Board of Directors
Meet our dedicated team. Our Board of Directors have nearly fifty years of combined educational experience in the classroom and administration of schools. Our board members are long-time Nevadans with deep roots to our rural and urban Indigenous communities.
How mu. Nu Lance West me nanea. Nu Cui-ui Dicutta. Nu pooenabe tunedooedu agai dicutta. How are all of you. My name is Lance West. I am a citizen of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. I am Co-founder and President of Indigenous Educators Empowerment, a 501c3 nonprofit focused on improving Indian Education in Nevada. I am Elementary Principal for Schurz Elementary School, a public K-6 school located on the tribal lands of the Walker River Paiute Reservation. I am also an elected school board member for Pyramid Lake Junior/Senior High School, a 6-12 BIE-funded school, located in Nixon, Nevada on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation.
Mercedes Krause was born and raised in Las Vegas and is a citizen of the Oglala, Lakota Nation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has a master’s in Administrative Leadership with a focus on American Indian Education. Krause is also the proud mother of three daughters, has over 15 years of teaching experience in the Clark County School District, and is a co-founder of Indigenous Educators Empowerment. She also holds title roles with the Nevada Minority Affairs Commission, the Clark County Native American Caucus, the Native American Alumni Club at UNLV, the Las Vegas Indian Center, Battle Born Progress, and the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee with the Nevada Department of Education. Mercedes is a tireless advocate for pushing forward initiatives that benefit Indigenous peoples and all communities. Currently, she is working to improve data collection for Native American students in Nevada. Counting Indigenous students and making these numbers equitably available, along with other groups, will ensure that eligible Native students have access to proper services. Krause is also collaborating with others to increase Indigenous educator recruitment and retention. She has also been a leader in the fight to advance curriculum that accurately represents Native Americans at the K-12 level in Nevada.
Rata Elmore is an educator, mother, advisor, advocate, and protector of Maori taonga. She is a director of Indigenous Educators Empowerment and collaborates with a number of Indigenous peoples, both in the United States and around the world. For years, Rata has been a powerful ally in the Native American community. Since 2018, she has served as a community member with the American Indian Education Opportunities Program in Clark County School District. She is also the founder of Kiwis in Las Vegas, a grassroots group that connects New Zealanders in culture, values, and community, as they build relationships while living abroad. Rata is an advocate for promoting, protecting, and defending Maori and Indigenous cultures from appropriation – a topic that she has consulted on from the K-12 to collegiate levels. She is also available as a cultural consultant and has experience sharing proper methods and protocols to display Moari culture through both online and in-person informational sessions. Rata understands, and has taught her three sons, that they do not stand on their own whenua (land), but they do walk on Papatuanuku (Mother Earth), so the concerns of Indigenous Americans are also her own.