Tribal Gathering

First Things First’s annual Tribal Gathering is an opportunity for tribal leaders, regional partnership council members, tribal organizations and community partners to share experiences and discuss efforts to support early childhood in Arizona Tribes and Nations.

The Tribal Gathering will be held as part of the FTF Early Childhood Summit. Your Summit registration includes the option to register for the Tribal Gathering at no additional cost. Registering for the Tribal Gathering only, without registering for the full Summit, is available at the rate of $20.00.

2017 Tribal Gathering

Telling Our Stories: Connecting Data to Our Community Opportunities and Outcomes

There is a scarcity of resources to meet the needs of children birth to 5 and their families, and we must leverage every opportunity to bring additional resources to tribal communities. Many tribal communities do this by applying for grants and partnering with other organizations. This presentation will offer a national perspective on data-driven decision making to support successful programs and grant applications. The national perspective will be followed by a panel of local system partners to share how they utilize data to prioritize their needs, apply for and manage grants, and collaborate with other organizations to leverage resources to ensure the best possible outcomes for young children and families in tribal communities.


Michelle Sarche, Ph.D.

Michelle Sarche, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Community and Behavioral Health. Dr. Sarche has worked with both urban and reservation American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities for over 20 years. Her work has focused on children’s development, parenting and early care environments such as Head Start, Early Head Start, Home Visiting and Child Care. She currently serves as Director of the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center, co-chairs the Native Children’s Research Exchange annual research conference, co-directs the Native Children’s Research Exchange Scholar program, and leads a study to understand the relationship between stress and early development among American Indian children and their parents. Dr. Sarche has also worked extensively with tribal, federal, and research partners to plan for the first national study of American Indian and Alaska Native (Region XI) Head Start programs. This landmark study included 21 American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start programs from Region XI tribal Head Start. Planning for the study involved close partnership with tribal Head Start leaders, the National Indian Head Start Directors Association, tribal political leadership, tribal research and health boards, the Office of Head Start, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, and Mathematica Policy Research in order to ensure that the AI/AN FACES study puts the needs of tribal Head Start children, families, programs, and communities at the forefront. In addition to Dr. Sarche’s guidance on the Head Start FACES study, she has provided consultation to other groups seeking to conduct culturally- and scientifically-grounded research with American Indian and Alaska Native communities, including the Administration for Children and Families and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Sarche is also the Tribal Liaison for the Maternal Child Health Link program, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration to deliver MCH relevant courses to MCH workers serving rural, frontier, and tribal communities. Dr. Sarche’s work has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Administration for Children and Families, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Sarche is a tribal member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe.


Maria Dadgar

Executive Director, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona

Maria Dadgar is an enrolled member of the Piscataway Tribe of Accokeek, Maryland. Maria has worked in the fields of Higher Education, Non-Profit Executive Management and Tribal Economic Development for more than 18 years. Throughout her career, Maria has been involved in advocating for public policies and legislation on behalf of tribal nations regarding Economic Development, Health Policy and American Indian Education. Currently, Maria holds the position as Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona which serves 21 member tribal nations by leveraging state and federal resources on their behalf.

Previous positions include: Program Manager for American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; Executive Director of Atlatl National Native Arts Network, Phoenix, AZ; National Program Manager for the Kaiser Family Foundation American Indian Health Policy Fellowship at First Nations Development Institute; and Acting President/CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development in Mesa, AZ.

Maria launched her career in non-profit management as Co-Founder/National Program Coordinator of Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) at American University in Washington, D.C. During the 1990s and under Maria’s direction, WINS was selected as one of “America’s Best Practices,” by President Clinton’s Race Relations Commission for outstanding educational/work experience opportunity for American Indian college students. In addition to working at American University, Maria volunteered with the Clinton/Gore Re-election Team in the Office of Public Liaison, the Native American Desk at the DNC, Native Vote 96 as well as, the 1996 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Maria holds an Associate’s Degree in Journalism/Mass Communications from Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and a MBA from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Among several organizations, Maria serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Miracle House Foundation at Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and is an active member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business, Grand Canyon University Chapter.


Lawrence King

Chief Judge, Colorado River Indian Tribes Tribal Court

Chief Judge King joined the Colorado River Indian Tribes Tribal Court in 2009. He is a Magistrate for the Town of Paradise Valley. Judge King is on the Board of the Arizona Magistrates Association and serves as its President, and teaches continuing education subjects. Before his appointment as Chief Judge in 2014, Judge King worked as a Judge Pro Tempore and Acting Chief Judge for Colorado River Indian Tribes; Judge Pro Tempore for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Hualapai Tribe and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. In his career as a civil servant, Judge King has served the public by working for Governor Rose Mofford of Arizona and Lt. Governor Thomas P. O’Neil, III of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was also a Candidate for United States House of Representatives in 2002. He clerked for Judge Stephen L. Reinhart on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.



Shanna Tautolo

Program Develop Manager, Pascua Yaqui Tribe

Shanna Ioane Tautolo is a Native Samoan from American Samoa. She is at-large representative on the First Things First Pascua Yaqui Tribe Regional Partnership Council. She is the Program Developer Manager for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Health Services Division.  She has worked in Tribal Government for a total of 30 years. Extensive Professional experience in Program and Organizational Development in Tribal Communities, Grant Writing and Management of Federal, State, Foundation and local funds. Work with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, City of Nogales and the Tohono O'odham Nation. She served on the School Board for the Indian Oasis Baboquivari Unified School District from 1997-2000. She has a strong history of volunteerism and community service, as well as national advocacy work for Pacific Islanders, and served in the United States Army. She is also a Board Member of Non-profit organizations, Advocate Initiative for Grassroots Access, Salud y Cariño and The Reagan Maui’a Foundation. As an original member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Regional Partnership Council, she brings an important historical perspective and looks forward to continuing the work that has started, especially related to health and early education needs in the community.