General Updates | February 7, 2024

New and Outgoing Native Board Members from Montana Are Dynamic


At our February board meeting, we’re celebrating two Montanans with deep ties to Native communities: Amy Sings In The Timber and Maria Valandra.

We’re excited about the extensive background of incoming board member Amy Sings In The Timber (Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) in nonprofit leadership and social justice and human rights issues. Currently she is the executive director for the Montana Innocence Project, a legal aid organization dedicated to freeing innocent and unjustly incarcerated people and advocating for accurate, accountable, and fair systems of justice.

In addition to promoting an equitable and accessible justice system, Amy advocates for trauma-informed continuums of care, sustainable stable-housing models, and economic and educational advancement opportunities for marginalized and disenfranchised peoples.

“Amy’s career-long focus . . . aligns with the Foundation’s mission. I look forward to seeing how her insights will inform our work.”

Kevin Walker
President and CEO, Northwest Area Foundation
“Amy’s career-long focus on advancing social and racial justice in the legal system, along with her advocacy for change led by and for Native communities, aligns with the Foundation’s mission,” says President and CEO Kevin Walker. “I look forward to seeing how her insights will inform our work.”
We celebrate outgoing board member Maria Valandra.

Outgoing board member Maria Valandra (Cree), and vice president of community partnerships for Clearwater Credit Union, terms off the board after a distinguished nine-year term. Maria brought her full self to the board. As an Indigenous woman, she’s proud of her culture and brings an Indigenous perspective to her work as an experienced banking and community development professional with a career spanning more than 25 years.

In addition to her service on the Foundation’s board, Maria shares her talents with numerous other boards, including as a current board member of Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation and NACDC Financial Services.

“Maria brought a broad and important skillset to the board, which included banking experience in our region. She served with dedication and grace.”

Duane Carter
Board Chair, Northwest Area Foundation

“Maria has been a tremendous asset to our board,” says Kevin Walker. “She’s been great about asking hard questions that probe the underlying truths of our work. Her input and leadership during these past nine years have been invaluable as we’ve refocused our mission on justice and on how and who we fund. We’ll miss her spirit and perspective.”

Board Chair Duane Carter agrees, adding, “Maria brought a broad and important skillset to the board, which included banking experience in our region. She served with dedication and grace. While she may no longer be in a formal board role, she’ll no doubt continue to inform the Foundation in the years to come.”

For further inquiries about our board.

For members of the media and others interested in learning more about our new board member, please contact Communications Director Paul Bachleitner: pbachleitner@nwaf.org or (651) 225-7704.

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