Membership to the Association of Governing Boards sponsored by the Soboba Foundation.

Board of Trustees

Joel Kinnamon, Ph.D., Chair

Dr. Joel Kinnamon began his tenure as the seventh Superintendent/President of College of the Desert on July 9, 2012 and retired as Superintendent/President, Emeritus on March 31, 2021. Under his leadership the college became one of the fastest growing colleges in the State of California and received local, State and National recognitions.

Dr. Joel Kinnamon served as Chancellor of Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, which operates Chabot College in Hayward and Las Positas College in Livermore. The two colleges together serve more than 25,000 students in the San Francisco East Bay Area.

Before becoming chancellor, Dr. Kinnamon served the district as the Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Planning for five years. Prior to his work in the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, Dr. Kinnamon spent several years with community colleges in Oklahoma serving as Provost (CEO) of the Southwest Campus for Tulsa Community College and at Oklahoma City Community College in various progressive roles including Professor of Business.   Prior to his employment in the community college system, Dr. Kinnamon spent nearly a decade in the business and finance sector.  He has received many awards and recognitions and belongs to several professional and community organizations. Dr. Kinnamon has been the chair for many Accrediting Commission For Community and Junior Colleges accreditation teams.

Dr. Kinnamon received his doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Nova Southeastern University, his master’s degree with honors in Business Administration from Oklahoma City University, and his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Economics from Oklahoma State University.

Sandra Kewanhaptewa-Dixon, (Hopi) Ed.D., Vice Chair

Dr. Sandy Kewanhaptewa-Dixon is Hopi and she received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University in 2006. She is currently chair of the Department of Ethnic & Women’s Studies at California Polytechnic University, Pomona in the College of Education and Integrative Studies. Before teaching in higher education, Sandy taught special education in Los Angeles Unified School District. She also worked at the Bureau of Indian Affairs for sixteen years and Sherman Indian High School in Riverside County. At Sherman, she served as the Special Education Coordinator and Curriculum & Instruction Coordinator and was a former Principal at Noli Indian High School in San Jacinto, California. She has served on many educational school boards and commissions. She is the mother of two children.

Dineen Mike, (Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians), Secretary

Dineen Mike is a Trustee Member and Secretary for the California Indian Nations College Board of Trustees.  Mike is a member of the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians.   Mike’s outlook on her life when she was young did not include higher education.  Through conversations with numerous people and seeing her loved ones completing their higher education, Mike realized the importance of higher education for others and for herself.  Getting through high school was difficult for her, but she later realized that it was difficult, because she made it difficult on herself.  Developing better study habits and a better work ethic has helped her focus on realigning the focus for life.  These adjustments has led her to participate in a more positive active role in education. Placing college possibilities in front of her was very intimidating at first, but jumping in with both of her feet was the best decision she has ever made.  Having this new outlook on life and the educational tools that she has learned has made her college journey fulfilling, and it has shown her that she is a self taught, self disciplined woman who is ready to accomplish her goals in life.

Theresa Mike, (Lummi), Treasurer, Lifetime Trustee

Theresa Mike (Si-Mi-Hlot) was born and raised in the Lummi Nation in Washington State. Growing up in humble way on the reservation, her parents always encouraged their children to do their best in school. This fed her personal motto of “never stop learning.” Ms. Mike worked through Whatcom Community College and later the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture (LISA) while raising a family, maintaining her culture, and serving in tribal government. In the 1980s, she helped lead the transition of the LISA to the Lummi Community College and helped see it through to accreditation and its transition to Northwest Indian College as it expanded to serve many tribes.

Ms. Mike helped in her tribe’s economic diversification through their gaming enterprises in the 1990s. She brought that knowledge to bear for the benefit of her husband and children’s tribe, the Twenty-Nine Palm Band of Mission Indians in Coachella, California. Together, Theresa and Dean Mike were instrumental in the founding of both Spotlight 29 and Tortoise Rock Casinos. They used the benefits that resulted for good causes including the Northwest Indian College Foundation, Theresa A. Mike Scholarship Foundation, and the Native American Land Conservancy, all of which she helped found. Ms. Mike wanted to further expand upon the good gaming brought to tribal communities as she knew the importance of healthcare and higher education. While she continues to work towards an Indian health clinic in the Coachella Valley, she founded California Indian Nations College, which the Twenty-Nine Palm Band of Mission Indians chartered in 2017. It is her hope that the fire that keeps her fighting for her communities will inspire others to help better the future for everyone.

Gerald Clarke, (Cahuilla Band of Indians) M.F.A., Vice Chair

Trustee Gerald Clarke Jr. was born in Hemet, California in 1967 to Carol and Gerald Clarke, Sr., his father being born Cahuilla. At the age of 3 his parents divorced and he moved with his siblings and mother to Orange County, and on the weekends he would return to the reservation to spend time with his father. At age 16, he moved to Arkansas with his mother and sister. He attended Ozarka College, where he majored in welding, electrical maintenance, and hydraulics; three necessary components to the artworks Clarke would create as a full time artist. 

After graduation from vocational school, Clarke worked as a welder, and eventually met Stacy Brown, whom he would eventually marry. Ready for change, Clarke was accepted to University of Central Arkansas where in 1991 he obtained a Bachelors of Arts in painting and sculpture. Clarke then went on to obtain his Masters of Arts in 1992 from Stephen F. Austin State University. After graduation he became an adjunct professor of art at Lon Morris College all the while working on his Masters thesis. With his thesis, which looked at the use of traditional American Indian themes and images in contemporary art, accepted Clarke received his Masters of Fine Arts from Stephen F. Austin in 1994.

With his Masters in hand, Clarke headed the art department at Northeast Texas Community College in 1996, eventually moving on to East Central University to serve as assistant professor of art in 1998. Gerald taught in the Visual Arts Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy from 2004-2012 and served as department chair from 2013-2015. In the fall of 2016, Gerald accepted the position as Assistant Professor in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside.

With the death of Gerald Clarke, Sr. in 2003, Clarke and his family returned to the Cahuilla Band of Indians reservation. When not creating his own work, Clarke runs a storage business with wife Stacy, assists in running the Clarke family cattle ranch, and remains heavily involved in Cahuilla culture. He is also is a frequent lecturer, speaking regionally/nationally about Native art, culture and issues. In 2008 and 2018, he was elected to the Cahuilla tribal government. When not working, Clarke participates in Bird Singing, a traditional form of singing that tells the cosmology of the Cahuilla people. 

Patricia A. Dixon, (Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians) M.A., Trustee

Trustee Patricia A. Dixon is a member of the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians.  She resides on the Pauma Indian reservation.

She graduated from the University of San Diego earning a B.A. in American History with minors in religious studies and sociology, and an M.A. in American history.  She has also done graduate work at St. Thomas Seminary, Denver, Colorado, graduate work in history at University of California, Riverside, graduate work in religious studies at the University of San Francisco, participated in the Pre-law school program for American Indians at the University of New Mexico, and took courses in the UCLA Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange Program.

Trustee Dixon has been a professor of American Indian Studies for 40 plus years at Palomar College. Patricia, as an adjunct also taught at Alliant University and for twenty years at San Diego State University, all the while, actively serving on numerous academic and community boards.  She has been integral to the development and sustainability of one of the oldest American Indian Studies programs, at a two-year college, in the country.   

For more than fourteen years she served on the Pauma Tribal Council, with four of those years as tribal chair. Served as Acting Tribal Administrator for Pauma Band of Mission Indians; for ten years she sat on the Sherman Indian High School Board, with six of those years as School Board President. Patricia acted as the main faculty advisor to the Indian students at Palomar College; organized and presented an in-service workshop to elementary school teachers of the San Jacinto school district on “Indian History, Values, and Philosophy”; was a member of the United Indian Women’s Club, which was a part of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs; assisted in the establishment of a counseling program for American Indian Marines confined at the Camp Pendleton Correctional Facility; Served on the Luiseno/Cupeno intertribal NAGPRA coalition; appointed by the Assembly Speaker for the State of California to the State’s Curriculum Commission for four years; was a reader for Indian Health Services scholarships in Rockville, Maryland 2009; served on the advisory board for the American Indian Diabetic Teleophthalmology Grant Program for two years 2002-2003; guest lecturer on three different occasions for the Department of Defense American Indian Cultural Course at Camp Pendleton and Oakland (2002-2008); was one of the original members of the Institutional Review Board for the Indian Health Consortium; functioned as a member of the California Indian Legal Services Board both as its vice-chair and chair.

Ultimately, Trustee Dixon credits her late mother, Lorena Majel Dixon for her philosophy, “to take joy in what you do, to serve humbly, but to fight courageously for those whose voices are not heard.”

Jeff Grubbe, (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians), Trustee

Jeff L. Grubbe is a former Tribal Chairman for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.  With his election in 2006 to the Tribal Council, Chairman Grubbe continues a legacy of service and follows in his grandfather Lawrence Pierce’s footsteps, who also once served on the Tribal Council. Grubbe was appointed as Chairman in 2012 and won election to the seat later that same year. Prior to his service on the Tribal Council, Grubbe worked as a data entry clerk in the Trust Enforcement Support Activities (TESA) department for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

His work for the Tribe has spanned many years.  In 1999, Mr. Grubbe entered the Agua Caliente Resort and Spa tribal intern program where he worked in the casino as a table games shift manager. His experience eventually led to his involvement in other Tribal service including the Agua Caliente Child Development Committee, the Agua Caliente Election Board, the Gaming Commission, and the Tribal Building Committee. Chairman Grubbe later joined the Agua Caliente Development Authority (ACDA) and has been involved with the authority since 2003. He continues to serve as the Tribal Council Liaison. He also serves on the Executive Board of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments.

Chairman Grubbe is also involved in various organizations across Indian Country including service to the following boards: Nike N7, Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, National Indian Gaming Association and the National Congress of American Indians. In addition, he serves on the Board of Trustees of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Chairman Grubbe was recognized with a 40 Under 40 Award from The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.  In addition, he was also recognized by Palm Springs Life Magazine with a 40 Under 40 Award for distinguished young professionals contributing to the success of the Coachella Valley. 

Grubbe earned his bachelor degree in Information Systems from the University of Redlands. He also has an associate arts degree from Haskell Indian Nations University.

Chairman Darrell Mike, (Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians), Trustee

Chairman Darrell Mike was born in Palm Springs, California and has been a long-time resident of the Coachella Valley.  He grew up attending desert valley schools during his youth and later attended Palm Desert High School.  At the age of eighteen, he became an adult voting member of the Tribal Council in 1990. After many years of service on the Tribal Council and recognition for his efforts in building a brighter future for the Tribe, Chairman Mike was elected to his first tenure as Tribal Chairman on January 1, 2007, serving consecutive terms.

As Tribal Chairman, Darrell Mike has assumed the duties of presiding over official tribal meetings, serving as the tribal spokesman, preserving tribal heritage, overseeing the day-to-day government operations and maintaining government-to-government relationships.  He has developed various relationships with outside government officials from the Coachella Valley to Washington, D.C.  He also participates in outreach efforts with the local community and organizes charitable events through affiliated entities such as the Four Winds Coalition, Native American Land Conservancy and Theresa A. Mike Scholarship Foundation.

Recent successes of Chairman Mike have been revamping the tribal government structure, implementing new ordinances (tribal laws), updating government policies, incorporating efficiency measures within the government, expanding the tribal enterprise, including the Spotlight 29 Casino and Tortoise Rock Casino.  Chairman Mike envisions the Tribe focusing on higher education, maintaining a healthy business plan, diversification and tribal self-sufficiency.

Robert Paull, (Lummi), Trustee

Robert Paull is an enrolled tribal member of the Lummi Nation from the Pacific Northwest of Washington State and is a Persian Gulf War combat veteran. He received his BS in Business from California State University, Channel Islands and has worked and volunteered for tribal non-profit organizations for over five years. Robert is a founding member of CINC and has a keen understanding of the challenges many Native American students face as they seek acceptance among their peers reaching for their educational dreams. Through his own challenges, Robert appreciates the mission of CINC and is dedicated to seeing it succeed and thrive for generations to come in the Native Community. As president of the CINC Foundation, Robert provides resource support to California Indian Nation College  ranging from monetary donations to community partnerships that advance both the College and its students.

Heather Torres, (San Ildefonso Pueblo, Navajo) J.D., Trustee

Heather Torres (San Ildefonso Pueblo, Navajo) [she/her/hers] is a graduate of UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies program, where she focused her courses and research on Federal Indian law and the racialization of American Indian identity. Currently, she is the Program Director for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. From 2018-2019, Heather served as Director of  Native Student Programs (NSP) at the University of Redlands.  Heather was the founding staff of NSP when the program was created in 2011, serving as Creating a Passion for Learning Coordinator. Heather’s work in education started during her undergraduate years at UCLA where she was a student leader in the American Indian Student Association overseeing the American Indian Recruitment and Retention of American Indians Now! projects. Her passion for education continues today through her work on the board of the American Indian Scholarship Fund of Southern California and active membership in the American Indian Alumni at UCLA. Heather earned her BAs in English and American Indian Studies in 2011, her MA in Collaborative Educational Leadership in 2014, and her J.D. in 2017. She is licensed to practice law in the State of California.

Chairman Thomas Tortez, Jr., (Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians), Trustee

Thomas is the current Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Tribal Council Chairman. Thomas serves as principal advisor to the Tribal Council on all matters pertaining to the Torres Martinez. Chairman Thomas previously served on the Tribal Council as Treasurer for 4 years. Thomas has also worked under the Torres Martinez Regulatory Gaming Commission for 5 years and Tribal Administrator for the Mountain Cahuilla for 4 years.

After graduation from Coleman University, Thomas enlisted in the United States Navy and received an Honorable Discharge in 1993. Thomas served as an Avionics Technician for the F-14 Tomcat Fighter Aircraft, under Navy Squadron VF-302. Following his military service, Thomas joined the Civil Service on North Island Naval Air Base, San Diego to train personnel for the S3A Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft via Flight Simulator maneuvers. Utilizing skills developed in the military, he served as a Wildland Firefighter for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for several years.

Thomas serves on several Boards, such as the Salton Sea Authority, California Tribal Business Alliance and Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association. Accomplishments include; with Salton Sea Authority, California Natural Resource Agency and California State Legislators, countless visits to the State Capitol, to have Governor Jerry Brown sign into the State Budget, $80.5 million for restoration of the Salton Sea in June of 2016. More importantly, since 2017, the advocation and follow through of California Assembly Bill 738 for Native American Model Curriculum.

Thomas continues to plan for the future of Torres Martinez to advance and expand opportunities for economic development; to provide quality educational experiences with improved retention rates of Native youth in high school, college and vocational education; to promote healthy lifestyles for the community; and to continue to invest in Government to Government consultation to secure sovereignty and comprehensive, culture based education.

Trustee Terms of Appointment

2023-24 Board Meetings

  • Thursday, July 27, 2023 – Quarter 4 Meeting / End of Academic Year 2022-2023

  • Thursday, August 24, 2023 – Monthly Meeting

  • Thursday, September 28, 2023 – Monthly Meeting

  • Thursday, October 26, 2023 – Quarter 1 Meeting

  • Thursday, November 30, 2023 – (November 23, 2023, is an observed Holiday)

  • Thursday, January 25, 2024 – Quarter 2 Meeting

  • Thursday, February 22, 2024 – Monthly Meeting

  • Thursday, March 28, 2024 – Monthly Meeting

  • Thursday, April 25, 2024 – Quarter 3/ Annual Meeting

  • Thursday, May 23, 2024 – Monthly Meeting

  • Thursday, June 27, 2024 – Monthly Meeting

  • Thursday, July 25, 2024 – Quarter 4 Meeting / End of Academic Year 2023-2024