Our exceptional staff keeps kids focused on achieving their highest aspirations, through education.
Barbara Peterson’s career path has been interesting, to say the least. She has worked as a policy analyst for Interamerica studying the social service needs of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the Yakima Valley; a bus driver (and proud member of the Amalgamated Transit Union) for Metro Transit in Seattle; a senior financial analyst at BankAmerica; an analyst of higher education policy at the Higher Education Coordinating Board; and Director of LASER (Lawyers and Students Engaged in Resolution) for the Office of the Attorney General. And that’s only a partial list. Since 1999 she has been a director, now Executive Director of ALTERA, formerly NLA Group, an educational nonprofit located in Wapato on the Yakama reservation in the Yakima Valley in Washington State.
Born in Fresno, California, Sandra moved to Longview, Washington with her family when she was in fourth grade. After marrying, she and her husband lived at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, and Edwards AFB in Mohave, California before moving back to Kent, Washington and finally to Zillah, where they have been happily settled for the past 16 years.
Born and raised in Eastern Montana, Luann Anderson grew up as one of eleven on a farm, where her job every day was doing whatever job needed to be done. The work ethic and dedication of her parents continue to inspire her to this day. She has also lived in Bismarck and Turtle Lake (North Dakota) Plevna, Flaxville, Whitehall, and Florence (Montana), Dupree (South Dakota), and Cowiche (Washington), where she serves the kindergarten through third-grade students at Marcus Whitman Elementary in the Highland School District. Not every small town in the West, but an impressive number of them! </
The middle child of five siblings, Jeanette Kinlichinii was born to a Navajo mother and a French Canadian/Chippewa father and was raised on the on the Navajo Nation until she was 13 years old. Since then, she has lived in southern and northern California, central Michigan, the Colorado Rockies, Portland, Oregon, and western and eastern Washington. Currently, she is residing in Moxee, WA, “The Hops Capital”.
Michael Kranz grew up in the small Eastern Washington town of Tieton, not far from the intermediate school where he now works. He graduated from Highland High School in 2001 and continued his education at Central Washington University where he received his Bachelor of Sciences degree in Recreational Management.
Diego Laguna attended Missouri Baptist University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Marketing and minor in Business Administration, and his Master of Sciences in Sport Management. Before moving to Washington State, he was Student Coordinator at Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services. Originally from Lima, Peru, Diego continues to be inspired by the hardworking and dedicated teachers and coaches at his school in Peru.
Fredy Marin earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Yakima Valley College in 2021. He has lived in the Tieton/Cowiche area since he was six years old, where he completed all his schooling in the Highland School District before taking a job first as a tutor for four years in the “Make Change” program before becoming the full time Junior/Senior Site Coordinator.
Dawn Miller was born in Seattle, but spent most of her life growing up elsewhere, including Fort Wayne, Indiana; Bayard, Nebraska; and Tonasket, Washington, where her father became a pastor at the same church where his father had served as pastor before him. She now resides in the town of Oroville. There’s no place in the world where she would rather live, because she can hike, hunt, fish, garden, and swim, all just a short distance from her own front door.
Brandon Speers was born and raised in Puyallup, Washington, and earned an AA degree from nearby Green River Community College. After working in the restaurant and food industry for 15 years, he moved to Tonasket and took a job with AmeriCorps, tutoring and providing afterschool programs at Tonasket Elementary School. Inspired by how much he loved this work, he returned to college and earned a degree in Elementary Education from Western Governors University.
Bertha Villa-Maldonado has a Bachelor of Arts in Education, endorsed in Spanish, English Language Arts (ELA) and English as a Second Language (ESL) from Eastern Washington University. She received a Masters in Foreign Languages/Cultures and Pedagogy from Washington State University, and completed Ph.D. courses in Literature at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Mexican-American literature.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Nila Whiteshirt is enrolled Pawnee with Otoe and Arapaho Tribal affiliations. She currently lives on the Yakama Nation Indian Reservation. Nila continues to draw on her innate spirituality, which was nurtured and developed through generations of family members helping each other navigate their lives. Her native cultural ties have always inspired her to be resilient and attentive to her place in the world, professionally and personally.