Board of Directors
Jason Begay, Navajo -- President
Jason is an assistant professor and director of Native American Journalism Projects at the University of Montana School of Journalism in Missoula. Among the classes he teaches is the Native News Honors Project, which sends students to cover themed issues on the state’s seven reservations every spring.
He graduated from the school in 2002, and was a recipient of NAJA scholarships. He has worked at The New York Times, The Oregonian and the Navajo Times, where he spent six years before accepting his current position.
Bryan Pollard, Cherokee -- Vice President
Pollard is the executive editor of the Cherokee Phoenix and has worked for the Phoenix since 2003. He is the great-grandson of Cherokee Nation original enrollees John Albert Terrell and Mary Elizabeth Taylor Terrell of Tahlequah, Okla.
During his tenure as executive editor, Bryan has expanded the audience of the Cherokee Phoenix by improving the quality of the newspaper and implementing new products such as the website cherokeephoenix.org, a daily electronic newsletter, a weekly radio show, online videos, and the adoption of social media pages. The Phoenix has also played a vital role in using the Cherokee language in its print and digital products. As a result, the Cherokee Phoenix has been recognized as one of the best newspapers in the state of Oklahoma.
Bryan is a lifetime member of the Native American Journalists Association and has served as a board member for NAJA and the North American Street Newspaper Association. He is a certified high school journalism teacher and has taught at Sequoyah High School, an Indian boarding school in Tahlequah, and has served as a mentor for numerous journalism workshops including the Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists Working Press, the UNITY News and the NAJA Student Projects and Project Phoenix. He is currently a member of NAJA’s Free Press Committee.
Tristan Ahtone, Kiowa -- Treasurer
Tristan graduated in 2006 from the Institute of American Indian Arts with a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing. In 2008, he received a master's degree in broadcast journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism.
Since 2008, Tristan has specialized in covering Native American, environmental and healthcare issues, and has worked with The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, National Native News, Frontline, Indian Country Today, Sirius Satellite Radio, NPR and the Fronteras Desk.
Tristan is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and currently serves as KUNM's Poverty and Public Health Reporter in Albuquerque, NM.
Shannon Shaw-Duty, Osage -- Secretery
Shannon is the editor of the Osage News, the tribal newspaper of the Osage Nation in Pawhuska, Okla. She is also a former assignment editor for reznetnews.org, a Native American news, information and entertainment website that also trains and mentors Native college journalism students around the country.
A former reporter at The Santa Fe New Mexican, Shaw-Duty is a graduate of the American Indian Journalism Institute. She is also a Chips Quinn Scholar and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Shaw-Duty has held internships at the Associated Press in Sioux Falls, S.D., a copy editing internship at The Forum in Fargo, N.D., and participated in the writing workshop, "Writing About Race," at the Poynter Institute for Journalists. She has been a mentor at the Native American Newspaper Career Conference held at the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota and an adjunct faculty member of the American Indian Journalism Institute.
Shaw-Duty is an award-winning journalist and a member of the Native American Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Oklahoma Press Association.
Shaw-Duty resides in Pawhuska with her husband and six children.
Dalton Walker, Ojibwe
Walker is the web editor and social media manager at The Gazette in Colorado Springs. Dalton engages readers through www.gazette.com and social media. His duties include managing the website, staying on top of trending topics and sharing information through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, while developing fresh ideas.
Dalton is a graduate of the Freedom Forum's American Indian Journalism Institute and the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Dalton, a former NAJA student projects participant, has been a board member since 2013. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Taté and daughter Mimi.
He was elected to the NAJA board of directors in July 2013.
Eugene Tapahe, Navajo
Tapahe is owner, senior designer and web developer of Tapahe Inventive Design. His experience ranges from Managing Editor, Art Director, Senior Animator/Designer, Photographer, and Creative Web Developer for publications such as The Navajo Times and ESPN The Magazine.
Eugene draws creative inspiration from his Navajo culture and credits his traditional upbringing for his continued success. His experiences have taken him to the NFL Super Bowl and MLB World Series. He continues to speak about his life experiences at professional media conferences, universities, elementary and high schools, and church assemblies.
During his career, Eugene has been a board member of the Native American Journalists Association and served as a student mentor at numerous NAJA conferences, UNITY 2008 and 2012. He continues to give back through student mentorship projects, alumni association groups, college student advisor/teacher positions, and promoting viable Native American businesses.
Eugene graduated in 1992 from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
Jolene Schonchin, Comanche
Jolene Jimenez Schonchin serves as the Public Information Officer for the Comanche Nation in Lawton, Okla. She is also the editor for the Comanche Nation News and the content manager for the tribe's social media and website.
When activated, she serves as the PIO for the Comanche Nation's Emergency Management Team.
She has worked as the PIO since 2001, becoming the Editor in 2006.
She has been a member of NAJA since 2001 and served on the Board of Directors 2009-2012 and 2014-present.
Rob Capriccioso, Anishinaabe
Rob Capriccioso was elected to the NAJA Board of Directors in July 2015. A citizen of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, he grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where his mom and dad worked for the tribe in various health, legal, and economic development capacities.
Interested in journalism from an early age, Capriccioso studied communications at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduating in 2001 with dual degrees in political science and psychology. At U of M, he helped produce the Michiganensian and was a member of the Native American Student Association.
Upon moving to the Washington, D.C. area after graduation, Capriccioso worked as a federal relations associate for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium where he was able to contribute articles to the Tribal College Journal. He then began freelancing for American Indian Report, News from Indian Country, and Emerging Markets magazine. His first on-staff journalism positions were for Connect for Kids and Inside Higher Ed, where he focused on education reporting. At Connect for Kids, he pressed for answers on youth issues from then-President George W. Bush. The president eventually responded in what was one of the first presidential online Q&As of its kind for an Internet publication.
Capriccioso went on to help Politico launch its website and founded a D.C.-focused satire website, while also writing youth-focused education supplements for The New York Times and contributing political, education, and cultural coverage to mainstream publications, including Campaigns & Elections, TMZ, The New York Sun, The New York Post’s PageSix.com, High Country News, and The Guardian. He also contributed to True/Slant, the Forbes-backed online network, and later collaborated with NPR, PBS, and The Smithsonian Magazine.
Wanting to focus fulltime on Native issues, Capriccioso joined Indian Country Today in 2008 as a general assignment reporter. He was promoted to Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for the publication when it became Indian Country Today Media Network in 2011. During his time with ICTMN, he has become a leading writer on tribal-federal relations, scoring several scoops, including a Q&A with President Barack Obama on Native issues and interviews with top political leaders, such as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, multiple Cabinet leaders, many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, former White House Chief of Staff Pete Rouse, and Bolivian President Evo Morales. Soon before his election to NAJA, he led the reporting of the White House’s plan to avoid paying a substantial amount of contract support costs owed to tribes; the ensuing controversy ultimately led the Obama administration to fully reverse course.
Capriccioso’s reporting was recognized by NAJA in 2004 and has been awarded every year since 2009, including a beat award in 2015 for general excellence in coverage of Washington, D.C. His educational reporting has been recognized by the Association for College and University College Counseling Directors.
Capriccioso resides in the metro D.C. area with his wife, Katrina, and their two kids, Bella and Loretto. They are expecting twins later in 2015.
Darren Brown, Cochiti Pueblo and Choctaw
Darren has spent his entire professional career in television, as a studio camera operator, tape operator, photographer, and reporter. His television career spans almost 30 years, with stints at KWTV in Oklahoma City, KOKH in Oklahoma City, KAUZ in Wichita Falls, Texas, and KOB in Albuquerque, NM.
He started in television production in 1987, and moved to television news as a photographer in 1994.
Darren began doing on-camera work in 2005, and spent the last several years at KWTV functioning as a ‘one-man band,” shooting, writing and editing his own stories. He also played a large part in KWTV’s “Road Trip Oklahoma” series, producing feature stories in each Oklahoma town the show visited.
Currently, he produces content for Cheyenne and Arapaho Television, the only Native-owned and operated broadcast TV station in Oklahoma.
He joined CATV in April 2012 as content producer but also serves as a videographer, editor and on-camera talent for the show.
UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, Inc. pushes for fair and accurate news coverage — especially in regards to race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation. It represents NAJA, the Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.
NAJA's UNITY board representatives are:
- Tara Gatewood, Isleta Pueblo from New Mexico, co-host of Native America Calling.
- Suzan Harjo, Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee from Oklahoma, contributing writer for Indian Country Today, president of the Morning Star Institute.
- Margaret Holt, (Tuscarora), standards editor at the Chicago Tribune.