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Weaving Healthy Families Team

Past and Present Contributors

Catherine E. McKinley

Dr. McKinley has been honored work with Indigenous tribes in the Southeast and cross-nationally for over 10 years to develop and test the culturally grounded intervention as the Principal Investigator of the “Chukka Auchaffi’ Natana: The Weaving Healthy Families Program to Promote Wellness and Resilience and Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence (1R01AA028201-01).” She has worked in collaboration with tribes to develop the Indigenous-based and ecological “Framework of Historical Oppression, Resilience, and Transcendence (FHORT)”.

Catherine E. McKinley, PhD, LMSW
Principal Investigator, Project Lead

Tamela Solomon

Tamela Solomon is a member of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and a Program Manager for Weaving Healthy Families. She has been involved with Weaving Healthy Families research since 2009 as a CAB member before becoming the program manager. Prior to joining WHF as a Program Manager, Tamela worked with the MBCI Boys and Girls Club for over 9 years. 

Tamela Solomon, Program Manager

Nikki Comby

Nikki Comby is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and serves as their Grants Services Specialist. Currently, she is also a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Mississippi State University. Nikki has had the pleasure of working with Dr. McKinley since 2010 and is excited to see the growth of Weaving Healthy Families and its positive impact for our community.

Nikki Comby, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Dan Isaac

William D. Isaac is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians who works with the Choctaw Housing Authority in Choctaw, Mississippi. He has been working for his people in the housing field as a Substance Abuse Counselor and an Residential Counselor since 2001. He believes that it takes the tribal community to heal its communities. With a holistic approach that embraces Indigenous culture, he believes a real difference can be made.

Dan Isaac, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Jeremy Chickaway

Jeremy Chickaway, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Harold Doc Comby

Harold "Doc" Comby is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and has been involved with Weaving Healthy Families since it's inception in 2009. He has been a key cultural consultant throughout all stages of the research process. Doc has been a police officer for over 25 years, first with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and later in his home state of Missippii. He currently serves as Captain of Operations on the Choctaw Reservation police force.

Harold Doc Comby, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Karina Walters

Dr. Karina Walters is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. A first-generation college graduate, she has established herself an internationally distinguished health equity scholar and community leader. Dr. Walters is world renown for her expertise in developing behavioral as well as multi-level health interventions steeped in culture and values to activate health-promoting behaviors. Her scholarship and leadership in in this area has led to culturally credible and sustainable health interventions and innovative policy solutions for intractable health inequities plaguing Indigenous communities.

Karina Walters, Co-Investigator


As a biostatistician and bioinformatician, Dr. Li’s research is focused on both analytical method development and application for biomedical, clinical and social data, including investigating the relationship between social determinants of health factors and various health, social and behavior outcomes. Through NIH support, he also performed research training in LMIC, such as Mali, Africa.

Jian Li, Data Analyst


Juliette has served as a Research Assistant with WHF since early 2022. With a background in child welfare and violence prevention strategies, Juliette assists the WHF team with data collection and analysis. Juliette is also currently working with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Previously, Juliette served as an assistant to the Director of Child Welfare and Mental Health Policy at the Children’s Defense Fund, and also worked in legal and non-profit settings to support refugee families fleeing racial, religious and political persecution. Juliette earned a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia. 

Juliette Christian, Research Assistant


As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Theall's research focuses on reducing health inequities by understanding and altering built and social neighborhood environments and social policies for better health in vulnerable populations locally, nationally, and internationally and researching innovative methodologies to do so. She is actively involved in interventions and policies aimed at altering environments for better health in vulnerable populations. 

Katherine Theall, Co-Investigator

Jim Allen

James Allen collaborates on research documenting effectiveness of culturally grounded prevention strategies for Indigenous youth suicide and substance use. For 25 years, he has worked in development of Qungasvik (Toolbox), a community intervention that promotes protective factors from Alaska Native youth suicide and substance use risk with funding from NIAAA, NIMHD, and NIMH. In other current work, he collaborates with the NIMH/NIMHD funded Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resilience (ANCHRR) to describe grassroots Alaska Native youth suicide prevention efforts and to conduct the Alaska Native Community Resilience Study (ANCRS). Link:

Jim Allen, Co-Investigator


Dr. Margaret Mary (Maggie) Downey is an Assistant Professor at Tulane University's School of Social Work, focusing on the social and structural determinants of health inequities, especially in reproductive and maternal health. Her research interests include health services; medical social work; and structural competency, an emerging education paradigm that trains health professionals to understand the relationships among race, class, and embodiment of health inequities at the patient level symptom expression. Her current work examines Maternal Mortality Review Committees' decision-making processes, particularly how they make recommendations to prevent pregnancy-related deaths. She is also a former birth and abortion doula.

Margaret Downey, Data Analyst

Jenn Lilly

Jennifer M. Lilly is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University. Jenn’s work focuses on storytelling for social justice with Latinx and Indigenous communities using participatory, community-engaged, digital methods. Her research agenda aims to leverage digital media interventions to eliminate health disparities created by systemic injustice, with a focus on migrant women and youth.


Jenn Lilly, Research Assistant

Charles Figley

Dr. Figley is the Tulane University Paul Henry Kurzweg, MD Distinguished Chair in Disaster Mental Health and Associate Dean for Research, School of Social Work Professor, and Director of the award-winning Traumatology Institute. He has published more 160 refereed journal articles and 25 books as pioneer trauma scholar and practitioner. Link to learn more:

Charles Figley, Co-Investigator

Leia Saltzman

Dr. Leia Saltzman’s research uses mixed methodology to explore the process of adaptation in the context of trauma, community violence, and mass disaster. She is interested in community based research that influences mental health policies and clinical practices with trauma-affected populations in order to promote well-being, build stronger families, and more cohesive communities that can withstand the impact of mass disaster, trauma, and violence.

Leia Saltzman, Data Analyst

Hannah Knipp.JPG

Hannah Knipp is a social worker and PhD student in the City, Culture, and Community program at Tulane University. Find out more about Hannah here:

Hannah Knipp, Research Assistant


Jessica Liddell is an Assistant Professor at the University of Montana School of Social Work.  Her work focuses on pregnancy and childbirth, reproductive justice issues, community-engagement, and making healthcare systems more equitable. 

Jessica Liddell, Research Assistant

Kristi Kaapu

Kristi Ka`apu. Born and raised in Hawaii. Attended Tulane University for MSW and currently applying for DSW. For the last three years, I have been working for Hospice of Kona, initially as their Social Worker and currently as the Director of Bereavement Services. I loved being a part of the Weaving Health Families project with Dr. McKinley and I would love to have a program like that available for our Hawaiian people. Family healing is essential to individual healing. And in Hawaii, family could mean nuclear family, our neighborhood, or just community. 'A'ohe hana nui ke alu `ia. "No task is too big when done together by all." As Hawaiians, we too have intergenerational trauma, and we need to be able to heal in OUR native ways. 

Kristi Kaapu, Research Assistant

Delilah Gibson

Delilah Farve Gibson, a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. I have been working with the Department of Early Childhood Education for 30 years and currently I am the Family Service Coordinator with Early childhood. Besides working with families I am also the nutrition coordinator as well as the culture coordinator. I enjoy seeing parents take an interest in their child's education and participate in the event my co-workers and I plan. I have 4 grown children and have 8 precious grands. Take time to enjoy life, don't dwell on things you have no control over, tomorrow is always a new day, make memories as you go with you day to day living.

Delilah Gibson, CHR


Kya is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina currently in the MD/MPH program at Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate education in Biology and Human Development at Duke University in 2021. Her aspirations include using her medical and public health education to advocate for holistic health equity for Native American youth and their families.

Kya Locklear, Research Assistant

Ashland Willis

Ashland Willis is a proud member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. She has two handsome sons and two beautiful daughters with her husband of 6 years, Christopher. Ashland enjoys working as the Science teacher at Tucker Elementary School with the hopes of becoming the School Counselor upon completion of her Master’s Program. 

Ashland Willis, CHR

melinda ben.jpg

Melinda Ben is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and a CHR for Weaving Healthy Families. She began working with Weaving Healthy Families this Summer. While joining WHF as a CHR, Melinda currently serves as Program Manager with the MBCI Children and Family Services Program and has worked for MBCI for over 15 years.

Melinda Ben, CHR

Brooke Dixon

Brooke R. Dixon is a proud member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and resides within the Red Water community. She works as a receptionist for the Youth Opportunity Program and attends Mississippi State University. Brooke plays an active role within various organizations of her tribe and University as well as a CHR for Weaving Healthy Families this year.

Brooke Dixon, CHR


Amy Johnson  is a 3&4 Year old teacher at Pearl River Headstart  in the Pearl River Community in Choctaw, MS.  Amy has been a part  of Weaving Healthy Families  Program since early summer 2021.

Amy Johnson, CHR

Ann Marie Douglas

Dr. Ann Douglas is a member of the Blackfeet tribe in Northern Montana. She is a psychologist and director of behavioral health for All Nations Health Center in Missoula, Montana. Dr. Douglas has been a strong advocate Native American children and their families.  She has utilized the Weaving Healthy Families curriculum as part of the holistic approach to care at All Nations Health Center.  

Ann Douglas, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Tina Routh

Tina Routh Is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.  Ms. Routh brings 27 years of management, training, and technical assistance experience in early childhood environments, including 10 years as a Department Director for the Department of Early Childhood. She has trained Head Start, early head start, and childcare staff. Active in state associations, she has served on planning committee for training in Mississippi. She has presented at numerous state, regional and national conferences and participated in numerous federal reviews.

Tina Routh, CHR

Deona Allen

Deona Allen is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Workforce Development Specialist for the Workforce Development Program.  Before entering into Workforce Development, Deona was serving as a Legal Secretary for the Family Violence and Victim’s Services Program. 

Deona Allen, CHR

Jennifer Henry

Jennifer Henry is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and  has only recently joined the Weaving Healthy Families Program.  She is currently employed at the Department of Early Childhood Education as Enrollment/Technical Coordinator.

Jennifer Henry, CHR

Lucinda Willis

My name is Lucinda Willis and I am a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. I reside in the  Pearl River Community. I am a proud mother to 7 children and proud maMO to 3. I am employed with MBCI-Choctaw Gaming Commission as a Secretary. I love spending time with my children and my grand babies, fishing, shopping and just making memories with all my children. 

Lucinda Willis, CHR

Erin John

Erin John is a parent of 4. She is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and resides in the Pearl River community. For the last 8 years, she has served as an Administative- Assitant for Choctaw Tribal Schools. Previous to current position, Erin was a Project Coordinator for the Office of Public Information for 14 years. Her goal with the program is to see her people the Choctaw families heal, bond, and be healthy for their future generations.

Erin John, CHR

Jannifer Willis

Halito my name is Jannifer Willis.  I am a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and have joined in the WHF just recently as a CHR.   I am married to my husband Monty Willis, Sr., for 10 years and we have 6 children.. I work at the Smith John Justice Complex as an Adult Probation Officer for 15 years and with the tribe total for 24 years..   I love to help, teach, and guide my people with any opportunity given and share the hope that this great program provides!! Yakoki!! 

Jannifer Willis, CHR

Autumn McMillan

Halito! I am so excited to be part of the Weaving Healthy Families Program. I work in the Pearl River Resort as the Advertising / Media Content Coordinator. Also, I am a 2020 graduate from Mississippi State University.

Autumn McMillan, CHR

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Delnita Jones is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and a group leader for the Weaving Healthy Families. Delnita has been employed with the Choctaw Tribal School system for 22 years and is currently serving as the Assistant Title I Director

Delnita Jones, CHR

Cynthia Massey is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and is a Community Health Representative for the Weaving Healthy Families Program.  Cynthia holds an MBA and has been employed with MBCI since 2010 with the Cultural Center as a Sales Associate, Pottery Instructor, and Data Entry Clerk, with the 2020 MBCI Census Complete Count Committee and with the Vote Your Voice Initiative Committee.   

Cynthia Massey, CHR

Patricia Haynes

Patricia Haynes is employed by Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.  She serves as a CHR with Weaving Healthy Families.  Patricia has been a part of Weaving Healthy Families research since 2018.

Patricia Haynes, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

My name is Modina Johnson, I am married and a mother of five. I have been a full time stay at home wife and mother for the past 11 years. I am also a proud alumni of Choctaw Central High School with some college credentials also. My ultimate goal is to go back to college and achieve my bachelor's degree. Biggest achievement for me is being able to keep my family together and help see all of my five children through high school and get their diploma. 

Modina Johnson, CHR

Angelina Mattera

Angelina Mattera, CHR

Glen Billie is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Boys and Girls Club, and has served in this position for many years. He provides valuable guidance to the WHF team, and is helping us work towards sustainability in the MBCI communities.

Glen Billie, Community Advisory Board Member

My name is Deborah Henry and I live in the Pearl River Community. I have been working with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians for over 25 years and a CHR for Weaving Healthy Families for almost a year.

Deborah Henry, CHR

I am Rez-Raised, a wife, mother of three. I work with children and youth everyday and work with the Youth Opportunity Program in the Pearl River Community.

Tia Grisham, CHR

Kathleen has been involved with Weaving Healthy Families for ten years, since the project’s start. She has served on the Community Advisory Board since 2018. She helped the research team develop the culturally adapted program, tested data collection instruments, and created materials to be used in the intervention. She has also implemented the program as a Community Health Representative. She has many years of experience working in social work with MBCI families, and served as a Victims Services Case Manager for 8+ years. 

Kathleen Ferris, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Mystri Jodie is from Crownpoint NM and is a Navajo Tribal member enrolled with Navajo Nation. Mystri moved to Mississippi and started working with the MBCI Boys and Girls Club in 2013. She currently serves as a Group Leader at Pearl River Teen Center.

Mystri Jodie, CHR

Juannina Mingo, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Clarissa Stewart, Lead CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Wendy Thompson, CHR

Janine Ferris, CHR

Justina Thomas, CHR

Cameron Lilly, CHR

Kim Ferris, CHR

Lily Gervais, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Gail Lilly, Lead CHR

Robin Davis, CHR

Emily Salois
Community Advisory Board Member

Kristen Pyke, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Lida Running Crane, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Ivan MacDonald, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Trilanda No Runner, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Dana Kingfisher, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

Tanell Broncho, CHR
Community Advisory Board Member

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