Board of Directors
& Program Advisors
Our Board of Directors and Program Advisory Board is made up of dedicated and passionate elders, teachers, mentors, and community leaders from around the nation. Each volunteers their time as necessary.
We wish to thank Theresa Two Bulls for all of her work over the years in helping to develop and shape these programs. We will carry your work forward. Mitákuye Oyás'iŋ.
Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin
Board of Directors
Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin received her doctorate in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in May 2017 where she graduated with Honors (Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key.) Her research focused on the historical, cultural, and spiritual relationship between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the horse. She is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST), and she is currently conducting her post-doctoral research at CAGT (Centre for Anthropobiology and Genomics of Toulouse) in Toulouse, France. During her decade of pre-research on this topic, she drew from the histories and traditional teachings of many Native Nations whose Elders wished to share their knowledge. Dr. Running Horse Collin is one of the Founders of Sacred Way Sanctuary and the Native American Horse Trail.
Dr. Running Horse Collin is an award-winning journalist, and has held various executive positions at non-profit institutions around the United States. She has advised state, federal and Fortune 100 organizations on Native American policy. She lectures extensively throughout the United States and internationally on her people’s traditions and history surrounding the horse at academic and Native leadership conferences such as the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE), the Canadian Indigenous/Native Studies Association (CINSA), the Alaska Native Studies Conference, and Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s Prophecy of the Grandfather’s Conference. She practices the traditional ways of her Ancestors and is a wife, mother, and grandmother.
Dr. Running Horse Collin received her B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University (Writing Seminars), and a Joint M.A. from New York University (Journalism and Latin American Caribbean Studies.) She has also benefited from many years of training from her Elders, and considers these to be some of her most precious and important educational opportunities. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships, and was granted Fellowships at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 2016-2017 (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship), 2014-2015 (UAF Indigenous Studies Fellowship) and 2013-2014 (UAF Indigenous Studies Fellowship.) She also proudly serves as part of the Administrative Team for the Black Hills Sioux Nation Council of Elders.
Board of Directors
Sean Collin has spent 27 years in the field of global law and management. He is admitted to practice law in three countries, and he has lectured at universities, institutes, and/or professional seminars in more than ten countries. He has worked on matters in over 50 countries. Sean holds an economics and law degree (with honors) from Otago University in New Zealand, and an LLM (with distinction) from Georgetown University.
Sean is Assistant Professor of Business Law at the University of North Alabama and is Executive Director of the UNA Institute for Innovation and Technology Transfer. He is the recipient of multiple awards and recognitions for his work in the field and is a frequent speaker at international professional conferences. Sean has served on the board of and aided numerous non-profit organizations, both within the United States and internationally, for decades. He has been an accredited United Nations NGO Representative in Geneva and New York. He is of Cherokee, Yuchi, and European descent, and practices the traditional ways of his ancestors.
Board of Directors
Tom Kanatakeniate Cook was born on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation in Upstate New York and graduated from the City University with a BA in Anthropology and Sociology. He then became a news reporter and traveled to Pine Ridge during the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation. At that time he met his wife Loretta Afraid of Bear. Tom is fluent in Lakota, and together with his wife they have lived with and served the Lakota people for more than 30 years.
Tom is a tireless social activist who involves himself in multiple projects and organizations. He is a Field Coordinator for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization started by Oglala Lakota Olympian Billy Mills. Tom oversees the Slim Butte Land Use Association where he has worked to develop sustainable housing projects that involve the community using local, sustainable resources. He also directs a successful agricultural development project overseeing hundreds of community-based gardens on the reservation, which promote nutritional education and self-reliance to the youth of Pine Ridge. Tom is a ceremonial leader who travels the world sharing spiritual and traditional ecological knowledge.
We are honored to have Tom Cook as a Board Member.
Board of Directors
Jim Stephens is of European and Choctaw descent. He has a strong background in economic development, and a broad range of experience in commercial real estate marketing and management. His career and experience in these fields span more than four decades. He has a degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a degree in Business Administration from Texas Christian University. Jim serves on a number of boards and councils, including the Oklahoma Heritage Horse Sanctuary and the Southwest Spanish Mustang Association. He is also the owner and founder of Chahta Isuba Ranch and the Hungry Horse Café, both of which were founded to help to ensure the long term survival of the horses of Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, and to educate the public as to their historical and cultural significance.
We are honored to have Jim Stephens as a Board Member.
Loretta Afraid-of-Bear is the faith-keeper and holder of the Afraid of Bear/ American Horse Sundance Pipe. Fluent in Lakota, she serves as a Cultural Specialist for her people. She is a dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother. Loretta carries an enormous mission with respect to the Black Hills: returning its management to the Oceti Sakowin (the Seven Council Fires), also known as the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Peoples.
Loretta has the following consensus from her Peoples: "The Black Hills are not for sale. We want all the unseated lands in the Black Hills back, returned to the 9 tribes."
As Loretta states, "Native peoples, First Nations Peoples, are calling for access to their sacred sites. That is what this whole process became for me, was to access sacred sites and to get them back into our hands so that we can share with the world the way that we provide stewardship and guardianship."
Loretta Afraid-of-Bear and her husband, Tom Cook, together with their people, are sponsors of a Sundance ceremony, which takes place at the Wild Horse Sanctuary grounds in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Loretta is a Board Member for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, and the Center for Sacred Studies. She and her husband Tom also enable food security and help to put in hundreds of gardens across Pine Ridge Reservation, alone, each year. Loretta's late mother, Beatrice Long Visitor, held a seat on the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Serving as her translator and helper, Loretta accompanied her mother around the world for many years to share her People's traditions, and she continues to teach and share her culture with people around the globe.
We are honored to have Loretta as our Spiritual and Cultural Advisor.
Loretta Afraid of
Bear - Cook
Spiritual & Cultural
We are honored to have horseman Pat Hooks as Program Advisor for our Ancient Horse of the
Americas Preservation Program and Equine Training Camps. Pat has lived with horses and
livestock all of this life and has participated in every level of their care. However, his connection
to the horse goes much deeper. He explains the following about the knowledge he has gained:
“This knowledge belongs to God – the Creator – and the Spirit of the Horse; It does not belong
It is Pat’s desire to honor his Native American heritage by working with Native youth and giving
back to Native communities that first brought him to Sacred Healing Circle and Sacred Way
Sanctuary. He states the following: “[The Lakota Holy Man] Black Elk taught about the
importance of coming ‘full circle.’ He taught that if you have enough life left in you to share
with the youth, then you are a blessed man. This philosophy speaks to me.”
As is traditional, Pat acknowledges his mentors for their guidance and training. The teachings
he offers were passed down to him from the legendary horsemen Bill and Tom Dorrance and Ed
Connell. He also deeply appreciates the knowledge he gained from horsemen Bill Black, Ray
Hunt, and Doug Milholland. Since the 1980s Pat has provided clinics at national horse expos,
private ranches, universities and colleges. He has shared his knowledge with private
apprentices, 4-H students, college students, and prisoners.
Pat has been the author of many how-to articles for a number of equine newspapers and
magazines, answered questions submitted to AQHA’s America’s Horse website, and been a
guest on RFDTV and Horse TV. Pat is the author of the book 101 Ranch Horse Tips: Techniques
for Training the Working Cattle Horse, and the 3 DVD set titled Fix it Up for the Horse.
Pat lives on his ranch in Oklahoma with his wife Terri, his horses, and his border collies. He is a
father of four and a grandfather of eight.
Ancient Horse of the Americas Preservation Program &
We are proud to have Jacquelyn Córdova as a Program Coordinator and Media Specialist. Jacquelyn’s ancestors have called the Taos, New Mexico area “home” for hundreds of years, and she brings
a deep understanding of community with her everywhere she goes. She is an exceptional leader who is passionate about multi-cultural community building, youth empowerment, and Indigenous sovereignty. Her photography, graphic design, social media, and film making skills help bring our programs to life for those interested in following our work.
Jacquelyn currently serves as the Community and Partnership Program Director for Sacred Way Sanctuary in Florence, Alabama, and she is a Mentor for the International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC). As Jacquelyn explains, the many months that she spent on the front lines at Standing Rock in 2016 to protect the Missouri River taught her the following: “It is actually possible to live the way we want to live. In this world, many of us are raised to believe that if we can’t see it with our physical eyes, then it is not real. But at Standing Rock I saw and felt thousands of people coming together to stand for a universal truth. I felt it there, so I know it is real. And this truth can be recreated and held wherever The People will it to happen.”
Jacquelyn also utilized her Media and Communications expertise during her time with Metta Theatre and Taos Alive. She has a degree in Marketing and Communications from Columbia College Chicago, where she was a recipient of the Daniels Fund Scholarship.
Currently, Jacquelyn lives with her Horse Nation family in Tennessee and she looks forward to continuing her education in Indigenous Leadership.
Program Coordinator & Media Specialist
Finance & Development
Community Relations & Outreach
Sacred Healing Circle is honored to have Kayla Lofton serving in the position of Community Relations and Outreach. Kayla is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST), and she has managed Sacred Way Sanctuary’s visitor center, museum and gift shop since 2019. Kayla is currently attending the University of North Alabama, and she works to celebrate her American Indian and African American lineage each day.
Kayla is well traveled, and has taken the time to learn about other cultures and traditions during her endeavors. She stands with her relatives to protect Unci Maka (Mother Earth) whenever necessary. Kayla enjoys contributing specifically to our Native American Horse Preservation Program, projects on Pine Ridge Reservation, and our “House of Indigenous Knowledge” project.
Sacred Healing Circle is proud to have Megan Hayes serving in the position of Finance and Development. Megan has worked in the field of finance for more than two decades, and we are honored to have her support and expertise. Megan has a B.S. degree in Human Development, an M.A. in Professional Studies, and is currently pursuing a M.S. degree in Family and Community Service.
Megan and her family currently dedicate their time to helping to ensure that each of our projects is a success. Mrs. Hayes is dedicated to helping us to expand our program outreach and strengthen our alliances in Europe and other countries. Our vision here at Sacred Healing Circle is large, and Megan is prepared to help us to step into it.
© 2017 Sacred Healing Circle by Northern Vision Productions