Skip Navigation


large group of people standing together for a photo at a conference

Oklahoma Native American
Students in Higher Education

February 9-10, 2024
University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK)




Conference Agenda

Click Here

Conference Registration

Click Here

Overview of ONASHE

The goal of the conference is to provide opportunities for Native American students and professionals from various institutions across the state of Oklahoma to continue to develop and strengthen their leadership skills by interacting with current tribal leaders, participate in workshops that are relevant to contemporary student and leadership issues and create powerful networks promoting higher education for Native students.

Hotel Information

ONASHE hotel group rates at: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Norman, an IHG Hotel
2500 Conference Dr, Norman, OK 73069
(405) 928-5300

Rates at $107.00/night 

Reservations must be made by Tuesday, January 9, for ONASHE group rate: Link to website (call for reservations for group rate)

Man in blue suit with red tie smiling and standing next to an American flag

Friday, February 9-Opening Keynote
Julian Guerrero 

Julian Guerrero Jr. is the Director for the Office of Indian Education at the United States Department of Education. An enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation and affiliated with the Kiowa Tribe, Director Guerrero has been a civil servant at the Department since 2020. He is responsible for the oversight and administration of $195 million dollars in Title VI, Part A programs including: 1,300+ formula grants, 400+ competitive grants, the National Indian Education Study, and the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. Director Guerrero’s vision emphasizes the importance of how Tribal consultation and collaboration can bring authenticity to the work of the OIE.

Prior to his federal service, Director Guerrero brings experience working across Tribal, State, and nonprofit sectors. He began his career in public service as a student scholarship coordinator with the University of Oklahoma. He later began work in the nonprofit sector as Associate Director of the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly and later moved to becoming the Executive Director of American Indian Education for the State of Oklahoma. Concurrent to his Tribal and State level work, Director Guerrero served as a Tribal Gaming Commissioner, responsible for the oversight and regulation of all Comanche Nation casino properties across southwest Oklahoma.

Director Guerrero has served on various national, state, and local advisory boards including the National Indian Education Association, Oklahoma City YMCA Youth and Government program, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s in Public Affairs and Administration and Master of Public Administration – Mr. Guerrero believes in the promise that public government must and will do better for all.

Saturday, February 10-Opening Plenary Panel
Dr. Johnny Poolaw, Dr. Tiffany Smith, Tesia Zientek

Man in dark sport coat with teal shirt and dark hair pulled back
Dr. Johnny Poolaw
Woman with short curly hair sitting on teal chair, wearing bright pink blazer
Dr. Tiffany Smith
Woman with long dark hair wearing black shirt and long Native earrings.
Tesia Zientek



Dr. Johnny Poolaw is a citizen of the Delaware Nation and is also a descendent of the Chiricahua Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Nations. Dr. Poolaw currently serves as the Director of Student Success for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). Dr. Poolaw has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Cameron University, and Master and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Oklahoma. For the past 20 years, Johnny has served his Indigenous community and primarily Indigenous students in higher education in various roles. Prior to AISES, he was the Acting Tribal Liaison Officer for the University of Oklahoma and before that role, he served as an instructor, and as the Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs at the Comanche Nation Tribal College in Lawton, Oklahoma.


Dr. Tiffany Smith is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a descendent of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Dr. Smith serves as the Director of Research and Career Support for AISES where she provides strategic leadership, management, and overall direction of AISES’ research and related projects. She completed her Ph.D. in Student Affairs Administration in 2019 at the University of Oklahoma.


Prior to coming to AISES, Dr. Smith worked for 16 years in various aspects of higher education. Dr. Smith continues to teach graduate courses in higher education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Additionally, she served as the National Chair for NASPA’s Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community from 2021-2023 and has served on the NASPA Conference Leadership Committee for the 2021 and 2022 conferences. Recently, Dr. Smith was named a Class of 2024 NASPA Pillar of the Profession. She hopes her work will contribute to visibility of Indigenous students and professionals in STEM.


Tesia Zientek is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal citizen. With help from a Gates Millennium Scholarship, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 2009 with her B.A. in English. After graduation, Tesia spent two years teaching and running an afterschool program in Puerto Rico before pursuing her M.A. in Education Policy from Stanford University in 2013. To celebrate her achievements, Tesia has received the Howard Yackus Memorial, NextGen 30 Under 30, NCAIED Native American 40 Under 40, and Oklahoma Magazine 40 Under 40 awards. In 2015, she established her tribe’s first Department of Education and served as Director through 2023. For ten years, Tesia also served as Potawatomi Leadership Program Advisor, building curriculum for the Harvard Honoring Nations Award-winning internship program. Tesia currently works for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) as Senior Director of Programs to promote the advancement of Indigenous people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She serves as President of the National Indian Education Association and President of the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education.

Woman with gray/black hair and colorful scarf leaning back and looking at the camera

Saturday, February 10-Lunch Keynote
 Dr. Dolores Subia BigFoot

Dolores Subia BigFoot, Ph.D., a child psychologist by training, is a Presidential Professor who directs the Indian Country Child Trauma Center within the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Funded since 1994 by the Children’s Bureau, she has directed Project Making Medicine, a clinical training program to training mental health providers in the treatment of child maltreatment using culturally based teachings. With the establishment of the Indian Country Child Trauma Center in 2004, she was instrumental in the cultural adaptations of four evidenced-based child treatment protocols. In 2020 Dr. BigFoot was awarded the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide support and assistance to suicide prevention programs across the country.

large group of people sitting in chairs listening to a speaker at a conference
group of people playing a game on a lawn
large group photo of people at a conference, taken from above