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John Phillips, PhD serves as a co-PI on the Native FEWS Alliance of which AIHEC is the backbone. Dr. Phillips is Interim President & CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Through AIHEC, the nation’s 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) work toward Strong Sovereign Nations Through Excellence in TRIBAL Higher Education. 

Dr. Phillips brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), he has been with AIHEC since 2000 and previously served as the Director of AIHEC Land-Grant programs and policy.  Phillips is also the Executive Director of First Americans Land-Grant Consortium (FALCON), a non-profit association of TCU “1994” Land-Grant administrators, directors, faculty, and staff. 

From 2000-2005, Phillips was the first 1994 Land-Grant Institutions (TCUs) liaison with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  He was responsible for representing the interests of the 1994 Land-Grant Institutions throughout USDA and the public.  Phillips also provided executive resources to the USDA/AIHEC Leadership Group, a national advisory board comprised of top USDA and AIHEC officials.

Phillips directed the Cooperative Extension Program at Si Tanka College on the Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota, from 1997 to 1999, for which he was awarded a USDA Secretary’s Honors Award and a USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) Administrator’s Recognition.  During that time, he developed community outreach programs in nutrition, community gardening, and youth development.  He has also conducted USDA-sponsored research on diet and nutrition.  In 2017, Phillips was inducted into the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Hall of Fame.

Phillips earned his Ph.D. in Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, a M.S. degree in Environmental Systems from Humboldt State University, California, and a B.S. degree in Computer Science from California State University, Sacramento.  He has worked as a systems engineer for IBM Corporation and has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in southern Africa.


Kathy Isaacson, PhD serves as the Director of the Backbone for the Native FEWS Alliance representing the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Kathy ensures that the Alliance continues to have a central hub for communication and planning, continuous interaction with NSF INCLUDES, and web-based dissemination of wise practices from the Alliance partners. She has over 20 years experience working with tribal colleges and universities in strategic planning and project management. Kathy has served on the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, was chair of the board for the Institute for Higher Education Policy, faculty member at the University of New Mexico, and president of Strategic Engagement, a consulting business. Her research and writing interests include a focus on sustainable system change and innovative methods for multi-stakeholder engagement. Kathy is the author of Communication, Conflict, and the Management of Difference; Facework: Bridging Theory and Practice; Engaging Communication in Conflict: Systemic Practice; and Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Resolution. She received her MA from the University of New Mexico, and her PhD from Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

Jana Hanson is AIHEC’s IR and Assessment Director for Student Success.