Knowledge Keeper, Non-profit & Tribal Government Leader
“For the first time, Pukúu will be led by not only a California Native woman, but one from the Fernandeño Tataviam Tribe that founded Pukúu,” said Board Chair Samantha Ortega. The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (Tribe) established the non-profit as the social services branch of the Tribe for the betterment of their tribal citizens and Native Americans living in their homelands. Today, Pukúu carries on that legacy with programs that continue to uplift and support the community, the community in which Villaseñor was raised.
Born and raised within her Tribe’s homelands, Villaseñor brings a wealth of cultural and Tribal Indigenous Knowledges. As a Knowledge Keeper, Villaseñor has been featured as a guest speaker and panelist at several events. She most recently served as the Executive Advisor for the Tribe, leading the incubation of new initiatives including the development of new departments and spearheading the need for systems change in tribal child welfare.
Working to improve systems that center community, she has worked collaboratively with Pukúu to expand and build programs. More than ten years ago, Villasenor worked for Pukúu in development and capacity building. Later, Villasenor helped establish the Tribe’s Education and Cultural Learning Department, which still serves cohorts of youth today and the Health and Social Wellness Department in 2018. In 2016, Pukúu acknowledged her work by naming Villaseñor a Night with the Stars Gala Honoree.
Villaseñor shared, “I am honored to work alongside dedicated board members and talented colleagues who honor my people, the First Peoples of Los Angeles, as well as the many Native Americans who call our homelands their home.” Pamela brings more than a decade worth of experience in working with Native American entities, including Tribal Government, Native non-profits, and a Native serving institution.
The new Executive Director joins Pukúu during a time of hopeful transition. The non-profit, in collaboration with the Tribe and the other entities founded by the Tribe, are rooting change in human-centered design strategic planning to guide future work. With deep thinking and community informed processes, Pukúu is poised to continue its leadership in weathering the pandemic and preparing for what lies ahead.
You can learn from Villaseñor directly by watching her talks on the Tribe’s website at www.tataviam-nsn.us/videos.