Melissa K. Nelson Ph.D. (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) President/CEO
Melissa K. Nelson is a Native ecologist, writer, media-maker and indigenous scholar-activist. She is the President/CEO of The Cultural Conservancy, which she had directed since 1993. She is Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University. Her work is dedicated to indigenous rights and revitalization, biocultural heritage and environmental justice, intercultural solidarity, and the renewal of community health and cultural arts. For over two decades Melissa has worked in the Native American food movement and since 2006 in international indigenous food sovereignty. Melissa is a Switzer Environmental Fellow and has received awards for films, community engagement, and experiential education. She publishes essays in academic and popular journals and books, and documents Native issues through AV recordings. She edited two anthologies, Original Instructions – Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future (2008), and Keepers of the Green World: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Sustainability (forthcoming). She has served on the boards of Earth Island Institute, Bioneers, and the Center for Whole Communities. Anishinaabe, Cree, Métis, and Norwegian, she is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.
Nícola Wagenberg, Ph.D. (Colombian/Jewish) Senior Program Associate
Nícola Wagenberg is a clinical and cultural psychologist, artist, film producer and educator. Nícola has worked for over 20 years with diverse individuals, communities and organizations on personal and cultural transformation. Since 2005, Nícola has been working with TCC directing media projects, developing and implementing arts and cultural health programs and helping with the operations and development of the organization. She is the co-producer of “Traditional Foodways of Native America,” “The Salt Song Trail Living Documentary,” co-directed TCC’s Friendship House Urban Garden Project and is the director of the Native Youth Guardians of the Waters project. Dr. Wagenberg has a private practice in Berkeley, CA. Her doctoral research focused on transformation of historical and intergenerational trauma. She trains therapists and health workers on the impact and transformation of historical and intergenerational trauma.
Mateo Hinojosa, M.A., (Bolivian-American) Media Director
Mateo Hinojosa is a documentary filmmaker and educator. He has put art on screen and on stage in the US, Bolivia, Argentina, Spain and Cameroon. In South America he has worked teaching at orphanages and in the mountains, leading theater workshops in prisons, and filming everything from neurosurgeries to street art. He has taught high school literature in California, and cross-cultural documentary skills to U.S. college students in Asia. His films explore issues of individual identity in collective struggle; spirituality and health; public space and art; politics and performance. His debut feature documentary, Spectacular Movements, follows young indigenous and mestizo actors in Bolivia as they struggle to embody their people's collective voice to revive the spirit of the recent revolution on stage and in the street. His production company, Woven Path, produces documentaries as well as educational and workshop services. Mateo is TCC’s Media Director.
Sara Moncada (Yaqui) - Vice-President of Programs
Sara Moncada began consulting with TCC in 2015. Co-Founder of Wise Women Circles films, Sara manages the daily operations of the organization and has primary responsibility for Production, Post Production, Marketing and Program Development. Sara brings to The Cultural Conservancy a strong start-up background as well as experience working in the not-for-profit sector. She has worked with multiple technology start up companies in the healthcare arena in the areas of marketing, product management, program management, corporate film development and Client Relations. She was previously the Managing Director for the not-for-profit Institute for Staffing Excellence and Innovations and On Nursing Excellence an organization devoted to inspiring and strengthening the effectiveness, recognition and well-being of nurses world-wide. Sara also has a unique background in the arts as an artist and educator. She is the Program Director for Sewam American Indian Dance, an organization that specializes in sharing the music, dance and arts of Native American culture across the country in both education and theatrical arenas. She is also a company member and Project Director for La Tania Baile Flamenco, sharing the art, power and beauty of traditional Flamenco.
Maya Harjo is an organic gardener and educator dedicated to restoring Native food systems through the revitalization of traditional foodways and the practice of sustainable agriculture. Maya grew up in Los Angeles, CA and attended Brown University, where she majored in International Development Studies and wrote a senior thesis on the concept of tribal sovereignty. On the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona, she collaborated with local Elders and community partners to bring a wide range of health and culture programming to tribal schools, community organizations, and the tribe’s organic farm. Her experience in Native youth education, project planning, curriculum development, and community engagement is bolstered by her love of growing food. After many years of working and volunteering for farms and gardens, she became a Farming Apprentice at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) program and recently graduated with a Certificate in Organic Horticulture. Maya applies her experience growing organic food with the direct aim of increasing access to healthy and culturally appropriate food for Native communities. She is Shawnee, Muscogee Creek, Seminole, Jewish and an enrolled member of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.
As co-facilitator of TCC’s Guardians of the Water Summer Internship, Javier applies skills woven together through lifelong engagement of dance, and environment issues, as well as a decade engaging non-profit & arts management, critical cultural studies, and indigenous issues. At Stanford University, Javier majored in Earth Systems and graduated with honors in a minor in Chican@/Latin@ Studies. Much of Javier’s consultant and administrative work supports Indigenous cultural expression and intertribal communities. He volunteers as Secretary of the powwow committee of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits(BAAITS) Powwow. As a performer and lead admin with Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations, for the last 6 years, Javier has worked in all aspects of artistic creation, from event production, to social media, outreach, development, and strategic planning. Soon after joining After joining TCC in 2015, Javier co-produced Seeds & Soul: Festival of Indigenous Cultural Exchange and Art, with co-sponsorship from The Cultural Conservancy. Javier maintains a creative performance practice, and is currently developing a two-spirit piece about Motherhood for the Performing Diaspora Artist Residency at Counterpulse, an experimental performance venue in San Francisco.