Board of Directors

Eric Ortiz, Chair & Executive Director – A resident of the Lowry Hill East neighborhood in Minneapolis, Eric has extensive experience in journalism, community building, and social justice innovation with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He oversees all community programming and operations for the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation, creating curriculums and leading community programs that empower youth to build leadership skills and increase educational and economic opportunities. He develops and manages partnerships with schools, businesses, and community groups to provide educational programs and resources. Eric also is a longtime journalist and the former founder of Evrybit, a citizen journalism app startup and mobile storytelling platform that democratized community journalism. Contact him at

Annette Mennem – Director of the Native American Center at Minot State University, commissioner on Minot’s Planning Commission, a member of the Prairie Public Broadcasting Community Action Board. Annette is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

Jennifer Rousey – A middle school teacher for 14 years, of her career teaching in urban schools, Ms. Rousey says, “Teaching in high-need schools was my Plan A. I always wanted to teach and I wanted to teach in these schools, which is why I deliberately chose the USC program that gave me an opportunity to student teach in Los Angeles.”

Travis Kuualiialoha Browne – Co-founder of Browsey Acres, an agricultural business focused on sustainable and ethical farming. Travis divides his time between farms in California, Oregon and his homeland of Hawaii.

Youth Programs Director

Dr. AnnMaria De Mars is a serial entrepreneur and technology executive, founding The Julia Group and co-founding 7 Generation Games and Spirit Lake Consulting. Her forty-year career has been focused on expanding educational opportunities for youth and educators in under-served communities. Contact her at

Educational Programs Director

Juliana (White Bull) Taken Alive is Hunkpapa/Mnicoujou Lakota and an enrolled citizen of the Standing Rock Nation. She brings experiences in teaching, administration, instructional coaching, education policy in public and tribally controlled schools, student support services at tribal colleges, and Indigenous education consulting. She was the Standing Rock Education Consortium programs manager for the Standing Rock Tribal Education Department. Ms. Taken Alive manages the Growing Math project for the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation and is involved in development of programs and curriculum for education and youth services, with a particular focus on Indigenous communities. Contact her at