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.
Meet your Committee Members
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 Education 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 [email protected].
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 [email protected]
Bruce West is a former spokesperson for the Cherokee’s of Northern Central Valley based out of Sacramento CA. I have recently been selected to be on the committee to represent the At-Large organizations within the Cherokee Nation and look forward to meeting and working with all of you.
Mr. West recently retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons after serving 30 years. During his tenure, he have held many simultaneous positions, primarily serving as a construction and maintenance supervisor, apprenticeship programs coordinator and instructor. In addition to regular duties, Bruce was a special operations response team operator and training instructor for almost 22 years. His experience in such an environment has given him the communication skills to adapt and work with others and truly believe in working on issues as a team.
His Cherokee lineage comes from his great grandmother Callie Landers who was born and raised in the Delaware District and is on the original Dawes Roll. Bruce is a registered Cherokee citizen as well as his brother, sisters and three sons. The Wests, as a family, have always been involved with their Cherokee heritage and culture.
As a recent retiree, Bruce enjoys spending time working on a variety of cultural projects such as soapstone carving and now bow making. In fact he is currently working on his first long bow from a wood stave gifted to him by a Cherokee National Treasure and look forward to sharing the finished product with my family and friends.
Bruce is very excited to represent your organizations and hopes he can be of service to the success of your community. Please, feel free to contact him, anytime.
Bruce is taking Dr. Robert Wood’s position on the advisory board, as Dr. Wood tends to personal matters. We extend an uton wado (big thank you) for his leadership in the Cherokee community, and his participation on this committee. ~Kevin Stretch
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 [email protected]
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!