MEET OUR PROJECT TEAM
With over 50 years of experience, our training and technical assistance team are advocacy, training, and technical assistance experts in the areas of sexual assault, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. Our team has dedicated much of their personal and professional lives to improving the lives of Native people and believe that violence against women is not traditional. Please Note: The grant period for this project ended in September, 2016. The Tribal Law and Policy Institute is now using its own, non-federal, funds to further develop and maintain this website.
Bonnie Clairmont (Ho-Chunk) is a nationally recognized expert on sexual and domestic violence and a leading trainer and technical assistance provider on the topic of sex trafficking in Indian Country. Bonnie is an OVC Crime Victim Advocacy Award recipient and co-author of Sharing Our Stories of Survival: Native Women Surviving Violence. Prior to her work with TLPI, she served as the Outreach/Client Services Coordinator for a rape crisis center. Bonnie provided leadership in the development of Sexual Assault Response Teams and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs and offered guidance with multidisciplinary sexual assault protocol development. For four years she coordinated the Strengthening the Circle of Trust Conference, a conference focusing on sexual assault and exploitation perpetrated by American Indian spiritual leaders/medicine men. Bonnie provided technical assistance to research conducted by Amnesty International USA that led to the report, "Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous Women from sexual violence in the USA." Bonnie has dedicated much of her work to providing and improving services for victims and survivors of sexual assault, battering, and child sexual abuse, particularly those from American Indian communities.
Kelly Stoner (Cherokee) graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in December 1988. In October 2011, Ms. Stoner was appointed as a Judge for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. For the past twenty years, Kelly has taught at the North Dakota School of Law and Oklahoma City University School of law where she taught American Indian/Tribal Law and Domestic Violence related classes. For eight years, Ms. Stoner directed the University of North Dakota Native American Law Project that served clients of the Spirit Lake Reservation. Ms. Stoner’s caseload targeted domestic violence and sexual assault cases arising in Indian Country involving teen and adult victims. From 2001-2013, Kelly directed the Native American Legal Resource Center at Oklahoma City University School of law where she supervised law students prosecuting Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking cases in tribal courts and the Court of Indian Offenses and representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in civil matters in state, tribal and CFR Courts. Kelly testified before the U.S. Indian Affairs Committee regarding domestic violence issues affecting Native American women in Indian Country and was invited to the White House to witness the signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act. Kelly is also a frequent lecturer for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence and also lectures for the Office on Violence Against Women’s national technical assistance providers on domestic violence related issues in Indian Country. Stoner was awarded a federal grant to launch Oklahoma’s only tribal coalition against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking—the Native Alliance Against Violence. In 2011, Kelly supervised a project in partnership with the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma that established a SAFE Unit at a local hospital, recruited SANEs and targeted community education on the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Abby Thoennes is the Program Assistant for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute Minnesota office. She just joined TLPI in July 2019. Prior to her work at TLPI, Abby graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and went on to attend law school at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she graduated in 2016. She is currently licensed in Minnesota. She took some time off after law school to spend time at home with her two kids, Nora and Christopher. Abby comes from a customer service and administrative background, she has over 15 years’ experience in the customer service industry, which is where her dedication for serving and and working with people comes from. She interned with Fredrikson and Byron working on a nonprofit startup, The Wolves Den, a culturally based group residential housing program for American Indian women receiving methadone treatment. She has also interned with Wills for Heroes, providing essential legal documents free of charge, to our first responders. Abby’s most recent internship was with the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Ombudsman Office where she gained alternative dispute resolution experience.
Heather Torres (San Ildefonso Pueblo, Navajo), serves as a Tribal Justice Specialist. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law's Critical Race Studies program, where she focused her courses and research on Federal Indian law and the racialization of American Indian identity. During law school, Heather served as the President of the Native American Law Students Association, Executive Editor of the Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance, and Senior Editor of the Chican@/Latin@ Law Review. Her legal work experience includes serving as an Udall Foundation intern for the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs, extern with the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles ICWA Court, Native American Summer Associate at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, student tribal code drafter in the Tribal Legal Development Clinic, and an UC Public Service Law Fellow with the Tribal Law & Policy Institute 2017-2018. For the past year, she served as Director of Native Student Programs at the University of Redlands. Heather is licensed in the State of California and will rejoin TLPI as a Tribal Justice Specialist.
April Russell (Ho-Chunk & Rosebud Lakota) was the Program Assistant for Tribal Law & Policy Institute Minnesota office until 2019, she worked for the Institute since 2003. April assisted in the development of Sharing Our Stories of Survival: Native Women Surviving Violence. Prior to her work with TLPI, April attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN in the School of Social Work. She was employed as the Training Coordinator for the Native American Leadership Program and the Sheila Wellstone Institute at Wellstone Action in St. Paul, MN. She also worked as the Program Administrator for the Advocacy Learning Center for Praxis International in St. Paul, MN. April has worked as a consultant for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition where she was the Project Coordinator for the development of a tribal 40-hour sexual assault advocacy training curriculum. April resides in St. Paul with her husband and two children
Kori Cordero (White Mountain Apache) served as the Tribal Justice Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute until 2018. Kori played a key role in the development and management of the tribalcoalitions.org website and its victim services directory. Kori recently received a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, with specializations in Critical Race Studies and The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. While in law school, Kori focused their CRS specialization on tribal and federal Indian law and co-drafted an amicus brief in support of the Wishtoyo Foundation’s efforts to preserve sacred sites. Before TLPI, Kori worked as a law clerk at the Pascua Yaqui Prosecutor's Office in Tucson, Arizona, where they worked on a child welfare reform project. Kori also served as a law clerk for the San Bernardino County Office of the Public Defender in Victorville, California.