WAKAYA

OUR TEAM

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Dr. Michelle Johnson-Jennings, a Choctaw Nation-enrolled tribal member, joins the faculty on June 1, 2021, as professor and director of the division of environmentally based health and land-based healing at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute. She holds a joint appointment at the University of Colorado School of Public Health. 

Johnson-Jennings received her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University where she specialized in human development and psychology and contemporary Native issues.

Johnson-Jennings holds the Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Community Engaged Research. She was an associate professor in community health and epidemiology in medicine and associate professor in Indigenous studies as well as the scientific director of the National Indigenous HIV/AIDS Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2020, she received the Faculty Presidential Award from the University of Saskatchewan. Earlier, she was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota and an affiliate with the University of Colorado School of Public Health.

Her therapeutic expertise lies in working with Indigenous communities and decolonizing healing while rewriting narratives of trauma through land-based healing. She has partnered with many international and national Indigenous nations, organizations and communities to prevent substance abuse, food addiction and obesity. She co-developed health interventions rooted in ancestral guidelines to encourage a renewed commitment to health and the revitalization of medicine, food and land-based practices. 

Johnson-Jennings founded and directed the Research for Indigenous Community Health Center at the University of Minnesota and was awarded a U.S. Fulbright scholarship to conduct research in New Zealand. She has been invited to present her research at numerous professional conferences held in the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. She is on the editorial board of the Indigenous Policy Journal.

PROJECT STAFF

Hailey Belvin, MSA

Christian Anderson

Project Manager

Health Interventionist

Hailey Belvin is originally from Boswell, OK. She completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University while being part of the women’s basketball team. She played four years of college basketball where she found her passion for guiding and helping the youth. 

Christian Anderson is an Oklahoma Choctaw member. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with his Bachelor of Science in Education & Human Sciences. He spent most of his life evolving within the Choctaw culture partaking in language, faith, and other cultural practices. His main passion in life is to help the Choctaw People in any capacity that he can.