The staff members listed below work for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Brown. Find them at the NAISI offices at 67 George St. (2nd floor) during the academic year.  See the "Staff Across Campus" list below for additional staff from offices and departments across Brown’s campus who work closely with NAISI.

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Chase Bryer​ (Chickasaw Nation)

  • Program Coordinator, NAISI
  • Chase Bryer (Chickasaw) is a current PhD student in Behavioral and Social Health Science at the Brown University School of Public Health. He joined NAISI in 2022, and serves as a liaison between NAISI faculty and students, while contributing to various initiatives focused on building a stronger intellectual environment for undergraduate and graduate Native American and Indigenous and NAIS students at Brown. Through his research, he uses community-based participatory methods to create interventions that will improve health outcomes, with a particular focus among Indigenous queer and Two-Spirit communities. His research, ultimately, aims to inform state actors including social workers, public health professionals, and biomedical researchers with ways to more sensitively engage with marginalized communities through resilience-based approaches to disrupt cycles of historical trauma. Chase holds an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and a BA in Human Rights and Media from the University of Oklahoma.
  • [email protected]
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Rae Gould, PhD (Nipmuc)

  • Executive Director, NAISI
  • Phone: (401) 863-5972
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, American Studies; Affiliated Faculty, Anthropology; Faculty Associate, Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice
  • Dr. Gould joined NAISI in 2019 as Associate Director. Her primary responsibilities include oversight of the developing undergraduate concentration in Native American and Indigenous Studies, programming to support and supplement academic developments, working closely with units across the University engaged in tribal projects, and tribal outreach. She collaborates with centers, departments and offices across the campus, and at other institutions, on academic programming and engagement, in addition to contributing to increased engagement with and support for undergraduate and graduate students. Her research and publishing focus on Southern New England Native American history and culture in the 400 years since European contact, with additional expertise in Indigenous cultural landscapes, federal acknowledgement, NAGPRA and Section 106. 
  • Office Hours at 67 George St. by appt.
  • [email protected]

Sophia Evangeline Gumbs

  • Program and Administrative Coordinator, NAISI
  • Sophia joined Brown University and NAISI in November of 2022. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree (summa cum laude) from the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, where her general areas of study were Africana Studies and Gender Studies. Her interests lie broadly at the intersections of maternal health, Black Feminist praxis, reproductive and birth justice, lactation and food sovereignty, and community-based birth work by and for Black and Indigenous women and birthing people. She is also a community-based doula. Sophia has previously worked in a number of administrative support roles, most recently with the NYU Center for the Study of Africa and the African Diaspora. In her role at NAISI, she is the point of contact for events planning and coordination, communications and outreach, and administrative needs and works closely with related units across campus.
  • [email protected]
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    endawnis Spears​ (Diné/ Ojibwe/ Chickasaw/ Choctaw)

    • 2022-23 Tribal Community Member in Residence, NAISI
    • endawnis Spears (Diné/ Ojibwe/ Chickasaw/ Choctaw) is impassioned about the diverse and complex intersections of Native American narratives and systems and places of knowledge.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Denver and has worked for the Heard Museum, Museum of Northern Arizona, Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, was a Peabody Essex Museum Native American Arts and Culture Fellow, and currently serves on the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.  endawnis is the Co-Director of the Upstander Academy, and a founding member of the Akomawt Educational Initiative, an Indigenous education and interpretive consultancy for museums, K-12 schools, and colleges/universities.   Originally from Camp Verde, Arizona, she lives in Hope Valley, RI with her husband, Cassius Spears Jr. and their four children, Nizhoni, Sowaniu, Giizhig, and Tishominko. 
    • Click here to read NAISI's press release about endawnis's role on campus
    • [email protected]

      Other Staff Across Campus

      The staff members listed below help support Native American and Indigenous students and programming from different offices and departments across Brown’s campus. (For a list of staff members who work for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative directly, see the NAISI Staff list above.)


      Tiffiney George (Navajo Nation | Diné Asdzáán)

      • Associate Director of Admission, Office of College Admission
      • Tiffiney's work focuses on Native/Indigenous outreach and strengthening partnerships with non-profit college access organizations. Tiffiney graduated from Brown in 2007, and has been a staff member at Brown since 2011 and a Natives at Brown Alumni (NABA) Executive Committee member since 2015.

      Leah Hopkins (Narragansett)

      • Manager of Museum Education and Programs, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
      • Leah is responsible for overseeing K-12 outreach programming, academic support, faculty fellows, and public programs. Leah holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Rhode Island and has a background in museum and tribal education that spans over 10 years, working at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and with other regional institutions, organizations and tribal communities. She continues to extensively work within the New England region to promote the visibility, histories, cultural complexities, and cultural continuity of the area’s Indigenous peoples and to ensure that Indigenous voices are included and uplifted in curricula.


      Christina Smith (Diné (Navajo))

      • Associate Director for Undergraduate STEM Development
      • Dr. Smith supports all students who are in a teaching capacity on campus (e.g. UTAs, mentors, etc.) and facilitates the Problem Solving Fellows, Catalyst, and New Scientist Collective programs. Dr. Smith's PhD is in chemical engineering so she can relate to students who are navigating STEM paths and can discuss how to be an effective learner and/or teacher at Brown.

      Kimberly Toney (Nipmuc)

      • Inaugural Coordinating Curator for Native American and Indigenous Collections, John Carter Brown and Hay Libraries
      • In this role, Kim supports the libraries in their focus on Native American and Indigenous collections of signal importance as well as programming, including outreach and engagement with Native American and Indigenous communities.