Cherokee Nation Citizens At-Large

Connecting the Citizens of Our Nation

Advisory Committee

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. has added 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. The committee is chaired by CCO Director Kevin Stretch, ex officio. Each committee member has agreed to represent organizations in their geographic region. They are charged with maintaining organizational leadership contact, 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. 

Contact Ms. Edgar at

 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. 

Contact Ms. Ruiz at

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 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.

Contact Mr. Wood

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.

Contact Dr. McAlister at

Kevin Stretch from Tahlequah, OK
Kevin Stretch

A graduate of Connors State College, AA, Northeastern State University, BSIT, BA, MA, and Capella University, MSEd.
Kevin has worked in several fields leading up to working for the Cherokee Nation, graphic arts, in higher education,  instructional design, database development, graphics and technology instructor.
As an older adult, he wanted to promote to the culture denied as a youth. This work, which he is very passionate about, is to be his legacy. Hired for his digital, graphics and organizational skills, Kevin developed graphics and videos documenting the Cherokee culture; the entire processes. With cultural sensitivity in mind, he was attempting to capture as much of the culture: stories, skills and knowledge. Currently, CCO is planning to record First-language, Cherokee Speakers, National Treasures and elders, attempting to capture their stories, their history and traditions, and their dialogue. Mr. Stretch not a Speaker, although he continue to learn. Over the course of 7+ years at The Nation, his experiences have been rich with exposure to Cherokees, our culture and community. He always humbly attempts to be conscientious and respectful of traditions, especially toward elders and ceremonial issues.
Growing up, Kevin’s Cherokee grandfather, who called him Sgasdi, used to take him hunting and gigging a lot. Doda’s mother (Nellie) who, along with Kevin’s great-great grandmother (Ida Creeden)(tse ge sv),  were Dawes enrollees. He was honored to have been a teenage pallbearer for Nellie. Unfortunately, while she was alive, she didn’t pass on much by means of cultural stories, because she was raised in the same era of culture-shaming that threatens our language’s future. She and many of Mr. Stretch’s ancestors are interred in White Oak Cemetery in Qualls, OK.
While at CN Kevin has participated in oversight/judging/mentoring/teaching/training roles with both young Cherokees and elders. Additionally, he teaches Olympic fencing and assist in the Academy of Performing Arts, including the Cherokee non-profit Encore! Performing Society, whose students range from 4-60.
Stretch feels this important to show he has long desired to promote and preserve the culture, but his (ani)yonega life got in the way, until he came to the CN.
Kevin was honored to have been selected as a 2019 Remember the Removal Bicycle mentor rider, the annual event for select few Cherokees, traces one of the 17 routes taken by our ancestors during the Forced Removal era, covering the 950 miles of the Northern Route. They trained for six months, but also had intensive cultural, language and history, especially as with the Removal era. The most difficult times on the ride were dealing with the emotional toll being on the “Trail” standing in the footsteps of our ancestors as the struggled, witnessing unimaginable cruelty, hardships, and death. As a mentor Kevin was charged was to encourage the younger riders as they struggled physically, mentally, and spiritually.
My learning continues every day, and cultural pursuits for the future of Cherokees is his motivation.
Mr. Stretch documented his perspective of RTR’19 on his Facebook page.
As a traveling member of the CN’s at-large events, he has the unique opportunity to also share CCO’s issues and opportunities with those citizens, some 280,000. His respect for the citizens  who live outside the 14-county tribal reservation runs deep. To be geographically separated from your family and your heritage, and yet possess the motivation to reach out, connect, and learn what you can about the people and culture is a phenomenal encounter, you seek out, and share stories, and pass on the traditions, many without ever having the opportunity to return to the Cherokee Nation. Let there be no doubt you are ALL Cherokee citizens!

“ The most fulfilled people are the ones who get up every morning and stand for something larger than themselves. They are the people who care about others, who will extend a helping hand to someone in …” 
― Wilma Mankiller

Stretch is honored to be the Director of CCO as well as the Chair of this great committee. The responsibilities are great, the staff and communities are greater! He has always felt CCO has a huge and diverse reach and responsibilities. CCO is few in numbers, but everyone one works hard and cares about your…OUR communities!

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