Tribal Nations Education Committee Elects New Leadership

LLBO Education Director Laurie Harper is the new chairperson for the TNEC

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CASS LAKE- The Tribal Nations Education Committee (TNEC) elected Laurie Harper as its new Chair and Beth Tepper as its new Vice-Chair on January 17, 2024.

Chair Harper has served as the TNEC representative for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe since 2018 and was voted in during a special election to fill the recently vacated seat of Jennifer Murray, who served as Chairperson for four years representing the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Harper works as the Director of Education for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe providing leadership to its early childhood, Gaa-Niigaaniziwaad (youth leadership), and scholarship programs, as well workforce development. On a national level, Harper also serves as the current President of the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA).

Ms. Harper is excited to step into this important leadership role, stating that “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to serve all eleven tribal nations as the Tribal Nations Education committee chair. I thank those that have served in the role before me and I take the responsibility to heart, as our children and youth deserve the best possible outcome in a system that was not designed for us. I will continue to advocate for equity and access for our American Indian students, in ways that have been deemed priority by our Tribal Nations.”

Vice-Chair Tepper succeeds Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa representative Maria Burnett, who did not seek reelection. Tepper has represented the Twin Cities Metropolitan area on the committee since 2022 and is currently the Director of Achievement and Integration and the Director of Indian Education for Robbinsdale Area Schools. Prior to joining Robbinsdale, she spent eight years as the Director of Education and TNEC representative for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Ms. Tepper states, “I am excited to step into this leadership role for our tribal nations in Minnesota. I am also honored to give a voice to our metro area American Indian students and families who may need support with their educational needs.”

Harper and Tepper join current committee secretary Billie Annette in the composition of the TNEC Executive Leadership Team. Ms. Annette has an expansive career serving Tribal members in the field of education and has worked for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) since 1986. She has served as the MCT appointed TNEC representative since 2007 and is looking forward to collaborating with both Laurie and Beth on improving educational opportunities for Native youth and families in Minnesota.


About TNEC:

The Tribal Nations Education Committee (TNEC) was established to remedy the lack of government-to-government communication, cooperation and consultation between the State of Minnesota and tribal nations related to education. The mission of the TNEC is to strengthen, protect, and advance the overall educational experience and opportunities for all American Indian students, families, and communities of Minnesota.

The TNEC consists of representatives from each of the eleven Tribal Nations of Minnesota, along with one representative from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT), one from greater Minnesota, and two from the Twin Cities Metro. Visit the committee online to learn more.

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