Ask an Alum

Wondering what it's like to live and work in Washington, D.C.? Want to know about a day in the life of a Udall Intern? Ask one of our alumni mentors. Salisha, Erin, Andrea, Roxanne, Diana, and Mellor are happy to share their experiences as Udall Interns with you. We encourage you to contact them: their bios and information are below.

Salisha Old Bull


A Salish and Crow, I was born and raised in Montana. I had the honor of being a Udall Intern in 2007 and proudly worked for the House Committee on Natural Resources, Office of Indian Affairs. Since then, I have completed four degrees at The University of Montana: BA in Native American Studies, BA in Psychology, Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Masters of Public Administration. The internship allowed me to better observe the opportunities and possibilities that were available to me through the more formal professions of Native people. This time was a major prelude to the academic work I had ahead of me, as I was in the midst of my academic career. But it showed me that there are no boundaries to the extent that one can strive to improve issues in Indian Country. It gave me a better sense of how to conduct myself in a more professional manner, as well as how to research the deep issues of Indian Country. Currently, I work for Kicking Horse Job Corps Center (KHJC), as the Outreach Admissions/Career Transition Specialist Coordinator. This Job Corps center was the first and only all American Indian center; it is one of two centers that operate through Tribally run contracts. I believe that the experience I gained during the this internship was invaluable and that I still make strides in my career, as a result of this time. Future goals include obtaining more direct, and continuous, involvement with tribal government. Looking back at the Udall Internship helps me to remember how important it is to continue to encourage and support further generations of Native people to succeed academically and professionally in their daily lives. Feel free to email me at powowgrrl@yahoo.com.

Erin Dunnagan Oliver


I grew up in Miami County, Indiana and am an enrolled member of the Miami Nation of Indiana. I received a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame, where I was a 2004 Udall Congressional Intern in Rep. Tom Udall's Washington, DC office. Currently I am a 3L at Michigan State University College of Law specializing in Indigenous Law and Policy. I am Vice-President of the Native American Law Student Association and a student representative for the Michigan State Bar Association Indian Law Section. I am a member of my tribal language committee where I am active in language revitalization efforts. I also sit on our tribal scholarship committee. Please feel free to contact me with questions concerning the internship program. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the Udall Foundation and love to share my experience with others. I can be reached at erin.n.oliver@gmail.com.

Andrea Sanders


Andrea Akalleq Sanders, Yupik, began working for First Alaskans Institute in the role of Development Assistant in August 2010.

In this position her main duties are to assist the Development Director and other FAI Staff in conducting research to identify potential contributors to the organization's fund, providing logistical support for the Alaska Native Policy Center's events, and assisting with all grant and fundraising aspects.

Ms. Sanders most recent previous employment was for her tribe, The Native Village of Kwinhagak, working as a Land Manager.

Andrea graduated from Georgetown University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in Government. Immediately following her graduation she participated in the Udall Congressional Internship and was placed in the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, at that time, vice-chaired by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. She attributes much of her success in recent years to the positive and informative experience she had as a Udall Intern.

Andrea was born and raised in Bethel, Alaska and is currently enrolled as a Tribal Member with the Orutsararmuit Native Council and the Native Village of Kwinhagak. She is also a shareholder with Qanirtuuq Corporation, out of the Calista Region. She can be contacted at: Akalleq@gmail.com to answer any questions regarding the Udall Congressional Internship Program.

Roxanne Thomas


Roxanne (Dine'/Numa) is a tribal member of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. She was raised in Salt Lake City, UT and moved to the Navajo Nation upon entering her freshman year of high school. She earned a BA in Sociology/Human Services from Fort Lewis College, a master's in Social Work (MSW) from Arizona State University, and an MS in Public Policy and Management (MSPPM) from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a licensed MSW (LMSW) in the state of Arizona and is currently working at Kayenta Health Center Counseling Services in Kayenta (AZ) on the Navajo Nation. She provides outpatient mental health services primarily to Dine' adults, and has prior experience working with Dine' children, adolescents, and parents. Her maternal relatives are from the Kayenta (AZ) area and her paternal relatives are from the Stillwater (NV) area.

Roxanne was a Native American Congressional Intern during the summer of 2007 and worked in the office of Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO). She would like to encourage those who:

  • desire to create long lasting friendships with peers from various tribal communities;
  • seek to build their network of people/organizations working with indigenous people; and
  • have the passion and desire to advocate for positive change within their area of interest

to apply for this wonderful experience. Roxanne can be reached at roxanne.thomas@ihs.gov.

Diana Webster


Diana Webster is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe from Northern Minnesota. In 2001, she decided to go to Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, CA, after a long career in business. It was an ambitious goal for a mature student, but she now works as an attorney at the Tribal Law & Policy Institute in West Hollywood, CA, where she works with American Indian and Alaska Native people, tribal justice systems, victims services providers, tribal service providers, and others involved in the improvement of justice in Indian country.

As a 2007 Udall Intern in the White House Council on Environmental Quality legal department, she gained not only outstanding work experience and tremendous confidence, but she also developed a network of friends and mentors of the best and the brightest people in the country. She strongly encourages anyone, whether they're just starting out in college or going back to school after many years, to apply to be an Intern. If you have any questions about the program, Diana would love to talk to you. Her email is: law.webster@gmail.com.

Mellor Willie


Mellor C. Willie is the Executive Director of the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC). He directs the non-profit organization's operations and programming, as well as publicly promotes and advances the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian housing policy agenda in Washington, D.C. and abroad.

Mellor is a member of the Navajo Nation, born and raised in Window Rock, Arizona. He was born into the Yei Dine' Tachii'nii clan and born for the Tsenahabilnii clan. In 1998, he received his bachelor's degree in political science from Southern Utah University. As a 1998 Udall intern, Mellor worked for former Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ). In May 2009, he graduated from The George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, being the first American Indian to graduate from the program.

Before NAIHC, Mellor served as director of development for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) headquartered in Washington, D.C. As the chief fundraising executive, he directed the fundraising efforts for NCAI. Mellor served on the faculty advisory board for the Harvard University Native American Program and as a former alumnus, he continues to serve on the advisory board for the Washington Internships for Native Students at American University. He can be reached at mwillie@NAIHC.NET.