Academics & Student Affairs Staff

Shawn Ragan, MA (Ph.D. candidate)
Shawn Ragan, MA (Ph.D. candidate)Vice President, Chief Operations Officer


Shawn Ragan began working with California Indian Nations College as an academic consultant in July 2019 before taking on his current role. Drawing on over two decades of non-profit and higher education experience, VP Ragan oversees Academics, Accreditation, Admissions, Enrollment Management, Institutional Effectiveness, IT, and Student Affairs. VP Ragan works with faculty, students, and administration to build academic and student programs that address the specific needs of tribal students and ensures successful transfer to four-year institutions. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of the West in Rosemead, CA and the President of the Riverside and Inland Empire local society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

VP Ragan has a B.A. in History from Boise State University, an M.A. in History from the University of California, Riverside, and is currently completing the final chapters of his Ph.D. dissertation, “Inter Divos Referri : Roman Imperial Cult in the Third Century C.E.,” which examines the intersection of politics and religion in periods of crisis.

Outside of the academy, he enjoys spending time with his family and three dogs, enjoys early and mid-century Americana, and is an avid Nebraska Cornhuskers football and Sevens Rugby fan.

Melissa Hernandez, MA
Melissa Hernandez, MADean of Student Affairs


My name is Melissa Duenas Hernandez and I am a Coachella Valley native. After earning my Masters in Counseling and my Pupil Personnel Services Credential in K-12 School Counseling, from Chapman University, I entered the Counseling industry to explore my passion for serving students by helping them understand their post-high school educational options as well as providing mental health support to increase a student’s well-being.

I’ve spent the last 15 years learning everything there is to know about student counseling, higher education programming, and post-secondary education to promote a college-going culture, primarily working with under-served students entering high school, community colleges, and/or universities. I have worked with community colleges for over 6 years, as a Program Coordinator/Counselor for CalWORKs and Foster Youth programming. As an adjunct instructor, I have taught Career & Personal Success courses at the college level, with the goal of helping students match their hobbies and natural talents with majors/careers.

Having a background as an academic tutor, mentor, counselor, adjunct instructor and program coordinator, has allowed me to focus on supporting youth and adult students from diverse populations, identify their educational goals, dream big and in the end replace me. My dream is to carry out CINC’s mission and within that purpose, have students run our country and come back to work for CINC.

Marli Palmer
Marli PalmerAdministrative Assistant to the Vice President


Marli Bacca is a local of the Coachella Valley and the Administrative Assistant to Vice President Shawn Ragan. With over 10 years of experience in professional office environments, and a track record of strong performance in high-volume, high-pressure situations, Marli skillfully manages administrative duties and student/staff relations for Vice President Ragan.

As Administrative Assistant to Vice President Ragan, she ensures the smooth operation of the day-to-day schedule and efficient handling of student/staff inquiries, meetings, and timely responses to all inquiries as required.
In her spare time Marli enjoys baking and cooking with her fiancé, and as a true animal lover, spending time with her three dogs and her cat.

Tony Aguilar
Tony AguilarCurriculum & Catalog Specialist


Randy Avila (Klamath-Modoc Tribes)
Randy Avila (Klamath-Modoc Tribes)Admissions Specialist


Randy (Howling Wolf) Avila is an enrolled member of The Klamath-Modoc Tribe. He is currently a student of California Indian Nations College. He has spent most of his life in the Coachella Valley and is very involved with the local tribes. Randy is an advocate for his community and participates in volunteer work. He believes that finding an outlet in sports can help Native youth become more involved and engaged in their community. He acts as an advocate, coach, and athletic coordinator in youth sports. He encourages Native youth to play sports and become involved in after-school programs because they are an easy way to be a part of the community, learn responsibilities, and learn time management. Randy’s goals are to lead Native youth in bringing out the best that they can be through their heritage, a positive attitude, and an enlightened mind. Randy has passed down his values to his children, the most important of which is: Elders pave the way to cultural awareness.

Linda Cotton, MS PPS
Linda Cotton, MS PPSStudent Success Coordinator


Linda Cotton spent her childhood years in Oklahoma before moving to Redlands, California in her early teens. She has over 20 years of experience in Native Education. She originally worked with Kumeyaay students in the San Diego area before moving back to the San Bernadino/Riverside area where she worked for 19 years as an Instructional Liaison and Alternative Education Manager for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Linda holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services and a Master of Science degree both from the University of Phoenix. She also holds a Pupil Personnel Services credential from the University of Redlands. Linda has also been involved with the Intertribal Education Collaborative for the past 7 years. Linda brings a wealth of knowledge from every level of education as well as counseling and research skills. She is an advocate for education. Her passion is assisting students to overcome their obstacles in order to reach their goals.

Linda is the mother of 5 children, 3 daughters and 2 sons. She lives in Loma Linda with her husband, 2 sons, 5 cats and 2 dogs. She is an avid reader and loves to read books in her free time. Linda loves to be out in nature. She enjoys hiking and going to the beach. Linda is also a history lover and enjoys learning about the history and culture of different areas. She loves traveling and visiting museums. Linda loves learning and believes that there is always more to learn. One can never have too much knowledge.

Courtney Hampton, MBA
Courtney Hampton, MBADirector of Admissions, Director of Adult Education


Courtney Hampton, a Palm Springs native, is California Indian Nations College Director of Adult Education and Communications Specialist. She holds a B.A. degree in Communication Studies and a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management. In addition to teaching all Business courses, Courtney comes with over 10 years’ experience in college and university settings. She brings a wide range of knowledge and skill sets both in operational management as well as student support specialist, advisor, coach and mentor in communicating with a diverse population of students. She is dedicated and committed to carrying out the overall college mission and helping each and every student accomplish their educational and career goals.

Kim Marcus (Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians)
Kim Marcus (Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians)Elder in Residence

Kim Marcus is an enrolled Tribal Elder with the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians and his grandfather was an enrolled member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. He is married with three children and four grandchildren. He is a retired California Credentialed Native Language Teacher and counselor. Mr. Marcus is a traditional singer/dancer, and culture bearer of the Serrano and Cahuilla rituals, customs, and traditions.

Faith Morreo (Cahuilla)
Faith Morreo (Cahuilla)Student Engagement Specialist


Faith Morreo is a proud member of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tribe of Southern California. Serving her Tribe, non-profit organizations, tribal programs, and private sector in various capacities for the past 25+ years she is honored to serve as the Recruitment and Outreach Specialist. Faith is a graduate of College of the Desert with two Associates of Arts Degree programs in Business Administration and Liberal Arts with emphasis in Arts, Humanities and Communication. She is primarily responsible for recruitment and outreach. This includes creating partnerships to continue the success of CINC in providing unique opportunities in education. Faith is also a cultural preservationist, teaching Desert Cahuilla language within the local tribal communities. Please reach out to her if you have any questions about enrollment and outreach event.

Rebecca Pesko, EdD
Rebecca Pesko, EdDInstitutional Researcher & Assessment Specialist

Rebecca Pesko has worked in higher education for over ten years, with the last five years in Institutional Effectiveness. Originally from Northern California, she has successfully supported community college assessment and accreditation efforts in North Carolina. Rebecca holds a Doctorate in Education, Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University, and a Masters in Business Administration, Finance, from CSU Sacramento. She is looking forward to serving in the capacity of institutional research and assessment to support CINC in its efforts toward accreditation. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys spending time on the water with her husband and two sons.

Jordan Solis (Lummi Nation)
Jordan Solis (Lummi Nation)Administrative Associate

My name is Jordan Solis and I am from the Lummi Nation, located in Bellingham Washington. I currently have my AA in Sociology. I hope to transfer to California State University of San Bernardino in the Spring of 2024. I have a 2-year-old son, a 2-year-old puppy, and my husband of whom I’ve been married to for 5 years come December. If there is anything to know about me, it is that I am very big on family, and I am happy to be a part of the one here at CINC!

Ronson Souza (Native Hawaiian), MBA
Ronson Souza (Native Hawaiian), MBAAcademic Advisor


Ronson Souza was born and raised in the small towns of Kailua and Hilo, Hawai’i. He relocated to the Coachella Valley in 2014 in search of adventure and affordable education. As a first-generation college student, he relied heavily on academic advisors to understand graduation requirements. Thanks to the assistance of passionate educators, he graduated from College of the Desert with an Associate of Arts Degree in Sociology. He then transferred to California State University, Los Angeles, where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work and a certificate from the Honors College. He is currently completing his advanced standing masters degree in social work at Columbia University. Thanks to his education, Ronson has gained experience working in Tribal government and providing crisis intervention to at-risk populations. Ronson is dedicated to assisting students in navigating the hidden curriculum of higher education.

When he is not at work, Ronson can be found in Irvine eating Korean BBQ, watching movies, scouring public libraries for new books to read, or curled up on the couch with his 13-year-old German Shepherd.

Domino Perez (Agua Caliente & Anza)
Domino Perez (Agua Caliente & Anza)Outreach Associate


Hello, my name is Domino Perez, and I am a first-generation college student in my family. I am from two bands of Cahuilla, Agua Caliente in Palm Springs and Anza. My goal at the California Indian Nations College is to get my AA in Political Science and then transfer to The University of Redlands for my upper grad. My main goal is to become a lawyer but not just any lawyer, a Tribal Lawyer. I would also like to help grow Indian Country by participating in politics. I have a family of my own, me and my wife, no kids, might be a guinea pig soon. We live out in Banning and got married on September 5th, 2023. My wife also attends the California Indian Nations College. I have a lot of hope for the future of Indian country and what the California Indian Nations College will do for Native people. I’m happy to be part of this monumental change in history. We’re making big changes, and anyone can be a part of it, so don’t hesitate to call with questions or just apply and wait for the phone call from your academic advisors.