Danielle Hiraldo, Ph.D., M.P.A., Director

Danielle Hiraldo (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), Director, American Indian Center, hiraldo@unc.edu. Dr. Hiraldo received her Ph.D. in American Indian Studies with a minor in public administration at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. She holds a M.P.A. and a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Before joining the American Indian Center, Dr. Hiraldo served as a researcher for the Native Nations Institute (NNI) situated in the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona where she remains an affiliate researcher. During her time at NNI, she collaborated with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to host We Still Remain: A Conference Toward the Promotion of Southeast Indigenous Research, Scholarship, and Collaboration funded by NSF (BCS-2037256) to promote research collaborations and partnerships with Southeast Indigenous communities. Dr. Hiraldo co-founded the Southeast Indigenous Research Network for tribal community members and researchers interested in advancing Southeast Indigenous scholarship.

Her research explores governance under state recognition, tribal-state relationships (specifically in the Southeast), federal Indian law/policy, and Native Nation governance structures and practices. Dr. Hiraldo has taught Introduction to American Indian Studies, Introduction to Public Administration, Indigenous Governance, and American National Government for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke; and Indigenous Organizations for the University of Arizona.

 

Jillian Ransom McNeill, Administrative Support Associate

Jillian1

Jillian Ransom McNeill is from Fayetteville, NC and a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. Her work at UNC includes a wide variety of responsibilities revolving around program coordination, event organization, and involvement in AIC initiatives. She reconciles receipts, create invoices and submits all supporting documentation to the accounting department, as well as assists with financial transactions for daily accounting and deposits. She is the Program Coordinator for Elder in Residence and the annual Michael D. Green Lecture in American Indian Studies. Jillian also organizes the center’s Welcome Extravaganza every Fall, oversees the AIC’s Ambassadors Program, and serves as the Fundraising Advisor for the Carolina Indian Center. Outside of the Center (but within the broader UNC community), she is a Wellness Champion Program Committee Member for UBC Academic Initiatives. She is a certified Mental Health First Aider, HAVEN certified, Safe Zone certified, and is committed to creating a welcoming atmosphere at the center.

As an adult, Jillian has lived in four states; now making her way back home. Her background is in education, specifically working with exceptional children. Prior to working for the American Indian Center, Jillian worked as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist with the autism population in Charlotte, NC. She has also worked in sales, marketing, and advertising.

Her interests include traveling, shopping, trying new restaurants, visiting her nieces and nephews, and spending time with her family and friends. The beach is her happy place and Fall is her favorite time of the year as the leaves change color. She is happily married to her husband Dewey McNeill who serves on the Lumbee Tribal Council. Jillian loves animals and is the mom to a sweet Pekingese; whom she rescued and adopted. She is passionate about educating our youth, giving back to her community, and enriching the lives of others.

Office: 919.843.4189; Email: jransom@unc.edu

 

Qua Lynch Adkins, Native Student Engagement Coordinator

quaQua Lynch Adkins, MPH, is the Native Student Engagement Coordinator at the UNC American Indian Center, where she plans and implements programs (i.e. Carolina Horizons, New Native Student Orientation, the Native Pathways to Professional Development Series, etc.), cultivates partnerships, and coordinates events that foster professional development of American Indian high school and undergraduate students.

Qua is a citizen of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe and has strong connections to each of the Tribal Nations in North Carolina and many beyond the state, due to her lifelong community service. Previously, she worked with the NC Commission of Indian Affairs, the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, and the NC American Indian Health Board. Qua earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Campbell University in 2012 and later received her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Community Health Education from UNC-Greensboro in 2015. She continues to work with universities, museums, and students to promote diversity in creative, meaningful ways.

Qua is a proud member of the Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, Inc. Her hobbies include making traditional arts & crafts, dancing at powwows, cooking, and spending quality time with her friends and family. Qua is committed to empowering Indian Country and providing a VOICE to the seemingly VOICELESS population.

Office: 919.843.5928; Email: qual@email.unc.edu

 

Jesalyn Keziah, MSW, Community Engagement Program Officer

Jesalyn Keziah, MSW, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, currently serves as the Community Engagement Program Officer at the UNC American Indian Center, supporting community engagement among UNC community and all statewide Tribal Nations and Native-led community programs, leveraging resources to support program development, and bridging UNC resources with Tribally self-determined initiatives. She also coordinates the Healthy Native North Carolinians Network and the new initiative to develop an American Indian Cultural Garden, along with other community-oriented programming.

Jesalyn is a double graduate of Carolina, graduating with a BA in 2007 as a first-generation college student, then returning after a decade of work experience to graduate in 2020 with her Master’s in Social Work. She is passionate about helping students access and navigate higher education, and serves as Resilience Coach on campus, hosted by UNC Diversity and Inclusion, Carolina Collaborative for Resilience.

Before coming to AIC, Jesalyn spent the first decade of her career serving in various statewide community food justice positions including time at Resourceful Communities, The Conservation Fund, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and a statewide range of community gardens and local food systems development projects. Jesalyn is a community-oriented gardener, artist, potter, justice advocate, and aspiring therapist interested in Indigenous mental health; she is building her approach interested in the intersections of culture, arts, food sovereignty, nature, and holistic community-based approaches to healing from historical and intergenerational trauma. She recently began caretaking a 100-year-old farm and is happiest in the sun gathering wild native foods or out kayaking on the river.

Office: 919.445.4711;  Email: jesalynk@email.unc.edu