Cherokee Nation Citizens At-Large

Connecting the Citizens of Our Nation

Advisory Committee

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. has add an at-large advisory board via Executive Order. The purpose of which is to have active engagement with citizens living outside the Cherokee Nation reservation. Twenty five actively participating at-large organizations are represented by four individuals selected by Chief Hoskin from nominations provided by Community & Cultural Outreach (CCO), as well as at-large tribal councilors, and is chaired by CCO Director Kevin Stretch. Each committee member has agreed to represent organizations in their geographic region. They are charged with maintaining contact with organizational leadership, providing feedback and questions to the Cherokee Nation, primarily through CCO.

To view the Executive Order pertaining to at-large organizational and committee member participation:

Meet your Committee Members

Patsy Edgar from Dahlonega, GA
Patsy Edgar

Patsy lives in our Cherokee homeland, outside of Dahlonega, GA.  The Chestatee River, the last boundary of Cherokee Nation East, flows through her back yard.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Education and taught for a few years before starting work for the Internal Revenue Service.  In 30 years of employment with IRS, she served in a variety of positions from front-line to upper management.  The most rewarding assignment was her last, where as a Senior Manager, she was given the opportunity to create an outreach channel for Native Communities to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, tied to asset building programs to improve financial capacity for Native people and their communities.  The last time IRS kept records of the results of EITC and VITA promotion in Native communities, this effort brought over $73,000,000 back to Native communities in a single filing season. After retirement, she consulted with different organizations to continue that work.  She currently consults for the Oklahoma Native Asset Building Coalition. 
Patsy’s deep commitment to the preservation of Cherokee history and culture has spanned decades and stems from a strong desire to connect and contribute to the Cherokee community.  She:

  • served on the board of the Cherokee National Historical Society (which provided oversight of the Cherokee Heritage Center) for many years.  She is now an emeritus board member;
  • was founding president of the Georgia Trail of Tears Association chapter and is secretary of the Trail of Tears Association; 
  • served 2 terms on the Cherokee Nation Election Corporation (now known as the Cherokee Nation Foundation);
  • served on the inaugural board of COTTA, the forerunner to Community & Cultural Outreach; 
  • is active in the Georgia Cherokee Community Alliance and attends Cherokees of Central Florida meetings when possible.

Patsy has a strong interest in strengthening the connection of the Nation with at-large citizens. She applauds efforts to educate at-large citizens in our history and culture and would like to see more education for at-large citizens in how they can help the Cherokee Nation.
Patsy is deeply honored to have been selected by Chief Hoskin to serve on the inaugural At-Large Advisory Committee. 

 Cynthia M Ruiz 

Cynthia Ruiz

Cynthia M. Ruiz is a Professor, Executive Coach, Best Selling Author, Inspirational Speaker and Leadership Expert. Receiving over 50 accolades and awards for her leadership and service to the community. 
She is a registered citizen in the Cherokee Nation and is a Council member of the Los Angeles Cherokee Nation affiliate. Her Cherokee name is “Lion Mother” which she strives to live up to each and every day. 
Cynthia currently serves as Commission President for LACERS (Los Angeles City Employee Retirement System) overseeing a multibillion-dollar pension portfolio. 
Coming from blended cultures Latina and Native American (Mexican & Cherokee), she enjoys a passion for life and a profound appreciation for Mother Earth. 
As a Professor she received the “Presidents Award” from the University of West Los Angeles for her work as an outstanding Professor. Cynthia teaches leadership at both the graduate and undergraduate level in the School of Business. She has over twenty years of experience teaching and public speaking. 
Ms. Ruiz received the 2019 Community Leader of the Year Award from Cherokee Nation. Hispanic Lifestyle named her a “2018 Latina of Influence”. She has received the prestigious Hollywood Chamber “Women of Distinction Award, the HOPE “Ray of Hope” award and the Weingart, “Women Building LA Award. Twice the California Apparel News has listed her on their renowned List of Influential People and LA Weekly showcased her in their people addition. 
Her career has placed her in many leadership roles including President of the Board of Public Works for the City of Los Angeles where she had direct oversight of 5,000 employees and just under a billion dollar per year budget. She has worked as an Executive at the number one container Port in the US and successfully runs her own business. 
Today Cynthia’s focus is developing other leaders through her thriving Executive Coaching business where she helps transform some of LA’s top executives into powerful leaders. She has developed “7 Steps for Team Success” along with many other management tools to help manage a team. Her business model includes pro bono coaching client as a way of investing in the future generations. 
Holding a Masters of Science Degree in Counseling from California State University Los Angeles, Ruiz has also completed a Leadership Course at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government. 
She has been a trailblazer throughout her career as she has been the first person in her family to attend college and the first Latina/Native American to be President of both LACERS Board and Board of Public Works for the City of Los Angeles. 
Cynthia Ruiz knows the importance of giving back and always strives to stay humble. She has a passion for women empowerment and started the 
Wise Latina Network and is a co-founder of the Yo Tambien Healing Movement. 

Robert Wood

Robert “Rob” Wood’s Grandmother Alice Delora Addington was born in Indian Territory in 1893,  She along with her mother and nine siblings, are original Dawes Roll enrollees.  The family are “Old Settlers” from the Westville area.  Rob’s forth Great-Grandfather Malachi Parris and Grandmother Mahala Parris are buried in the Parris Cemetery near Westville.  Rob is also a fifth generation Northern Californian on his mother’s side.  Though born in California, Rob has always had a strong association with his Cherokee heritage, leading him in obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Sacramento, in American history, with an emphasis in western American history and Native American history and culture.   Rob served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War era from 1967 to 1969 and in the Army National Guard during Desert Storm from 1990 to 1993,  He served in the 1992 Los Angeles Riot.  Rob was Spokesperson for the Cherokees of the Central Northern Valley (CNCV) At-Large community for more than 10 years.  He was instrumental in reorganizing and renaming the CNCV through the California Secretary of State’s Office and giving it a new start in the early 2000s.  He has assisted Councilmember Julia Coates in the presentation of the Cherokee Nation History Course on two different occasions.  He is currently a CNCV Councilmember.

Rob has worked for the State of California for over 40 years, 27 with California State Parks and nearly 15 years with the California Native American Heritage Commission,.  From 1975 to 2010, Rob was with  State Parks.  In the 1980s, he was involved in the development of three of the Department’s Regional Indian Museums. Between 1994 and 1998 he was coordinator for State Parks’ response to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA).

In 2000 Rob began working at the Native American Heritage Commission.  He was the Commission’s representative for California coastal counties from San Luis Obispo to Orange, as well as Kings, Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties.  Among his duties was responding, in accordance with California State laws, to discoveries of Native American human remains and associated grave items.  He also reviewed and analyzed development project impacts, subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), with the goal of protecting California Native American traditional cultural places.

In 2007 Rob returned to State Parks. Until his retirement in 2010, he was responsible for the operations of the State Indian Museum in Sacramento and served as Development Coordinator for the California Indian Heritage Center Project.  The Heritage Center will eventually replace the 4,000 square-foot State Indian Museum, built in 1940, with a 125,000 square-foot facility.  Since 2010, Rob has been back with the Native American Heritage Commission where he is working on training programs, procedures, and state regulations for the protection of and access to sacred places for California Native Americans. 

From 1990 to 1994, Rob was also the Curator of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s State Capitol Museum, responsible for the Museum’s collections and exhibit programs, including research, planning, acquisition, and the supervision of a five person staff.  He represented the Museum to the legislature, state agencies, and the public.  He acted as the Museum’s Director, for over a year, which included supervision of over 30 full-time and seasonal staff, and 50 volunteers.  Between 1979 and 1982, during the State Capitol’s Restoration, he was the Project’s Furnishings Historian, responsible for the development of the Capitol Museum’s nine historic rooms, which are still hosting visitors from throughout the State and world.

Wade McAlister from Houston, TX
Wade McAlister
Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Office of Communications

Wade McAlister, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the McGovern Medical School, a part of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas.  He specializes in knee and shoulder surgery with a focus on joint replacement and sports medicine.  He practices at LBJ Hospital, a county hospital serving the uninsured and under-insured residents of Harris County.  His grandfather and great grandmother are listed on the Dawes’ Roll.  Although Dr. McAlister grew up outside the Cherokee Nation, his father made sure he was raised with special attention to his Cherokee roots.  As a child he would read the Cherokee Phoenix and was intrigued by a ceramic copy of the Cherokee Syllabary his father had in his study.  Prior to medical school, he taught English as a foreign language in Japan.  While there, he educated his Japanese junior high school students about the Cherokee.  He returned to Houston after completing his medical training in Lubbock, El Paso, Albany, and New York City and has been active in the local Cherokee community for nearly 20 years.  He and his siblings would dance with their father at stomp dances at a local ground before it was destroyed by a hurricane and subsequently sold by its owner.  He has served in several Board positions with the Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas for over ten years.  Dr. McAlister is honored and humbled to have been selected by Chief Hoskin to serve on the newly created At Large Advisory Board.

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