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Heather Gordon Adjunct Professorial Lecturer Office of Global and Immersive Studies Faculty

BA Race and Ethnic Studies, University of Redlands
MS Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
PhD Indigenous Studies with a concentration in Indigenous Sustainability, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Heather Sauyaq (Soy-ugkh) Jean Kwamboka Gordon is the owner and principle consultant at Sauyaq Solutions, working with Indigenous Tribes and communities on research, evaluation, and technical assistance. Heather was born and raised in Homer, Alaska. She is Iñupiaq and an enrolled Tribal member of the Nome Eskimo Community, a federally recognized Tribe. Her Iñupiaq name is Sauyaq which means drum. She works to be a good relative and advocate for Indigenous people, beating the drum to lift up Indigenous voices. The Sauyaq or drum is used at all gatherings and ceremonies to bring people together. In some Iñupiaq dialects the word for ‘skin’ of the drum also means ‘future eye’ relating to the ‘eye of awareness’. Heather married into a Kenyan Kisii Tribal family and was gifted the name Kwamboka which means crossing a bridge. She was gifted this name her second visit to Kenya when she was able to move between her own and the Kisii culture.

Heather holds a PhD in Indigenous Studies with a concentration in Indigenous Sustainability. Prior to devoting her time fully to Sauyaq Solutions, she was employed at Child Trends in the Youth Development program, working to improve Indigenous children, youth, and family well being. Heather was an evaluator in the Division of Program Evaluation and Planning at the Administration for Native Americans in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) before Child Trends. She has served as a subject matter expert on working with Indigenous people and in that capacity advised the ACF on their work around missing and murdered Native Americans, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) on methodologies appropriate to working with Indigenous people and other vulnerable and minority populations, Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) on drafting the Arctic Research Plan (ARP) 2022-2026, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on documents and work around Indigenous Knowledge.
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