On the heels of our last staff announcement, I am delighted to share that Cecily Engelhart has joined our team as the new Grants and Operations Administrator. Informed by her Očhéthi Sakówiŋ roots, she brings a passion for narrative and social change, as well as a great warmth of spirit. We are grateful to have her support in holding down the essential work of grants management and admin, while also bringing her skills to bear in communications. Cecily lives in Rapid City, South Dakota. Please see her bio below. Welcome Cecily!
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge Karen Mehringer once again, who patiently stayed with us through this recent transitional time and has gracefully handed off a role she held for nearly seven years in supporting our organization. I am especially grateful.
Kind regards, Sonja
I am an Ihanktonwan & Oglala mother, media nerd, pop culture enthusiast, foodie, animal lover, book reader & living room/kitchen dancing expert. I was raised in South Dakota; my school years spent with my mother in the small college town of Vermillion and summers with my father, grandparents, and innumerable cousins on the Yankton Sioux Reservation along the muddy banks of the Missouri River. All my fondest memories relate to cooking delicious food, being in the sunshine, playing favorite games, and watching movies.
I’m unwaveringly passionate about how methods of expression shape our understandings of ourselves and each other. My personal and professional work has consistently coalesced around storytelling in its various forms, most often through cooking, design, writing, and filmmaking. Through all my contributions to the world, I seek to be a good relative, a good future ancestor, and a responsible steward of Unči Maka.
Prior to joining the Swift Foundation team I worked at First Peoples Fund, a Native-women led organization committed to honoring and supporting Indigenous artists and culture bearers, and Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a Oglala Lakota nonprofit organization committed to empowering Lakota youth and families. I have a Masters Degree in Social Documentation from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a Postgraduate Diploma in Māori Studies from the University of Auckland (earned during my time as Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar), and a Bachelors Degree in American Indian Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of South Dakota.
None of my memories or milestones in life would have been possible without the love, help, and guidance of others. I have great gratitude for all those who have contributed to my life’s journey, as well as the people who are presently my support system and motivation.