Advisory Circle



The Advisory Circle provides strategic input and feedback to the Director of the Native American House (NAH) on issues and topics impacting the Native/Indigenous student community at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Issues and topics include but are not limited to retention, persistence, graduation, leadership, cultural well-being, academic identity development, scholarships, internships, and national trends in higher education affecting Native/Indigenous students. The guidance of the Circle builds upon the University’s commitment to the students served and supported by the Native American House.


The Circle comprises members who discuss issues from diverse perspectives while bringing forward specialist knowledge and recommendations to improve Native/Indigenous student life from their respective units, departments, and communities.

Length of Term

Circle member involvement and terms and may be reappointed to a successive term, based on interest and involvement, and serve by invitation from the Director of NAH and Circle Chair.

The term of service for student representatives is one academic year, which will begin with the fall semester and conclude at the end of the spring semester.

Advisory Circle Role

The Circle’s work shifts and responds to the priorities and needs of the NAH. Decisions and recommendations are brought forward to appropriate University bodies for consideration, approval, and implementation.

Through an approach of collaboration and co-creation, the Circle contributes to the growth of the NAH by:

  • Discussing strategic approaches to issues, processes, and policies impacting Native/Indigenous student retention, persistence, and graduation;
  • Helping shape and strengthen the development of short and long-term indigenization strategies that encourage social, intellectual, and cultural interactions between the NAH and campus and local communities;
  • Advising on the development of communication and awareness strategies related to Native/Indigenous histories, cultures, and achievements;
  • Serving as a sounding board for improving the environment for Native students;
  • Assisting in the solicitation, cultivation, and stewardship of external and internal support not covered by the state budget;
  • Acting as a campus-wide voice to the University administration related to the mission, needs, and activities of the NAH; and
  • Being a presence at NAH-led programs and events.

Estimated Number and Frequency of Meetings

The Circle will meet quarterly, based on mutually agreed dates and times: Summer (June), Fall (September), Winter (December), and Spring (March). The Circle may meet more frequently in response to the needs and priorities of the NAH.

Time Commitment

Meetings are 90 minutes. Preparation for all meetings is required. Regular participation in the Circle’s meetings and activities is essential to be effective.


The Chair of the Advisory Circle will work in consultation and cooperation with the Director of NAH to create quarterly meeting agendas; agendas will contain discussion and action items concerning the current priorities of the Native American House.

Record Keeping

The NAH Office Support Specialist will assist with the quarterly coordination of meetings, oversee the recording of attendance, maintain meeting minutes and communication, and provide proper notice of upcoming meetings to Advisory Circle members.

Composition of the Native American House Advisory Circle (alpha-order):

  • Justin Bean (Choctaw), Undergraduate (Major: Mechanical Engineering), The Grainger College of Engineering
  • Khirsen Corbins (Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation), Medical Student, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
  • Charlotte E. Davidson, Ph.D. (Diné/Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara) (Ex-officio), Director, Native American House, Student Success, Inclusion & Belonging, Student Affairs
  • Pankaj Desai, Ph.D., Senior Assistant Director for Inclusion Initiatives, The Career Center
  • María Emerson, Student Success Librarian, University Library
  • Shannon Epplett, Ph.D. (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians), Native alumnus, Instructional Assistant Professor, English and Native Studies, Illinois State University
  • April Garrison, Student Success Advisor, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Success, Inclusion & Belonging, Student Affairs
  • Mark Layng, Native American Outreach Team, Counseling Center
  • Ripan Malhi, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Anthropology and Co-Director of the Center for Indigenous Science
  • John McKinn (Maricopa), Associate Director, American Indian Studies
  • Jerry Ogbudimkpa, Ph.D., Director of Health Education, McKinley Health Center, Auxiliary, Health, and Wellbeing, Student Affairs
  • Nathan Runnells, Area Coordinator, University Housing
  • Jamie M. Singson (Chair), Director of Capital Planning & Space Management, Auxiliary, Health, and Wellbeing, Student Affairs
  • Heather Wright, Ph.D. (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Carle Illinois College of Medicine