Indigenous-Woman Led Think Tank Expands Staff

Roanhorse Consulting, LLC team L-R: Jennifer Lujan, Project Assistant; Olivia Roanhorse, Director; Vanessa Roanhorse, CEO; Jaime Gloshay, Program Manager; and Blayne Greiner, Operations Manager.

Roanhorse Consulting, LLC (RCLLC), an Indigenous women-led think tank based in Albuquerque recently expanded its staff from the vision of one woman from the Diné Nation to a collective of Indigenous women with strong backgrounds in finance and lending, nonprofits, public health and operations who believe that unheralded communities, businesses and individuals deserve equitable access to resources.

“We are a collective of women working together to build community wealth and support community-led solutions to address social, economic, health and well-being challenges facing all overlooked people with specific expertise for Indigenous communities across New Mexico and the country,” said RCLLC CEO Vanessa Roanhorse, who is from the Diné (Navajo) Nation and started Roanhorse Consulting in 2016. “Working to strengthen communities, build ecosystems, reframe systems is truly a team effort. It can’t be done by one person only. I’m proud of the work that we do at Roanhorse Consulting. There’s sincerity, respect and power when we work with Indigenous peoples, communities and businesses to help them realize and achieve their own self-determination.”

Roanhorse Consulting operates on the mission and drive to support, uplift and encourage all communities – tribal and non-tribal – with approaches, philosophies and practices rooted in Indigenous culture. Part of that rich culture centers on family. Roanhorse Consulting is truly a family business with Vanessa’s husband, Blayne Greiner, supporting the business as the Operations Manager, and now with its most recent addition – Vanessa’s twin sister, Olivia Roanhorse.

Olivia joined the RCLLC team in August 2019 as the Director where she oversees the key policy, research and evaluation projects. Olivia brings a background in nonprofit and public health work to RCLLC as she served as the Vice President of Programs for the Notah Begay III Foundation for seven years before joining Roanhorse Consulting.

“Most of our projects are about breaking down the inherent inequities in existing policies and systems that impact our Indigenous people and finding a way to go around it, through it or build our own. Those are conversations we have daily, and they are so intense and powerful,” said Olivia, who is currently pursuing a Doctor of Public Health from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “I am taking everything I’ve learned about nonprofits and public health – both opportunities and challenges – and applying them to this work. For one, the connection between wealth and health for Indigenous people is an area that has some research but even less on the role Native women business owners play.”

A part of Roanhorse Consulting’s work focuses on helping communities, businesses, organizations and individuals achieve and aspire their self-determination, specifically Indigenous women entrepreneurs. That was the attraction that led Jaime Gloshay to join the RCLLC team as the project manager in 2018. Jamie, who established a Native lending program at Accion New Mexico as their Community Loan Officer, oversees the RCLLC’s diverse initiatives to usher access to capital within Indian Country. Vanessa and Jaime are co-founders of Native Women Lead, an organization dedicated to supporting and growing Native American women entrepreneurs and leaders.

“Working for an Indigenous women-led business is a lot like any other situation in Indigenous communities. There’s always a woman or women calling the shots, figuring out ways to solve problems, thinking how to bring the community together, sharing the work to ensure it gets done, holding each other accountable for our roles and holding space to acknowledge, care and recognize we bring a lot to this table we are building,” said Jamie, who represents the Navajo, White Mountain Apache and Kiowa Nations. “I feel completely supported and championed in self-determining my own path, living the life I always envisioned, building a body of work that I care about and being able to care for my family through a career path I love.”

Roanhorse Consulting works toward building and strengthening ecosystems, in particular, the people and communities that make cities, towns, nations, Pueblos and villages thrive and survive. Jennifer Lujan, a recent graduate of the University of New Mexico who joined RCLLC in summer 2019 as the Project Assistant, said her degree concentrations in operations and marketing are utilized every day.

“I was intrigued by the work RCLLC was doing with regards to lifting Native American-owned business, community development, philanthropy and eco-systems building,” said Jennifer, who is from the Pueblo of Isleta and Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribes. “I see the passion, dedication and perseverance every day at the office and am honored to be part of it. It’s also liberating to have space to dream big and collaborate in ways that are creative and inclusive of our diverse Indigenous perspectives.”

Some of Roanhorse Consulting’s projects include partnering with the City of Albuquerque’s City Navigators program to grow capacity and access to capital for the city’s small business owners who face culture, language and geography barriers. RCLLC also collaborates with other Indigenous entities, like the Indigenous Business Waterway Initiative, which is a national Indigenous leaders council focused on creating a connected and rational Native American entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Learn more about Roanhorse Consulting’s work at: www.roanhorseconsulting.com

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