Our People

Leoyla Cowboy, Diné

Program Director

Leoyla Cowboy, is a proud citizen of the Dine Nation whose roots come from Breadsprings, NM. She studied Business Administration and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She has worked as a grassroots organizer with the Red Nation Coalition, based in Albuquerque, NM. Leoyla testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing on the criminalization of Indigenous people fighting resource extraction and worked with various groups on dismantling settler colonialism. Currently, she is a director for the Water Protector Legal Collective, prison abolitionist, and an active member of the NoDAPL political prisoners support committee. Leoyla is honored to be a part of this, “we are a family” and it is incredible to have this opportunity to share this knowledge and work with everyone possible.

Natali Segovia, Quechua

Legal Director

Natali Segovia is an international human rights lawyer with a background and extensive past experience in criminal defense work and Federal Indian Law. As a litigator and advocate, Natali’s current work focuses on the protection of the Earth and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Original Nations affected by forced displacement, desecration of sacred lands, and human rights violations as a result of extractive industry and mass development projects. She is currently Legal Director of the Water Protector Legal Collective, a legal nonprofit that grew out of the #NoDAPL resistance at Standing Rock that works to provide legal support and advocacy for Indigenous Peoples and Original Nations, the Earth, and climate justice movements. Natali earned her law degree at Arizona State University with a concentration in International Law and Federal Indian Law, in addition to dual undergraduate degrees in Latin American Studies and Political Science from Columbia University. She currently serves as chair of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Committee, is a steering committee member of the NLG International Committee, and co-chairs the NLG’s Task Force on the Americas.

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Michelle Cook, Diné

International Director/Indigenous Human Rights Defender and Corporate Accountability Program Director

Michelle Cook is WPLC’s International/Indigenous Human Rights Defender and Corporate Accountability Program Director.  For several years, she worked locally and globally with Indigenous peoples on issues such as access to justice, customary law, business, and human rights. She has received major grants and fellowship opportunities including a Fulbright Fellowship to study Indigenous justice and customary legal systems in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and an Open Society Fellowship in 2018 to develop business and Indigenous human rights education materials and opportunities. She has testified before UN bodies and representatives and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Michelle's work and projects have been featured in Responsible Investor, TIME, Reuters, GLAMOUR, The Guardian, and Cultural Survival International. In 2015, she received my Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from the University of New Mexico. She is now a SJD Candidate at the University of Arizona School of Law.

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Nizhoni Begay, Diné/Quechua

Communications Coordinator

Nizhoni Begay is the Communications Coordinator at the Water Protector Legal Collective. Alongside her work at WPLC, she is co-editor on the To-Be-Named Graphic Anthology by Red Planet Books & Comics featuring Water Protectors. Nizhoni graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Political Science and minors in Music and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her previous experience includes doing research at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, cultivating community at Stanford’s Native American Cultural Center as president of Diné Club, and staffing at Stanford’s Native American themed residence, Muwekma-Tah-Ruk. Nizhoni has ties to several organizations internationally who she works with from time to time. These include Ayudando Latinos A Soñar in Half Moon Bay, Students for Workers’ Rights, and the Justice 4 Black Lives Fund in collaboration with Stanford Alpha Kappa Alpha. In 2020, Nizhoni was awarded the Award of Excellence, an award designed to recognize the top 10% of the class who have demonstrated a sincere commitment through involvement and leadership, from the Stanford Alumni Association.

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Jaden Cowboy,
AfroIndigenous of the Diné Nation

Community Legal Liaison

Jaden Cowboy is an Afro-Indigenous woman from the Diné nation. Her community organizing started when she was in high school beginning at The Red Nation. Jaden began her professional relationship with the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps as a team member which furthered her drive to support the conservation of our land and water. She temporarily relocated to North Dakota, during the #NoDAPL movement, where she took an active role as an volunteer, completing work ranging from on the ground tasks to support work. In 2017, Jaden began volunteering with Water Protector Legal Collective before being hired onto staff as a paralegal. In 2018, Jaden was awarded the AWAKE Media Fellowship created by the leaders of the AWAKE Media Project, a collective of filmmakers and community leaders helping young Native American journalists and filmmakers. At AWAKE Media, they envision a world where the youth have the resources and tools necessary to tell stories of resistance and cultural engagement.. In 2019, they were invited to be part of the 2019 North American Indigenous Youth Leadership Development Training. Currently, Jaden is WPLC’s Community Legal Liaison.

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Summer Aubrey, Cherokee

Law Fellow,  Indigenous Human Rights Defenders & Corporate Accountability Program

Summer Blaze Aubrey is Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a Descendant of the Blackfeet Nation. Summer graduated from the University of Arizona College of Law in 2020 and 2021 with her J.D. and LL.M. respectively, with certificates in Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy. Summer was the first legal intern at the International Indian Treaty Council during her second year in law school. Her article: Violence Against the Earth Begets Violence Against Women was published in the Arizona Journal for Environmental Law & Policy in 2019. Currently, Summer is the law fellow for the Indigenous Human Rights Defenders & Corporate Accountability Program and the staff attorney for International Indian Treaty Council.

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Juliana Repp, Nez Perce

Chair, Board of Directors

Juliana Repp, Nez Perce tribal member, was an indispensable volunteer attorney on the ground at Oceti Sakowin camp during the fall and winter of 2016-2017.  A tireless advocate for the underprivileged, she is currently a Managing Attorney with the Unemployment Law Project in Spokane, WA. Juliana has served as a Public Defender, as a Legal Services attorney, as chair of the Nez Perce Tribal Enterprise Board, Interim Chief Judge at Nez Perce Tribal Court, Administrative Law Judge for the Colville Tribes, and on the Court of Appeals for the Suquamish Tribe. She was in private practice for more than twelve years representing clients in family law cases, including ICWA cases, civil rights, enrollment cases and general civil matters, in multiple jurisdictions. Juliana has practiced law in numerous tribal courts including those of the Nez Perce, Coeur d’Alene, Colville, Kalispel, Spokane, Standing Rock and Yakama Nations, as well as the state and federal courts of Washington and Idaho.

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Nazune Menka, Lumbee/Athabascan

Treasurer, Board of Directors

Born and raised in Alaska, Nazune Menka is Koyukon Athabascan and Lumbee. Nazune Menka is the Tribal Cultural Resources Project Policy Fellow at UC Berkeley Law, working with California Indigenous communities on the preservation, protection, and repatriation of sacred sites, homelands, ancestral remains, and cultural heritage. A graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law’s Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy (IPLP) program, as a law student, Nazune participated in the international human rights clinic researching and drafting the initial report to the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights on Standing Rock. Nazune is also Of Counsel at Rosette, LLP a national law firm serving Indian Country. Before completing law school Nazune completed a M.S. in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Arizona, she has worked on policy issues at the Alaska State Governor’s office, the Hawai’i State Legislature, and has completed various intern and management programs at the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the House Committee on Natural Resources. She holds an undergraduate degree in Public Relations from North Carolina State University. Nazune also serves as Treasurer for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

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Rachel Lederman

Secretary, Board of Directors

A founding member of the Water Protector Legal Collective, Rachel Lederman is coordinating WPLC’s team of cooperating civil rights attorneys on the Dundon lawsuit. She is a people’s lawyer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who represents activists, people abused by the police, tenants, workers, prisoners, and accident victims . She is a member of the Oakland Law Collaborative, past President of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter, and a member of the national NLG Mass Defense Steering Committee and NLG National Police Accountability Project. Rachel has successfully defended thousands of political demonstrators and has obtained significant victories in civil rights impact litigation to stop police and government repression of dissent over the last thirty years.

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Daniel T'seleie, Dene

Board Member

Daniel is K’asho Got’ine Dene from Radili Ko (also known as Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories). As K’asho Got’ine Chief Negotiator he manages his community’s self-government negotiations with Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories. Daniel holds a J.D. from the University of Victoria and a B.Sc. in mathematical sciences from McMaster University. Daniel has worked in the areas of education, journalism, government policy, unskilled labour, and lands and environmental management in Dene communities with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation. In his free time Daniel is a practitioner and trainer of non-violent direct action tactics and strategy, with a focus on environmental and climate justice and assertions of Indigenous sovereignty. He is also a founding member of Dene Nahjo, a northern non-profit dedicated to advancing social and environmental justice for northern peoples while promoting Indigenous leadership by fostering emerging leaders.

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Jeffrey Haas

Board Member

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Jeffrey Haas is a criminal defense and civil rights attorney who represents progressive movements and victims of police abuse. A founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago (1969-2003), he was co-counsel in Hampton vs. Hanrahan, a 13 year civil rights case that exposed the FBI-led Cointelpro conspiracy that resulted in a Chicago Police raid on Dec. 4, 1969 that killed Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and a successful campaign to expose Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s legacy of torture. Jeff also represented persons charged after the prison rebellions at Attica in 1971 and Pontiac prison in 1978. From 2016 to 2018, Jeff was one of the criminal defense attorneys defending Water Protectors at Standing Rock. He currently lives in New Mexico, with his wife Mariel Nanasi, the ED of New Energy Economy in Santa Fe. There, Jeff defended Mora County’s ban on fracking in civil suit by Shell Oil. He has served as Chair of EcoViva, which works toward sustainable development in Central America. Jeff is author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, a renowned book that is currently being turned into a Hollywood film.

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Pat Handlin

Board Member

Pat Handlin is a criminal defense and civil attorney based in Chicago who has represented numerous Water Protectors facing misdemeanor charges stemming from the Standing Rock No DAPL movement. Pat spent time staffing the legal tent at Oceti Sakowin camp in winter 2016 and has been one of our most active Pro Hac attorneys, continuing through 2019. She is also providing pro bono legal research support for the challenge to TC Energy’s permit application to use water for the KXL pipeline. She has been a public defender, legal services attorney, administrative law judge on employment discrimination matters, represented numerous Occupy Chicago activists, and has litigated to protect victims of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

King Downing

Board Member

King Downing is a lawyer and founder of the Human Rights-Racial Justice Center (H2RJ), which advocates and organizes for criminal and economic justice. Previously, he was the Mass Defense Director for the National Lawyers Guild, directed the Healing Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee, and was National Coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling. King was also part of the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee and was an early organizer in Jena, Louisiana supporting the Jena 6, Black high school students charged with attempted murder for a fistfight with a white student.

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Carolina Martin Ramos, Mexica/Tsalagi Kin

Board Member

Carolina Martin Ramos (Mexica MestizaTsalagi Kin) is the Co-Executive Director and Legal DIrector of Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, a Maya and Indigenous led immigration legal services program prioritizing Indigenous water protectors and land defenders seeking asylum after fleeing persecution, torture, and genocide in Maya Territories; human rights advocacy across borders in Maya territories and the U.S.; and Maya migrant civic engagement in the U.S.; and working with sovereign Maya nations and leadership in developing nation-to-nation governmental, diplomatic, and spiritual relations. Carolina spent time serving the water protectors at Standing Rock, and is also the Secretary of Ethics and Security for the Secretariat of Congress of Nations and States (CNS), an initiative launched by Indigenous nations’ leaders, non-governmental organizations, and state political leaders that seeks to strengthen and improve relations between peoples throughout the world; has been the Director of Programs and Advocacy for  Centro Legal de la Raza; and has extensive experience in immigration law as well as a Public Defender.