Our staff at MIGIZI are dedicated to the success and well-being of our young Native people. We work hard for our community with years of experience and innovative ideas.
Lead Renewable Energy Instructor
Kerry has had a lifelong passion for renewable energy, sustainability, and understanding how humans can coexist on this planet peacefully with each other and the natural environment. He recently obtained his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering with a Minor in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where his research investigated ways to improve manufacturing of silicon solar cells. While at the U, he also founded the UMN Energy Club in 2015, a student organization dedicated to developing student leadership in energy by understanding holistically how energy affects every aspect of our lives – from food and water to government and economics to social justice. He is excited to continue developing Native youth to become leaders in energy as MIGIZI’s Lead Renewable Energy Instructor. Outside of teaching, Kerry also spends his time volunteering with local climate and environmental justice organizations. He enjoys partner acrobatics, Bollywood dancing, and martial arts and looks forward to the day when he can enjoy those activities safely again.
Academic Support Specialist
Ntxhee Xiong is a child of Hmong refugee parents who came to the United States about 40 years ago from the refugee camps in Thailand after the Vietnam War. She was born and raised in Two Rivers, WI and she is the second youngest of out nine siblings. In May of 2017 she received her Bachelor's degree in Arts, Humanities, and Social Science in the major area study of Human Development from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, she then went on to graduate school to pursue her Master’s degree in Education in the program of Student Affairs Administration for Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and graduated in May of 2019. As a first-generation college student, Ntxhee was the fifth person in her family to receive her Bachelor’s degree and fourth person in her family to receive her Master’s degree.
Ntxhee’s passion is to give back to the community, volunteering, and being a great role model to the youth. She hopes to inspire the youth to continue onto post-secondary education and learn to give back to those who have less. With her role as an Academic Support Specialist, she hopes to build a learning style in which will help Indigenous students be more engaged in school and connect students with great opportunities outside of the classroom and school through community work, empowerment, and leadership.
Lead Media Specialist
Binesikwe Means was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe in Pine Ridge South Dakota. Her name Binesikwe (Bi-Nay-See-Kway) is from the Ojibwe language meaning “Thunderbird Woman”. Binesikwe has worked as a teaching artist with In Progress for six years in many schools and tribal communities. She currently has worked for MIGIZI for three years as a New Media Team Lead for First Person Productions a youth led social enterprise that produces videos, design work and social media campaigns for small businesses and non-profits.
Youth Development Specialist
Niizhoogabaw (Two-Standing) Wahpepah is Leech Lake Ojibwe, Kickapoo and Sac n Fox. He grew up in Minneapolis and has worked in the Native American community since he was 18. His focus has been on student academic and language development. His passion stems from his own experiences as a youth participating in the cultural and language revival of the Ojibwe language through community efforts. Prior to working with Migizi Communications, Niizhoogabaw has worked with Saint Paul Public Schools as the Ojibwe language teacher at American Indian Magnet School and as the Academic Advisor at South High School for Upward Bound Vision Quest - U of M Duluth. Niizhoogabaw has also done Ojibwe Language consultant work with different school districts throughout the metro and is currently working with the Saint Paul J.O.M. program and Interfaith Action Division of Indian Work.
Tedi Grey Owl
Academic Internship Specialist
Tedi Grey Owl is a citizen of the Haudensaunee Seneca Nation - Heron Clan. Tedi is currently the Academic Intern Specialist for MIGIZI. Tedi has worked to provide academic and cultural support for Indigenous students in urban and suburban school districts in the Greater-Minneapolis & St. Paul area for three decades. She was born and raised in Two Rivers, WI and she is the second youngest of nine siblings.
Director of Partnerships & Operations
Melissa (she/her/hers) is an Indigenous person of mixed Anishinaabe and Euro-American heritage, a tribal citizen of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe at Leech Lake.
For the past several years, Melissa has worked as a writer and producer of independent public media serving as the co-managing editor the MinneCulture program at KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio in Minneapolis. Melissa also worked as a producer for MinneCulture for 2 years producing a number of short stories, and was honored to have been awarded a Page One – Third Place prize from the MN Society for Professional Journalists for her work on a short story called the An Unvarnished, Unholy Tour of Franklin Avenue.
Melissa came to work with MIGIZI on an on-going project to digitize and preserve the Migizi Communications legacy radio archive, a digitization project encompassing 15-plus years of first-in-time radio programming produced by MIGIZI's First Person Radio. Melissa brings her experience with project management to her new role with MIGIZI as a Director of Partnerships and Operations.
Melissa is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal, and completed three years of doctoral study between 2003 and 2006, a proud recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in American Studies.
In her free time at home, Melissa enjoys listening to music, watching TV, reading, and writing. Melissa lives in Minneapolis with her longtime partner John and their dog Bronson.
Strategic Projects Director
John Gwinn has been at MIGIZI for over 13 years. Before that, he led his own youth media nonprofit called PCTV, Phillips Community Television. He also co-founded the Twin Cities Youth Media Network and is on the community faculty at the School of Social work at the University of Minnesota. He has also produced his own media productions and is a writer and can been seen playing drums in some local bands.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Jacob majored in business marketing and management at the University of North Dakota and was involved in many experiences there such as, but not limited to, a 7 month marketing research project that was furthered in China, a team member of a television show's social media campaigns, and an opportunity to work with the University of North Dakota's Marketing and Creative Services that helped transition UND from the Fighting Sioux to the Fighting Hawks.
He began his journey at MIGIZI as an AmeriCorps VISTA in August of 2018 and after his one-year commitment, was hired as a core MIGIZI team member. He is working diligently to ensure that MIGIZI and it's community is effectively communicating what is important and true to people's heart.
He is passionate about his community and enjoys exploring new music and cities. His favorite song is unknown as he likes too many but, his favorite cities to visit are Seattle and New York City.
Prior to joining MIGIZI in November 2018, Kelly served as founding President and CEO of the Tiwahe Foundation for seven years, Tiwahe is an American Indian community foundation which focuses on providing micro grants to American Indian communities, strengthening leadership initiatives and network building. During her 20 years of philanthropy and non-profit work, Kelly has worked with the Jewish Community Foundation, The Family Partnership, Headwaters Foundation for Justice, and New Foundations – a Project for Pride in Living program. Kelly currently serves on the Saint Paul Foundation Community Impact Grants Committee, The Family Partnership Board of Directors and other projects that benefit American Indian Woman and youth. She holds a M.A. degree in Philanthropy and Development from St. Mary’s University and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Minnesota. Kelly currently lives in NE Minneapolis with her husband and two children.