The 2021 Potawatomi Leadership Program participants spent the summer
learning about the Citizen Potawatomi Nation virtually due to the
pandemic. The 2021 class consisted of 23 members, and the Hownikan
asked every participant some introductory questions. Meet 12 of
Alden Davison | Hometown: Puyallup, Washington
Alden Davison is a junior at Arizona State
University in Tempe, Arizona, studying computer science. He
founded a computer programming club at ASU and served as a
teaching assistant. He enjoys swimming, singing and learning
languages. He knows German and is a pinball master.
Davison believes leadership comes from confident
decision making and that few structures exist where
one can lead by passively dedicating the amount of effort
The Kennedy/Weld/Ogee descendant applied for
the PLP to learn more about the Tribes culture and government
as well as meet other CPN members. Making moccasins was one
of his favorite activities as well as learning about Native
agricultures cultural connection to the land.
Alexis Ladner | Hometown: Shawnee, Kansas
Alexis Lexie Ladner attends Johnson
County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. She hopes
to become a radiology technician after completing her degree.
The Bourbonnais family descendants genealogy traces
back to Antoine Bourbonnais, namesake of the Bourbonnais Cabin
that still stands next to CPNs Cultural Heritage Center.
Ladner enjoys the outdoors, including horseback riding, hunting
and skeet shooting.
She believes responsibility and dependability
define leadership. I think a leader puts people first
and are empathetic and they try to connect with people,
she said. They have to be open minded and creative along
with being flexible.
Ladner learned about her ancestors and their
history, culture, diet and more while being a part of the
PLP. She hopes to pass the knowledge along to the next generations.
Anna Stites | Hometown: Newbern, Tennessee
Greemore family descendant Anna Stites applied
to the PLP in an effort to learn more about her Tribe. She
begins her junior year at Murray State University in Kentucky
in fall 2021, studying chemistry with hopes to attend medical
school after her bachelors and become a physician.
As a female physician starting out at
a young age, it may be more difficult to gain trust within
communities, Stites said. I plan to overcome this
barrier by being hardworking and trustworthy. Once trust is
gained, many of my barriers will be overcome.
She also finds loyalty an admirable leadership
quality and describes herself as caring and
compassionate. Stites enjoys reading, swimming and snowboarding.
Autumn Johnson | Hometown: Quitman, Arkansas
Autumn Johnson recently discovered her matriarchal
line of Potawatomi ancestry and enrolled as a Tribal member.
As a part of the PLP, she looked forward to learning more
about CPN and passing on the history and culture to others.
She hoped to learn about traditional foods, in particular.
Johnson returns to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway
this fall as a junior studying nursing.
Johnson began playing sports at 3 years old.
She participated in softball throughout high school and learned
how to lead the team.
I never missed a practice, hoping to
lead as an example for the younger girls on my team. ... I
constantly worked hard to prove to the others on the team
that hard work would get us back in the finals, Johnson
She believes a good leader knows how to communicate.
Bailey Pendley | Hometown: Pryor, Oklahoma
Bailey Pendley felt compelled to apply for
the PLP after discussing family lineage with a friend and
realizing she needed more knowledge. She keeps a busy schedule
as a student at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and returns
this fall as a senior studying microbiology. Pendley hopes
to continue and finish medical school to serve rural and tribal
The LeClaire family descendant attempts to
set herself aside as a leader at her part-time jobs, in class
and at home.
Work ethic, communication and perseverance
are all qualities that come to mind when I think about a leader,
Pendley enjoys exercising, gardening, reading,
traveling and cooking.
Braden Bruehl | Hometown: Norman, Oklahoma
Braden Bruehl hoped to learn more about his
Potawatomi heritage and culture throughout the PLP as well
as develop his leadership skills. Throughout his experience
as a youth leader at his church, he learned that being
a leader is not at all about the personal gain
or pride, but the giving back to the community so that you
can continue to make a difference in the lives of others,
He admires Chairman John Rocky
Barrett for his accomplishments as CPNs leader and hopes
to give back to the Tribe after completing medical school.
The Pambogo family descendant began his freshman year this
month at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, studying chemistry
as a pre-med student. He enjoys traveling, hiking and playing
soccer in his free time.
Brenna Kishkikwé (Cedar Woman) Kelly | Hometown:
Missouri City, Texas
Brenna Kelly followed her sisters footsteps
and applied for the PLP after hearing about her experience
and the different connections it created. Kelly looked forward
to learning about traditions, language and business the most.
As a sophomore at the University of Dallas in Texas, she studies
business and marketing.
The Melott and Bergeron family descendant
has played softball as a catcher and carries leadership lessons
from the field into her everyday life.
Being a leader is active, not passive,
and it requires you to work just as hard as those around you,
Kelly hopes to participate in future activities
with the Tribe and bring the fierceness and bravery of her
aunt and grandmother who have walked on.
Caelin Fillingim | Hometown: Port Orchard, Washington
Caelin Fillingim started learning about CPN
at 18 years old and saw the PLP as an opportunity to expand
her knowledge and get involved. The Copaugh family descendant
looked forward to beading classes and learning more about
traditional ecological knowledge. As a visual communication
design major at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Fillingim
enjoys Potawatomi floral patterns in particular.
She believes leadership includes a balance
of service and self-care.
It is important that a leader views
themselves as a servant to the people who placed them in leadership,
rather than getting caught up in their own agenda, Fillingim
She hopes to pass along all she learns to
her future children while continuing to serve the Tribe.
CeAirra Bowman | Hometown: Safford, Arizona
As a biology and behavioral health major at
Arizona Christian University in Phoenix, CeAirra Bowman plans
to become as a physicians assistant or physician. She
begins her senior year of college as a Certified Nursing Assistant
and phlebotomist with her CPR certification. The Milot family
descendant works at a local nursing home.
Bowman considers herself a leader at work
and on ACUs volleyball team.
Being a leader means being an inspirational
character in the community you live in, someone who possesses
the qualities to bring out the best in others, and loves God
and others above all, she said.
Bowman fills her free time with traveling,
hiking and caring for animals on her familys farm.
Daniel Adams | Hometown: Port Washington, Ohio
Daniel Adams decided to apply for the PLP to
connect with Tribal culture and learn CPN history but also
to use the information he learns later in his career. As an
integrated social studies major at Malone University in Canton,
Ohio, he plans to become a history teacher or professor. Adams
wants to highlight Native history in a new way for future
The Toupin family descendant uses his leadership
skills as a resident advisor at Malone, including adaptability
We have all failed before, but what
makes us grow from that failure is one being able to
hold themselves accountable for their mistake or failure,
When not completing classwork or managing
the dorms, he enjoys restoring tractors, bowling and bonfires.
Eli McKown | Hometown: Clayton, Michigan
Eli McKown attends Michigan State University
in East Lansing. He enjoys writing and sports, which makes
sports journalism his ideal major. He begins his junior year
this fall and will continue covering university athletics
for The State News, MSUs student newspaper. McKown ran
cross-country in high school and enjoys playing basketball.
He grew up on a farm in Clayton, Michigan, raising cattle
and planting crops.
He describes himself as consistent, yet versatile,
and believes leaders should be selfless in their work.
They have to be able to understand when
a moment is bigger than them and make the right decisions
or do the thing that others wont to help move forward,
He applied for the PLP to better connect with
his heritage and learn about Potawatomi cuisine.
Grace Laughton | Hometown: Mission, Kansas
Grace Laughton describes herself as friendly,
talkative and outgoing. As a theatre and film major at Johnson
County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, she enjoys
collaborating with and directing crews for stage productions.
A good leader should have integrity,
be able to communicate with their team effectively, bring
people together in times of hardship, motivate others, and,
most importantly, inspire greatness and transformation among
the people they lead, Laughton said.
She applied for the PLP to learn more about
Potawatomi culture and her heritage. Her favorite activities
included beading classes and making moccasins, and Laughton
hopes to pass the skills along to other Tribal members.
Hannah Nystrom | Hometown: Topeka, Kansas
With a long list of hobbies and interests,
Hannah Nystrom most defines herself by her love of writing.
As a junior at the University of Kansas, she double majors
in both journalism and environmental science. Learning enough
about her family history and culture to be able to write about
it and pass it on drew her to the PLP. As a language enthusiast,
Nystroms favorite part of the program was learning Potawatomi
She is also a certified scuba diver and played
on her high school and collegiate womens soccer teams.
Most of her leadership skills came as captain during her junior
and senior years of high school.
I learned I liked being vocal and having
my voice heard as well as listening to others and making sure
their voices are heard as well, Nystrom said.
Jenan Cameranesi | Hometown: Palm Springs, California
Jenan Cameranesi focuses on art and art history
as a sophomore at Yale University. As a freshman, she acted
as assistant stage manager for a couple of small theater department
productions, which helped her define what she considers leadership
I tend to think of those who work directly
within the community, those who work to not only lead but
facilitate and collaborate, she said.
The Beaubien and Pearce family descendant
applied to the program to learn more about her mothers
family, especially her great-grandfather. Her passion for
artistic expression comes through in her favorite part of
the PLP craft classes, especially beading.
Jozelle Arenz | Hometown: Woodridge, Illinois
Jozie Arenz applied to the PLP to expand on
her knowledge of her Potawatomi heritage. The Hardin family
descendant enjoyed the cultural teachings and felt connected
to traditional medicines as a biology major at the University
of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She hopes to attend medical school
and serve Native Americans through health services, in particular,
Whether she is leading the trombone section
of her high school marching band, interning with the Morton
Arboretum or facilitating meditation classes, Arenz shows
leadership through passion.
Passion is contagious, and when you
are led by someone who is passionate about a cause, activity,
or skill, you become passionate too, she said.
Maile Morrell | Hometown: Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Maile Morell showed herself as a leader throughout
high school as the secretary of student council and involvement
with two student body publications. The Higbee descendants
experiences showed her leadership comes down to grit and self-confidence.
Grit reveals not only ones perseverance,
but also an individuals dedication, resilience, and
courage. Self-confidence is another quality I associate with
leaders because one needs to trust his/her own judgment and
direction before one can expect the same from others,
The University of Hawaii at Manoa sophomore
studies psychology, dances ballet, enjoys writing letters
and hopes to visit Japan or Korea. She enjoyed traditional
crafts, especially beading, during the program.
Mary Hrenchir | Hometown: Paola, Kansas
Mary Hrenchir remembers traveling to Tribal
lands in Oklahoma to attend the Family Reunion Festival every
summer as a child. She applied for the PLP to interact more
and find a spot for herself that aligns with her skills, as
both a leader and way to give back to CPN.
I think the most important quality in
a leader is that they are not afraid to stand up for the people
that they care about, she said
As a junior at the University of Kansas, the
Schwartz family descendant studies business analytics. Hrenchir
also plays the piano, draws, plays Dungeons and Dragons and
watches cartoons. She enjoyed learning traditional Potawatomi
songs and the history of the Tribe during the program.
Matthew Carney | Hometown: Lacey, Washington
Although his father and aunt are both CPN legislators,
Matthew Carney felt the PLP presented an opportunity to explore
his identity and bridge the distance between Washington and
CPN headquarters in Oklahoma.
Seeing the amount of pride and respect
(my dad and aunt) have for their Native American roots has
been really inspiring for me, he said.
Carney serves as a leader at his part-time
job, using his communications skills and adaptability to succeed.
The Juneau family descendant is a freshman at the University
of Washington, Seattle, studying finance and information systems.
He enjoyed learning about the Tribes enterprises and
Matt Dillon Higdon | Hometown: Tecumseh, Oklahoma
Mueller family descendant Matt Dillon Higdon
attended PLP to learn more about the Tribes history
and traditional stories. As a junior studying history at Oklahoma
Baptist University, he knows the importance of their preservation.
Higdon believes leaders work to prepare and serve others.
Even though I do not know where my professional
life will take me after college. I know that no matter where
I end up I will want to mentor the next generation and lead
others to better themselves and their community, he
Higdon participates in track and field, helps
lead sports camps and enjoys archery. One of his favorite
program activities was moccasin making.
MaryKate Godinez | Hometown: Orland Park, Illinois
MaryKate Godinez is a Bourassa family descendant
and a senior at Governors State University in University Park,
Illinois. She studies psychology and names empathy as one
of the most important qualities of a good leader more
important than passion and courage.
Leaders have to make decisions that
impact groups of people, not just a select few, she
said. In order to ensure the benefits of a decision
outweigh the risks, leaders must have the ability to put themselves
in others shoes.
Godinez applied to the PLP to learn the Potawatomi
language and traditional ecological knowledge as well as connect
with Tribal members her age. She also enjoys Beatles trivia
and K-pop music.
Payton Godinez | Hometown: Orland Park, Illinois
As a senior at the University of Illinois at
Chicago, Payton Godinez studies web design. She enjoys puzzles,
logic problems and escapes room, always looking for a way
to bring all of the pieces together, whether on the web or
in real life. Godinez also enjoys boba tea, K-pop music, cartoons
and video games.
She applied for the PLP to take a bigger role
in the Potawatomi community and learn more to keep her heritage
alive. The Bourassa family descendant believes leadership
and confidence go together.
Without self-confidence, its hard
to motivate others and to have them believe in you,
she said. Most importantly, I would say that a leader
has to work with those that are following them.
Kevin Huberty | Hometown: Elk River, Minnesota
Kevin Huberty defines himself as friendly,
quiet, yet interesting. He uses leadership while at his job
at a car dealership, when he brings together communication,
delegation and problem solving.
A strong leader needs to have integrity
because if you cant exhibit your honesty and strong
morals nobody will trust you as a person, he said.
This fall, he begins his junior year at North
Dakota State University studying finance. He applied to the
PLP to get to know Tribal members his own age from across
the country and enjoyed learning the history of the Nation,
Huberty also enjoys outdoor activities, including
hunting and fishing, sports and video games.
Grant Benson | Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma
Grant Benson begins his sophomore year at the
University of Oklahoma this fall, studying industrial/systems
engineering. The Milot family descendant plans to attend medical
school and become a cardiologist or general surgeon, or work
toward his MBA. He wants to give back to the Native community
as a doctor in tribal health care, a goal inspired by his
views on leadership.
Leadership is a way of life, Benson
said. It is a way of living so that everything you do
sets an example to follow, that is, one of humility
integrity, determination, and, most of all, love.
He applied for the PLP to dig up
his roots, meet other Tribal members and learn about Nishnabé
culture. Benson loves music and can play the guitar and piano.
He also enjoys reading and sports.
Check out their final projects and portfolios at cpn.news/2021portfolio.
Find out more about the program at plp.potawatomi.org
and visit the CPN Department of Education at cpn.news/education.