Potlatch Fund Staff

Dana Arviso, Diné
Executive Director

Dana is committed to improving communities and working for social improvements through education and philanthropy.

Dana Arviso became the Executive Director of Potlatch Fund in June 2011, after working for the organization since July 2007. Inspired by the ask at the 2006 Potlatch Fund Gala, she became a volunteer and then a staff member, working her way from being a Data Administrator to Bookkeeper to Finance and Evaluation Manager. She is a 2008 graduate of First Nations Development Institute’s Seattle LEAD Program and participated in Leadership Tomorrow’s Class of 2011.

While primarily focused on the needs of Native Americans, Dana has dedicated her life to combating the social and economic disparities that affect all communities of color in the Pacific Northwest. Dana has served on the Board of Directors of Social Justice Fund Northwest since August 2010 and was a part of the inaugural Next Generation Giving Project. She recently joined the board of Native Americans in Philanthropy in April 2011. She has also served as a non-voting board member of Longhouse Media since 2009.

Dana grew up on the Bishop Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation in California and earned her bachelor's degree from California State University, Sacramento, in Child Development. She previously worked as an early childhood educator within her Tribe's family literacy program before moving to Seattle in 2004 to pursue a graduate degree. She earned her Masters of Education degree in 2006 from the University of Washington with an emphasis on Language, Literacy, and Culture. To keep her life balanced, Dana enjoys cooking, running and bikram yoga, and exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.


Lawrence Leake
Managing Director

The excitement of our grantees is a vivid indicator of what personal empowerment brings to community.

Lawrence holds a Master in Teaching degree (Seattle University), a Bachelor of Arts degree in History (University of California – Santa Barbara), and extensive experience in a myriad of settings. Before joining Potlatch Fund he spent 10 years in Japan, beginning with a four-year stint in the sales and marketing department of Amita Machines. He was also Managing Director of Overseaz (sic) English Academy, in Toyohashi, Japan. Lawrence returned to Seattle with his three children in 2005 and joined Potlatch Fund in March 2006.


Tachini Pete, Salish/Diné
Program Director

Philanthropy and reciprocity are deeply rooted in Native American culture; Tachini is dedicated to contributing to society by using his education, experience and skills to enhance and strengthen community prosperity.

Tachini Pete was raised in both the Flathead Reservation and Navajo Reservation with strong cultural values in the Salish and Navajo traditions. His mother is Salish and his father Navajo. He is the father of four children, three sons ages, 22, 18, 12 and one daughter, age 15. He has been an avid learner and teacher of the Salish language since 1994. Tachini is a learner by nature. He has earned Certificate’s of Completion in Automotive Technology from Wyoming Technical Institute and Salish Cultural Leadership from Salish Kootenai College (SKC); Associate’s degrees in Native American Studies and Bilingual Education from SKC. In 2001 he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Montana Western and in 2010 he graduated from Gonzaga University with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. His work activities include a small business selling Native American drums online (Tachini Drums, www.tachinidrums.com), teaching, curriculum development, and most notable, in 2002 Tachini was the lead co-founder and served as executive director of the non-profit organization, Nkwusm, Salish Language Revitalization Institute until December 2011. His major accomplishments include publication of the first modern Salish language translation dictionary in 1998 followed up with a more comprehensive 816 page second edition (Medicine for the Salish Language, SKC Press) with thousands of entries published in 2010. Tachini is devoted to strengthening community and empowering youth through the wisdom of indigenous languages. His forte is second language acquisition, language revitalization and small business development.


Maria Griffin, Spokane;
Program Coordinator

Maria recognizes that each tribal community, whether rural or urban, has its own culture and approach to its programs. She believes that a community with strong cultural ties and traditions with a long-range community vision are the keys to a successful journey towards a sustained healthy community.

Maria Griffin holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry, both with the emphasis of Biotechnology, and a Master of Arts in English, with an emphasis in Rhetoric, Composition, and Technical Communication from Eastern Washington University. In her professional life of over 25 years, Maria has been a project manager, technical assistance specialist, trainer, technical writer, and team leader. She focuses her organizational and management skills in the areas of community and economic development in urban and rural Native American communities. Maria has provided training and technical assistance to over 200 native communities in project planning and development, grant application writing and identification of target audience, entrepreneurial development, community outreach through social media, cultural competency, internet research, foundation funding, building partnerships, program budget and activity analysis, and strategic planning for grant completion and program sustainability. Maria lives in Spokane, WA with her husband Ken, and their cat Aurora.


Mary Kummer, Makah
Office Manager

Mary is witness to the success and collaborative atmosphere between Native urban, reservation and rural perspectives that demonstrate sustainability by positioning ourselves for opportunities, inviting people and forming relationships that create workable strategies that influence change.

Mary is the Office Manager at Potlatch Fund. She has explored a creative mix of work experience and leveraged the teachings from her more than two decades of work with Tribal, federal, and private entities that has taught her the importance of relationships as strategic and truly supportive workplaces. No matter where Native people live - on or off reservation, whether a federally or non-federally recognized individual, we talk and address change through adaptation, transformation and resilience. She additionally benefited from her own experience as a mother which has an added value dimension to her work by adding a certain conscientiousness, discipline and responsibility that all parents share and bring to the workplace. Her personal and cultural experiences from residing on the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsula have taught her that women have a continuum of community networks that flow from reservation and urban relations that unites us to progress as academics and professionals, obtain access to quality healthcare, and improve and protect our lands and waters. “I hope to make everyone proud and to do my best to build on the amazing work that has already been completed.”


Damara Jacobs-Morris, Squamish
Development and Communications Manager

Philanthropy as translated from its Greek origin and history means, “love of humanity.” The significance of this word is deeply rooted within Damara’s worldview. She truly believes that through philanthropy and education we can achieve positive and meaningful social change.

Damara Jacobs-Morris carries the Ancestral names Cha7awtenaat iy Siyamiya. She is proud of her Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and African American ancestry. She was born and raised in the villages of Xwemelch’stn and Esla7han (Capilano and Mission Indian Reserves) located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Damara grew up surrounded by educators and artists, an aspect of her identity that lead her to choose a career in creative fields. She received a B.A. in Communications from Simon Fraser University and a M.A. with honors in Art and Visual Culture Education from the University of Arizona. Her academic background reflects her two passions: people and art. Damara has worked extensively within her own community and with cultural and non-profit organizations in the United States and Canada. She has occupied several roles throughout her professional life; she has been a curator, designer, educator, and facilitator. She successfully ran a small business offering public relations and project management services to Tribal governments, schools, museums, community centers and Native entrepreneurs. Damara is passionate and dedicated to community-building programming, cross-cultural dialogue and civic engagement. She is honored to be a part of the Potlatch Fund and looks forward to contributing to the exceptional work being done within Native communities.