a result, the Cherokee Phoenix is recognized as one of the best newspapers in the state of Oklahoma and all of Indian Country.
Before joining the Cherokee Phoenix, Bryan was the founding managing editor of street roots, a non-profit newspaper focusing on issues affecting the homeless and low-income community in Portland, Ore.
Bryan is a lifetime member and current president of the Native American Journalists Association and is a member of NAJA’s Free Press Committee. He sits on the board of directors for the High Country News and UNITY: Journalists for Diversity. He has also served as a board member for the North American Street Newspaper Association. In 2014, he was awarded the Medill Milestone Achievement Award by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism for outstanding contributions to Native journalism.
He is a certified high school journalism teacher and has taught at Sequoyah High School, an Indian boarding school in Tahlequah, and has served as a mentor for numerous journalism workshops including the Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists Working Press, the UNITY News and the NAJA Student Projects and Project Phoenix.
Bryan holds a B.A. in anthropology from Louisiana State University.
Emerald serves as the Initiative’s Recruitment Officer. Before joining the Initiative, Emerald worked in the Office of Admissions at the University of Arkansas. During her last three years in Admissions, her work focused exclusively on college outreach in Native communities.
She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, earning her M.Ed in Higher Education. She also holds a B.A. in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley. Emerald’s primary focus will be the Summer Leadership Summit: Native Youth in Agriculture.