BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nico Albert Williams (ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ Cherokee Nation) is a chef, caterer and student of traditional Indigenous cuisines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She began her culinary education growing up in California and Arizona, spending time in her mother’s garden and in the kitchen preparing family meals. After relocating to Northeastern Oklahoma, Nico embraced her return to the post-removal homeland of her mother’s people as a calling and opportunity to reestablish a relationship with her Cherokee community, first and foremost through the language of food. Her journey to learn traditional Cherokee ways, dishes and the wild and cultivated ingredients involved in their preparation grew to encompass the Indigenous cuisines of tribes from all parts of Turtle Island and led to her involvement in Indigenous food revitalization and food sovereignty.
Nico is the Executive Chef behind the catering services offered by Burning Cedar Sovereign Kitchen. Her work centers on the revitalization of ancestral Indigenous foodways to promote healing and wellness in the Native American community. Her efforts to steadily expand her knowledge of traditional ingredients and techniques continue through research and collaboration with Indigenous chefs and traditionalists from all Nations. Nico is the recipient of the 2021 Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission Dream Keeper's Award for Leadership in Business, the 2022 Cherokee Phoenix Seven Feathers Award for Culture, and her work has been featured regionally and nationally by Food Network Magazine, USA Today, Hulu, BBC, Cherokee Nation's OsiyoTV, Smithsonian Institute, King Arthur Baking Co, Atlas Obscura, PBS, Gilcrease Museum, and Philbrook Museum among others.
Nico serves as a board member for Matriarch, a 501(c)(3) Native led program empowering Native women through education, community building, and direct services to create positive change within communities in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Matriarch services include domestic and sexual abuse education, cultural re-connection, suicide prevention, financial planning, physical, mental and spiritual health education, job market preparation, and healthy relationship guidance.
Nico also serves on the Gilcrease Museum Community Advisory Committee and the board of The Goff Center of the Continuous Present.
“Initiating wellness in our communities has never been more crucial for our people. Eat like your life depends on it, because it does.” - Mary Jo Pratt
Recognizing the impact food had on her own journey to a better quality of life, Mary Jo is energized and inspired to support, create, develop and deliver wellness to our communities.
Mary Jo currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Bacone College, a private non-profit institution of higher education that was originally founded in 1880 as The Indian University.
The mission of higher education resonated with her because her personal constitution directly aligns with the mission to empower people to take ownership of their future through education. This means elevating human potential and creating a new pathway for our people to new beginnings. The ultimate goal of our efforts is to reduce gaps because we know education elevates the human condition and advances human potential.
Mary Jo brings over 10 years of progressive financial management experience and five years of techno-functional experience implementing/supporting business operations, applications, and software as well as financial experience across the nonprofit, private and tribal businesses. Having served in corporate accounting, finance and development, Mary Jo's experience also includes creating and maintaining multimillion dollar budgets.
Ashley Dailey began her career in 2010 working as a new home sales associate for local builders in the Tulsa, OK greater area. In the middle of a tough market, Ashley found a way to revitalize slow moving new home developments.
Ashley was featured twice in the national association of home builders marketing magazine for her work in the Tulsa, OK area. In 2015 she became a licensed REALTOR and joined Keller Williams Realty Premier in Owasso, OK. By 2018, she was a full time agent and in 2020 she was the top producing agent in the brokerage. Ashley served two years on the Agent Leadership Council at KWRP. She is the social equity task force ambassador for the brokerage, she has her Agent of Distinction Diversity certification through KW and her At Home With Diversity Cert through NAR. Diversity, equity and inclusion in real estate and the world around her, is Ashley’s passion and heart work.
In 2021, Ashley started her real estate team of diverse working moms, Dailey Properties, they closed 87 units their first year as a team, are listed in the local TOP 10% of REALTORS and went Quad Gold in production. They are the only Latina lead all female real estate team in the Tulsa, OK area. Ashley lives in Tulsa, OK w/ her husband Amos, their two rescue dogs, Frida and Maggie and her two adult kids, Dax and Mady live nearby, Dax works for Dailey Properties and Mady owns her own lash salon. She devotes time to local rescues, domestic violence organizations, and spreading awareness about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. Ashley believes in the power of home ownership and spreads the message everywhere she goes- owning real estate enhances lives and builds wealth.
Blue Bird Jernigan
board member + grant specialist
Dr. Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan is a Choctaw woman and Professor of Medicine and Rural Health. She received her Doctorate in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease prevention at Stanford University, where she also completed a degree in documentary filmmaking. She is the Principal Investigator of more than a dozen research studies aimed at improving Indigenous food environments through policy and systems interventions. She also leads the Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity, funded by the Office of Minority Health. Dr. Jernigan is a member of the Canadian Institutes of Health research College of Reviewers. She is the inaugural chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Intervention Research to Improve Native Health (IRINAH) initiative, a collaboration of NIH-funded investigators conducting intervention science research. In 2019 she established and now directs the Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy (CIHRP), an endowed research Center of Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences. In all of her work she has focused on fostering long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities that promote tribal sovereignty and build community capacity to improve health.