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Staff / Board of Directors

Nila Whiteshirt Sears

Associate Director, Upward Bound Math Science Project, Site Coordinator, Mt. Adams High School

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.

After receiving her BA in Social Work at Heritage University in Toppenish, Nila went on to earn a Master’s in Social Work at Walla Walla University. She is especially proud of raising her children while attending college and obtaining both degrees, back-to-back. She was employed as a social worker and a Behavioral Health Therapist for nearly two decades before joining Altera in 2018. She embraces her role in the Upward Bound Math Science program, recruiting and encouraging Hispanic, American Indian and white students to reach ambitious goals they might never have considered for themselves.

One of the things Nila loves most about her job is telling her students stories about how her hard work in college helped her to move from jobs in the fast-food industry to earning a living as their enthusiastic cheerleader about the life-changing benefits of post-secondary education.

Nila’s most treasured possession is her health, which she credits to the unconditional love she receives from her siblings, her five children, her eleven grandchildren, and all her other family members. Her favorite expression is OMG. Especially when she thinks about how lucky she is to have them in her life.