OUR TEAM

Staff

Myers Reece

Executive Director

Myers oversees strategic planning, organizational and operational leadership, fundraising and external outreach. Before joining Underscore, he was a founding member and managing editor of the Flathead Beacon, which was called the "best newsroom in Montana" in the Columbia Journalism Review and named one of the "Best Places to Work" in the U.S. by Outside magazine, while also perennially garnering honors as the state’s top weekly newspaper. His award-winning journalism and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and literary journals across the country, as well as two anthologies. He is an at-large board member of the Portland chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). He lives in Portland with his wife and two sons, who occasionally let him sneak away to fly fish or embark on a trail run.

Click here to view stories by Myers.

Karina Brown

Managing Editor

As managing editor, Karina guides Underscore’s mission to illuminate the strength and vibrancy of Indigenous communities as well as the challenges they face. She oversees and assists Underscore’s talented reporters on a wide variety of projects, strategizes about long-term story choices, manages our organization’s collaborations and partnerships, and does her own reporting for Underscore. Karina started out in journalism in 2005, covering courts in Oregon. She has reported from a wide spectrum of places, from the chaos of far-right extremist rallies to the hushed decorum of federal courtrooms, and has focused her coverage on environmental issues, policing and tribal sovereignty. She likes to relax with a run in the woods, a ballet class, or by drawing and painting.

Twitter: karinapdx

Email: kbrown@underscore.news

Click here to view stories by Karina.

Katie Whitecar

Operations Director

Katie has been helping to keep the Underscore gears turning since the fall of 2019. She believes strongly in the nonprofit journalism model and is building the foundation for Underscore's sustainability by designing and streamlining internal processes informed by data analytics. From building budgets to managing the website to functioning as a one-woman human resources department, Katie’s adaptability and optimism have helped Underscore become a resilient and agile organization primed for its next stage of growth. When she’s not sifting through spreadsheets or finding ways to improve Underscore’s operations you can likely find her tending to her garden or exploring the old growth forests of Oregon with her blue heeler pup Maggie.

Jes Abeita

Audience Engagement Manager

Jes Abeita, a member of the Pueblo of Isleta and a descendant of the Pueblo of Laguna, brings a diverse media background to Underscore, where she plies her expertise in audience building, marketing, photography and branding. She has previously worked at Native America Calling and the Vancouver Sun, among other organizations. Her photos have been published by outlets such as NPR.org, the Vancouver Observer, OregonLive.com and Portland Monthly, as well as commercial clients. She's excited to utilize her experience in writing and producing Indigenous news at Underscore and looks forward to engaging with communities across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  

Chris Aadland

Tribal Affairs Reporter

Chris covers tribal affairs in the Pacific Northwest for Underscore and Indian Country Today. He is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and descendant of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Chris covered Indian Country for two years as a Report for America corps member for Casper Star-Tribune and Montana Free Press. He won a Wyoming Press Association Pacemaker award for an investigation he wrote with a colleague at the Casper Star-Tribune about a secretive lobbying effort by a Wyoming tribe to derail gaming legislation that would have negatively affected tribal gaming revenue.

Twitter: @cjaadland

Email: caadland@underscore.news

Click here to view stories by Chris.

Jarrette Werk

Reporter and Photographer/Report for America Corps Member

Jarrette is a multimedia journalist with experience in digital news, audio reporting and photojournalism. He joined Underscore in June 2022 as a staff reporter and photographer, in partnership with the national Report for America program. Originally from Montana, Jarrette is a proud member of the Aaniiih and Nakoda Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community. Prior to joining Underscore, he served as an associate producer for Nevada Public Radio’s (KNPR) “Native Nevada Podcast,” an eight-part podcast series highlighting the culture, issues and perseverance of the 27 tribal nations in present-day Nevada. He has been a member of the Native American Journalists Association since 2017 and has participated as a Native American Journalist Fellow four times, including once as a mentor-in-training. He has earned a national Hearst Journalism Award and regional Edward R. Murrow Award for his reporting.

Twitter: @Jarrette_Werk

Email: jwerk@underscore.news

Click here to view stories by Jarrette.

McKayla Lee

Indigenous Reporting Fellow

​​McKayla Lee is a first-year undergraduate student double majoring in Journalism and Native American Studies at the University of Montana. She was born and raised in Whale Rock, Arizona on the Navajo Nation and is an enrolled Diné citizen of the Navajo Nation. McKayla spent four years as a reporter at the Southern Ute Drum in Colorado and has won awards for her writing and photography from the Native American Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She is the first recipient of the Underscore Indigenous Journalism Fellowship, launched in 2022.

Email: mlee@underscore.news

Click here to view stories by McKayla.

Jackleen de La Harpe

Consultant

Jackleen was the founding Executive Director of Underscore News. After retiring in March 2022, she now assists with program, strategic planning and fundraising for Underscore. She was previously a strategic development consultant for InvestigateWest to increase the visibility and reach of investigative reporting. She was also the founding Executive Director of The Metcalf Institute for Marine + Environmental Reporting and is a former journalist and freelancer — her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Providence Journal and, more recently, Indian Country Today.


Contributors

Brian Bull

Contributor

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Brian Bull has been involved in journalism for 25 years and has filed for National Public Radio, the BBC, and other broadcast outlets. A proud citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe, Bull mentors up and coming journalists of color through NPR’s Next Generation Radio Project. When not covering news in the Pacific Northwest, he’s either spending time with his family or looking for hidden patches of huckleberries.

Brian Oaster

Contributor

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Brian Oaster (they/them) is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and a freelance reporter working in the Pacific Northwest. Their stories have appeared in papers like Street Roots, Portland's award winning non-profit weekly that focuses on social justice, and Indian Country Today, the nation's most widely read Native newspaper. Brian also occasionally does radio work for KBOO Community Radio Portland. They have a particular interest in Native issues where they intersect with environmental and racial justice, urban development, housing issues, and representation in the arts.

Christen McCurdy

Contributor

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Christen McCurdy (@CMcCurdyPDX) is a journalist in Portland, Ore. She has written for Street Roots, Pacific Standard, Bitch, Willamette Week, and other publications, and served as the news editor of The Skanner from 2015 to 2019.

Dalton Walker

Contributor

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Dalton Walker is the managing editor for Indian Country Today. He started as a national correspondent in January 2020.

Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is an award-winning journalist based in Phoenix.

Walker has written for The New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Duluth News Tribune, Omaha World-Herald, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Colorado Springs Gazette and SRPMIC's Oodham Action News.

Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker.

David G. Lewis, Ph.D

Contributor

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David G. Lewis, Ph.D, is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and an instructor in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies at Oregon State University. His contact information, essays, and posts about the history of indigenous people of Oregon can be found at ndnhistoryresearch.com

Dawn Stover

Contributor

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Dawn Stover is a freelance science and environmental writer based in White Salmon, Washington, and a contributing editor and columnist at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Previously, she was a staff editor at Harper’s and Popular Science magazines, and an adjunct instructor in the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University.


Heather Wiedenhoft

Contributor

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Heather is a scientist and freelance writer with a passion for the outdoors. A Seattle native, she is currently a graduate student at the University of Oregon's Multimedia Journalism Program while working in environmental conservation. Click here to view Heather's writing portfolio.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye

Contributor

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye is the editor of ICT. She is the first woman to be the chief news executive and top editor of the 40-year-old newspaper and website. She's also a Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) board member. She is a Diné citizen of the Navajo Nation. She identifies as the Towering House Clan, the Coyote Pass Clan of Jemez, the Mexican Clan, and the Hopi with Red Running Into the Water Clan.

Kalle Benallie

Contributor

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Kalle Benallie, Navajo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @kallebenallie

Kevin Abourezk

Contributor

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Kevin Abourezk serves as managing editor for Indianz.com, a Native American news website. He has spent 21 years as a professional journalist, including 18 years as a reporter and editor for the Lincoln Journal Star. He is an enrolled citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and a married father of five children. He lives and works in Lincoln, Nebraska. Indianz.com is owned and operated by Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.


Lucy Sherriff

Contributor

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Lucy Sherriff is a freelance multimedia journalist based in California. She reports on conservation and environmental justice stories, and has been published in BBC, Al Jazeera, TIME, NBC, The Washington Post, and more. Prior to moving to the United States, Lucy was based in Colombia, and won a United Nations Correspondents Award for her reporting on indigenous tribes facing water shortages, and deforestation in rural areas post conflict.


Mark Trahant

Contributor

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Mark Trahant is editor-at-large for Indian Country Today and based in Phoenix. He has been a professor at the University of North Dakota, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Idaho and the University of Colorado. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Trahant has been a reporter for PBS’ Frontline series and was the editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He has also worked for The Arizona Republic, Salt Lake Tribune, The Seattle Times, the Navajo Times Today, and the Sho-Ban News. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and can be found on Twitter @TrahantReports.

Melorie Begay

Contributor

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Melorie Begay is a member of the Navajo Nation and a freelance reporter based in Eugene, OR. Though most of her experience is in public radio, as a multimedia journalist she enjoys exploring all mediums. She has bylines with KLCC Public Radio, KUNM Public Radio, and New Mexico In Depth. She has reported on a range of subjects including the environment, government, education, race & racism, and housing & homeless among other topics.

Pauly Denetclaw

Contributor

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Pauly Denetclaw, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is Haltsooí (Meadow People) born for Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House People). An award-winning reporter based in Gallup, New Mexico, she has worked for the Navajo Times and Texas Observer covering Indigenous communities, and her radio pieces have aired on KYAT, National Native News, NPR’s Latino USA and Texas Public Radio. She is a board member of the Native American Journalists Association. Follow her on Twitter, @pdineclah.

Sergio Olmos

Contributor

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A probing, long-form journalist, Sergio left college in 2014 and landed in Hong Kong in the last 24 hours of the Umbrella Movement. He decided to buy a notebook and try being a journalist, thus launching his freelance career. For three years, Sergio traveled to more than 20 countries. His work during this time published with Latterly. He joined InvestigateWest in 2018 to report on concussions in high school sports. Él habla español.


Wil Phinney

Contributor

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Wil Phinney has been a reporter and editor for more than 40 years at newspapers in Oregon, Wyoming and Montana. He recently retired after 24 years as editor of the Confederated Umatilla Journal, the award-winning monthly newspaper on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon. He lives in Pendleton, Oregon, with Carrie, his wife; they have three daughters.

Board of Directors

Erin Dysart

Board Chair

Erin is a Program Associate at Meyer Memorial Trust who advocates for journalism's role in supporting transformational, systems-level change that shifts power imbalances and creates and sustains equitable conditions.


Stone Hudson

Board Vice Chair

Stone Hudson is a Master's student in Social Work at Portland State University. He worked as a Field Representative for Congressman Earl Blumenauer, focused on operations management and community outreach. As a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, he is committed to mentoring youth and at-risk students.


Sharon Nielson

Board Treasurer

Sharon is the principal of The Nielson Group, and has extensive experience in the financing and development of community-based projects.


Sarah Kastelic

Board Secretary

Sarah Kastelic, PhD, MSW (Alutiiq) has been the Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association since 2015 and has worked for the past 20 years in national Native nonprofits including the National Congress of American Indians.


Bryan Denson

Board Member

Bryan is an award-winning journalist and author with 35 years of slinging true words for a living, most in daily newsrooms. His insights inform Underscore's public service mission.

Edward Hershey

Board Member

Edward Hershey, who spent six decades in journalism, government, higher education and organized labor, has been a judge of the George Polk Awards for 44 years. His memoir, “The Scorekeeper,” was a finalist for the 2018 Oregon Book Award.


Marcella Miller

Board Member

Marcella is an organizational culture and equity analyst with the Oregon Department of Human Services. Her well rounded experience in nonprofit management, community direct service, and organizational development has spanned dozens of organizations and communities across Nebraska, Oregon and national projects.

Phil Busse

Board Member

Phil Busse has worked for the past 25 years as a journalist and manager for news organizations.  He started his career as the first environmental reporter for SF Weekly, and in 2000, Phil helped launch the Portland Mercury, where he served six years as the Managing Editor. In 2013, he helped launch XRAY.fm, a community radio station that routinely is voted "best" in Portland. He is the Executive Director for the Media Institute for Social Change and the Publisher for the Rogue Valley Messenger, which serves southern Oregon.

Indian Country Advisory Team

Jason Begay

Navajo Nation

Jason is an Associate Professor at the University of Montana School of Journalism in Missoula, Montana, where he oversees the Montana Native News Honors Project. He is a former Native American Journalists Association Board Member.


Cynthia Coleman, Ph.D.

Osage Nation

Cynthia is a Professor of Communications at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, specializing in Native Americans in the media, science and communications. She writes and lectures about how mass media frame conflicts that affect Indigenous communities—particularly conflicts where science, risk, health and the environment take center stage. Her new book, “Environmental Clashes on Native American Land,” is now available.

Charles Hudson

Three Affiliated Tribes

Charles is the Intergovernmental Affairs Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) in Portland, Oregon and serves as its congressional liaison.


James A. Parker

Chippewa Cree

James is Deputy Director of The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Director of the Oregon Native American Chamber in Portland, Oregon.

A-dae Romero-Briones

Cochiti/Kiowa

A-dae Romero-Briones is the director of programs, Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, at the First Nations Development Institute and Co-director of the California Tribal Fund. She is also Co-director of California Foodshed Funders and a steering committee member of Funders for Regenerative Agriculture (FORA).  She also serves on the policy committee of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders.

Ryan Brewer

Oglala Lakota

Ryan Brewer focuses on creative and strategic communications solutions for print and digital media. With a background in advertising and publishing, he strives to build a portfolio of socially-minded organizations—be it as a production artist for Image Comics or letterpress supervisor for the Independent Publishing Resource Center. He lives in Portland where he enjoys birding, biking, and all things books.