Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M. (Chickasaw)

Founder, Senior Advisor

Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M. (Chickasaw) is Founding Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Prior to launching the Initiative, she served in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor for Tribal Relations to Secretary Tom Vilsack, and prior to her appointment within the Office of the Secretary she served in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, as the National Program Leader for Farm Financial Management, Risk Management Education, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. She also served at USDA Risk Management Agency as the Risk Management Education Director. Prior to her work in Washington, DC, at the national level, she has had a long career in the field of agriculture and food law.

She has been a licensed attorney in Oklahoma for more than 30 years and specializes in food and agriculture law and Indian law.


Colby Duren, J.D.


Colby is the Policy Director and Staff Attorney for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Based in Washington, DC, Colby has nearly 10 years of experience in federal Indian law and policy, with a specific focus on food, agriculture, and natural resources issues.

Prior to joining the Initiative, Colby served as a Staff Attorney and Legislative Counsel for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in Washington, DC, advocating on behalf of Tribal Nations on land, natural resources, and agriculture issues, including the 2014 Farm Bill. Previously, he was a Legal Assistant for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Washington, DC office, and a Paralegal and Legislative Assistant at a Washington, DC law firm specializing in food and agriculture, and represented Tribes on land reparation and agriculture issues.

Colby earned his law degree from the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC, and his Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. He is licensed to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2016, Colby was nominated by the Native American Bar Association of Washington, DC for its Significant Contribution in Indian Law Award for his work on environmental issues in Indian Country.


Blake Jackson, J.D.

Policy Officer and Staff Attorney


Blake is the Policy Officer and a Staff Attorney for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas, possessing nearly four years of combined experience in federal Indian law and analyzing agricultural policy issues.    

Prior to joining the Initiative, Blake was as a Staff Attorney for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, where he is an enrolled member.  He previously served as a Staff Attorney at the Chickasaw Nation Legal Division and clerked for Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker in their Oklahoma City office.  His non-legal experience includes working as a Staff Assistant at the House Committee on Agriculture and as a Legislative Assistant for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. 

Blake obtained his Juris Doctor from University of Oklahoma College of Law, where he was a finalist in the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition, served on the American Indian Law Review, and obtained his Certificate in American Indian Law.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness from Oklahoma State University, where he co-authored two publications as a Legal Research Assistant for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and was institution’s first student to be named a Morris & Stewart Udall Scholar and Harry S. Truman Scholar in the same academic year.   He is currently pursuing his LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas and is licensed to practice in Oklahoma.


Josiah Griffin

Program Specialist

Josiah Griffin most recently served in the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Tribal Relations as outreach and communication coordinator, advising USDA leadership on tribal implications of proposed regulatory policies and expanding outreach to Indian Country on available federal resources.

A native Hawaiian, Griffin graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural leadership and development, focusing on communications, and is certified in mediation from Blinn College.


Sandy Martini

Administration and Programs Director/Staff Economist & Food Safety Coordinator
(479) 575-4434

Sandy is the Director of Administration, a staff economist, and the food safety coordinator for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. Her primary responsibilities are grant management, food safety training coordination, data collection and analysis, team building, and development of business planning, record keeping and risk management materials for producers.

She brings with her 10 years of experience facilitating training and workshops for produce growers and beef producers on business planning and management, seven years managing the grant program at Extension Risk Management Education Center, and 11 years managing research projects focused on poultry economics, poultry compost, Farm Service Agency direct loan programs, and food safety recalls.

Sandy earned a master of science in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas in 2002.


Erin Parker, J.D., LL.M.

Research Director and Staff Attorney
(479) 575-6572

Erin currently serves as the Research Director of the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law, where she supports the Initiative through program development, research and writing, and analysis of legislative and regulatory issues affecting Tribal governments, businesses, and individual producers. The bulk of her professional work centers on the tension between the tectonic plates of food & agricultural law and federal Indian law, and as part of this work, she will be part of a team of Initiative attorneys developing a Tribal Model Food & Agriculture Code. Most recently, she authored the 2015 Intertribal Food Systems Report, which lifts up nearly one-hundred different innovative food systems programs doing work across Indian Country. This work was generously supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the report should be released in early spring 2016.

Before beginning her work with the Initiative, she worked as a Staff Attorney and Research Coordinator for the Cobell Commission, a national working group convened by the Secretary of the Interior to repair the federal government’s Indian land trust management system. She is a proud Law Hog and holds both her J.D. and her LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law from the University of Arkansas, and her final thesis for the LL.M. program was a practical legal guide to conducting food recovery in the state of Arkansas. She continues to advance her work in the area of food conservation law and policy by volunteering her time and experience to the law school’s Food Recovery Project. 

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Toni Stanger-Mclaughlin, J.D. (Colville)

Director of Tribal Governance

Toni is the owner of a consulting firm and the founder of After graduating law school she began working for the United States Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in Washington DC. During her time in Civil Rights, she led the office in reviewing thousands of outstanding claims as well as the settlement of the Keepseagle Opt-Outs, resulting in the protection of over 380,000 acres of tribal land from foreclosure.

Toni moved from Civil Rights to the USDA Office of the Secretary where she represented the Department in working with the United States Forest Service on improving sacred sites policies. She now works with tribes in lending, business and infrastructure development, code writing and agricultural development.


Alekya Prathivadi

Alekya graduated with honors from Loyola University Chicago in 2017 with a degree in biology. During her time at Loyola, she developed her passion for food justice by regularly volunteering at the local soup kitchen and interning at Purple Asparagus, a non-profit nutrition education organization. After graduation, she served as a FoodCorps Service Member in Columbia Falls, Montana where she collaborated with various stakeholders to implement and strengthen a hands-on nutrition and garden education program in two schools. She also served on the board of Farm Hands Nourish the Flathead, supporting community programs and events connecting all people in the Flathead Valley region to fresh, local food. 


Shelli Grogg

Shelli received her Bachelors from James Madison University before going on to obtain her Masters of Public Administration from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there she also received a certificate in Health Disparities, focusing her assignments on food systems and hunger. Outside of her school work Shelli has worked in nonprofits at the national and local level, from funding organizations like United Way to regional school backpack programs. Her work at the local level drove her interest to gain more of a national perspective as a member of the 25th class of Emerson Hunger Fellows.


Mackenize Martinez

Research Assistant

Mackenize Martinez is a native of Northwest Louisiana and of Choctaw and Apache descent. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Agricultural Sciences with a concentration in Animal Science from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with plans to graduate in Spring 2020. Martinez has experience with various Native youth programs specified towards agriculture, including the Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summits and completed an internship with the Intertribal Agriculture Council, where she performed research that was used by the Native Farm Bill Coalition. At McNeese State University, Martinez works with her collegiate chapter of the non-profit organization Ducks Unlimited to promote natural resource conservation efforts for the improvement of waterfowl habitat and wetland ecosystems. Martinez served as a biological volunteer for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, where she focused on the relationship of migratory bird populations and regulatory hunting at the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana. As past member of the National FFA Organization and 4-H Clubs, Martinez has experience in numerous areas of leadership associated with these organizations, specifically in the areas of livestock production, leadership development events, and community service projects. Martinez plans to continue her post-secondary education in the agricultural science field and concentrate on research implemented towards improvements in livestock production.


Dr. H.L. Goodwin, Ph.D. ,Professor Emeritus

Senior Economist

Dr. Goodwin is a Professor and Poultry Economist at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, a Senior Economist at the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the Director of Student Networking and Curriculum Enhancement for Bumper’s College. He joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas’ Center of Excellence for Poultry Science in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness in December 1997.

Prior to joining the university, he was the Agricultural and Food Systems Policy Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture in Slovakia and a Fulbright Scholar in Czechoslovakia. He was faculty at Texas A&M’s Department of Agricultural Economics and served as the Associate Director of the Texas Agriculture Market Research Center. He received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University in 1982.  Dr. Goodwin has been involved for many years in food safety training.