NAJA Board unanimously elects Tristan Ahtone president; Bryan Pollard joins staff as director of programs and strategic partnerships

Sterling Cosper of Mvskoke Media appointed to fill the open board position

NORMAN, Oklahoma — Bryan Pollard (Cherokee) resigned his seat on the Native American Journalists Association Board of Directors on Aug. 29, after being elected to a third term as president in July 2018. 9097_Official_Portraits

Pollard will join NAJA in the new full-time staff position of director of programs and strategic partnerships, where he will oversee programming including annual conference training, awards, the Native American Journalism Fellowship (NAJF) and the RED Press Initiative.

He will also be responsible for developing partnerships and assisting with fundraising, in accordance with the organization’s 2018-2020 strategic plan.

Pollard joins NAJA after serving as the communications director and AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator at the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas. Prior to joining the U of A, he was executive editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, the tribal news media for the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Phoenix was the first Native American newspaper originally published in 1828. He is also a founder of Street Roots, a nonprofit newspaper focused on issues of concern to the homeless and low-income citizens of Portland, Oregon.

Pollard has served as a mentor for numerous journalism organizations including the Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists, Working Press, UNITY News, Online News Association, NAJF and NAJA’s Project Phoenix. He is currently pursuing a master’s in journalism with an emphasis on documentary filmmaking.

Tristan AhtoneThe NAJA Board unanimously elected Tristan Ahtone (Kiowa) to fill the vacant president seat during the monthly meeting Aug. 30.

Ahtone is a citizen of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, a lifetime NAJA member and associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. His stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts and Columbia School of Journalism. In 2017 Ahtone was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University.

“I am truly honored and excited to serve as NAJA president,” said Ahtone. “We want to continue to provide support for Native journalists, and promote the amazing work our membership does – to ensure the highest standards of journalism and advocate for principles in line with our own unique traditions, outlooks and worldviews.”

Ahtone has served two previous terms on the board of directors and was elected to a third term during the National Native Media Conference in July 2018.  

Upon being elected as president, Ahtone appointed Sterling Cosper (Muscogee Creek) to fill Pollard’s vacancy on the board.Sterling Cosper

Cosper is the current manager of Mvskoke Media, an independent news outlet of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. He started as a reporter for the Muscogee Nation News in 2012 and was promoted to editor the following year. With key support of the news staff, he successfully advocated for the passage of free press law, during an ongoing a series of high-profile events involving the tribal government.

As manager, he has focused on restructuring the department, while optimizing the financial independence of Mvskoke Media to be a powerful advocate for Mvskoke citizens. He will continue pushing for free press protections in Indian Country through his service on the NAJA Free Press Committee.

Cosper is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and a current board member of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The remaining officers and members will continue to serve the board for the duration of their elected terms.

2018-2019 NAJA Board of Directors

  • Tristan Ahtone (Kiowa), President
  • Dr. Victoria LaPoe (Cherokee), Vice President
  • Jennifer Bell (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Treasurer
  • Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton (Cherokee), Secretary
  • Shyanne Beatty (Hangwichin Athabascan)
  • Graham Brewer (Cherokee)
  • Sterling Cosper (Muscogee Creek)
  • Jacqueline Keeler (Diné / Ihanktonwan Dakota)
  • Ramona Marozas (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

About the Native American Journalists Association

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) represents more than 500 members working in national and tribal media outlets, as independent freelancers, with associations, academic institutions and other organizations. Through programs that support diversity and defend challenges to free press, speech and expression, NAJA promotes accurate media coverage of Indian Country.

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