Our Team

Chief Executive Officer | President

Chrystel Cornelius

Ojibwe | Oneida

Chrystel Cornelius is the President & CEO of the Oweesta Corporation, a national Native CDFI intermediary predominantly serving Native communities across the United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Ms. Cornelius has worked with Native communities for most of her professional career, with more than 23 years of experience working in the Native economic development field. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians located in North Dakota. Ms. Cornelius has dedicated her career to capitalizing Native communities upholding tribal sovereignty and self-determination measures through the issuance of capital and organizational capacity building efforts.

Chrystel Cornelius is a founding steering committee member and previously held the position as the Board Secretary for the Native CDFI Network (NCN). Ms. Cornelius is also a former board member of Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), is a current board member of the Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF) and holds the position of Treasurer for the Red Feather Development Group. She is a BALLE Fellow and Skoll Fellow.

Chief Financial Officer | Executive Vice President of Finance & Lending

Florence Ludka


Florence Ludka is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Executive Vice President of Finance and Lending for Oweesta, responsible for the oversight and management of all finance and lending related activities and staff.

Prior to joining the Oweesta team, Ms. Ludka worked for a non-profit organization in Traverse City, Michigan for over 16 years as the Director of Finance and Technology. During her tenure, Florence procured expertise and experience in non-profit accounting, compliance, auditing practices, budget development and management, CRM/database management, administration, and training.

Ms. Ludka obtained a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in accounting from the University of Michigan. Ms. Ludka completed her undergraduate studies at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) earning a Bachelor of Science in Public Accounting and an Associates of Science in Technical Accounting. After completing her MBA, Florence returned to her alma mater as an adjunct accounting faculty member teaching accounting principles, intermediate accounting, auditing, advanced accounting and federal taxation. Currently, Ms. Ludka is in her third year of a six-year Ojibwe language pane immersion program.

Chief Operating Officer

Heather Rademacher Taylor

Heather Rademacher Taylor works as the Chief Operating Officer at Oweesta Corporation, where she manages the programs department, projects and grants, provides training and technical assistance to Native CDFIs, Native nonprofits, and Tribes, and works on development for the organization. She brings a lot of experience with public policy, grant writing, project management, and work with nonprofits to the team. Previously she worked in government and with nonprofits, most recently with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals as a health care policy advisor and at ONABEN – Our Native American Business Network as the Communications and Programs Coordinator. She is a graduate of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she earned her M.A. in International Human Rights and Development and a Graduate Certificate in Humanitarian Assistance. Additionally, she earned a B.A. in International Studies (with a minor in Spanish) and a B.A. in Political Science (with a minor in History) from Louisiana State University.

Accepting Applications

Chief Lending Officer

Accepting Applications

Chief Programs Officer

Senior Programs Officer | Capacity Building

Lanalle Smith


Lanalle Smith, Senior Programs Officer, Capacity Building for Oweesta Corporation, is an experienced technical assistance provider and facilitator. Lanalle is a member of the Navajo Tribe, of the Dibelzhini (Black Sheep) clan, born for the Naaneesht’ezhi tachii’nii (The Charcoal-Streaked Division of the Red Running Into the Water) clan. Lanalle is highly skilled in facilitation and training, executive and life coaching, management, housing counseling, Community Financial Development Financial Institutions, strategic planning, program development, and public housing. Lanalle formerly served as Principal for Black Feather Development, LLC; an Independent Consultant providing services to tribal organizations and non-profits focused on increasing organizational capacity. Lanalle was previously employed for fourteen years (seven years as Executive Director) with the Navajo Partnership for Housing, Inc. (NPH); a non-profit native Community Development Financial Institution. Lanalle’s recent housing experience includes Public Housing management for the Gallup Public Housing Authority. Lanalle currently serves as a board of director for the Next Step Network whose mission is to put sustainable homeownership within reach of everyone, while transforming the manufactured housing industry through consumer education, affordability and energy-efficiency.

Programs Officer

Sayre Savage

Sayre is a Programs Officer at Oweesta Corporation and currently lives in Maine. Sayre graduated from the University of Maine, has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2011, and began working in the CDFI industry in 2019 with a focus on Native American housing programs. She is a HUD Certified Housing Counselor, a certified Pathways Home Homebuyer Education provider and received her NMLS license #2127836 in 2021. Sayre has supported many financial education programs including one-on-one housing and financial counseling, homebuyer education, financial workshops, and VITA programs. During her free time, Sayre can be found exploring all the outdoor activities that Maine has to offer!

Programs Officer

Vincent J. Grant


Vincent J. Grant serves as the Executive Assistant at Oweesta Corporation in which he is passionate about providing support to the executive team. He is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Central North Dakota. Vincent has extensive experience working with Tribal governments and Native American focused non-profit organizations. He has earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Leadership and Management from the Turtle Mountain Community College.

At a young age while growing up on his tribal lands, he discovered his passion in leadership and advocacy. He has most notably been the first Chairperson of the Youth Council within his tribal nation. In his later years, he has been passionate about advocating for Two-Spirited (Indigenous, LGTBQIA +) rights. Vincent has dedicated his career to serving Native American Nations and the LGBTQ2S Community.

Accepting Applications

Programs Officer

Director of Lending

Jamie Olson

Nez Perce

Jamie Olson is the Director of Lending at Oweesta Corporation. Jamie’s 30-year professional career includes 25 years in banking, including branch management & commercial lending and 5 years leading a tribal enterprise. As Vice-President & Commercial Lender for Wells Fargo, Jamie successfully managed a commercial banking portfolio working closely with business owners, government & educational institutions and non-profit organizations as a financial partner and advisor. Jamie’s commercial lending experience includes; commercial real estate, business start-up, business expansion, business acquisition agriculture, equipment and working capital. Jamie served the Nez Perce Tribe as the Enterprise Executive Officer providing leadership and oversight of the Tribal Enterprises including business related economic development. Jamie is a Nez Perce descendant from Lapwai, Idaho.  Jamie and her husband Zeke (Nez Perce/Kiowa) currently reside in Clarkston, Washington and have four grown children and four grandchildren. Jamie golfs for fun; however, Zeke is a serious golfer and they compete in the Nimiipuu Golf League and participate in some Native golf tournaments held in the Pacific Northwest. Jamie’s educational experience include a B.S. in Business Administration from Lewis-Clark State College and completion of the Northwest Intermediate Banking School and the Pacific Coast Banking School. Jamie is involved with her alma mater as Vice-President of the Alumni Association, Chair of the Native American Alumni Association (NAAC) and a member of the LC Business Advisory Board. NAAC’s most notable event that Jamie is very involved with is the annual golf tournament that raises needed scholarship funds for Native students attending Lewis-Clark State College.

Lead Lending & Investment Officer

Alexandra Shaughnessy

Alexandra Shaughnessy is the Lead Lending and Investment Officer at Oweesta Corporation. She currently lives in Northern Colorado where she graduated with honors from Colorado State University. With her BA in Cultural Anthropology, she began working with Native CDFIs and non-profits in 2015 during an internship with Sweet Grass Consulting. She lived on both Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Reservations in South Dakota, where she worked with Lakota community members on community development research, impact evaluation, and data analysis.

Alexandra has spent the past four years in the private, financial sector processing and closing residential mortgage loans. Her expertise lies in loan processes and compliance, improving and streamlining internal practices, and emphasizing participatory and equitable practices. She’s received many awards in the mortgage industry pertaining to accuracy, volume, and process improvement. While she enjoyed the impact made from getting people into homes, she’s excited to be back in the Native, non-profit sector about which she is so passionate.

In her free time, she cuddles with her goldendoodle and standard poodle and explores all that Colorado has to offer with her husband. On the weekends, you will usually find her reading or finishing masterpieces in her adult coloring books.

Investment Officer

Mikeala Purvis


Mikeala Purvis, the Lending Assistant for Oweesta, is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She was born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan. She began her professional career after graduation, working full-time to complete her ASA. She continued her education with MOS Certification, Master Gardener Certification, and she is also a certified trainer in the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum. She hopes to further her education and to continue supporting and building economic growth and development within Indigenous communities.

In her spare time, she is an active volunteer through the Master Gardener Extension Program. She is currently educating community members all throughout Northern Michigan about the importance of sustainable agriculture, pollinator importance, and safe agriculture consumption.

Director of Finance

Daniel Lee Sharp

Returning to his home state of Texas after 36 years living abroad, Daniel is the Director of Finance for Oweesta; the longest standing Native Community Financial Development Institution intermediary, providing financial opportunities to strengthen sovereignty and economic independence for all Native communities.


Debbie Powers

Finance Assistant

Michelle Carlson

Michelle is a Licensed Massage Therapist who became interested in the small bookkeeping aspects of her massage practice.  She is now a Financial Assistant for Oweesta Corporation.

Executive Assistant

Anna Giron


Anna is the Executive Assistant to CEO Chrystel Cornelius at Oweesta Corporation. She has a background as a loan officer for a new and developing CDFI on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation. Anna has also worked in administrative roles for Turtle Mountain Tribal District III representative, Sky Dancer Hotel and Casino and Grand Treasure Casino. In addition, she has worked as a lead service representative for First Community Credit Union. Anna has experience working with audit firms, NIGC and Tribal entities.

Anna holds an Associate of Science degree along with being a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN). Her education and skills have enabled her to work in several positions where she has provided care for the elderly in the Turtle Mountain Community. She has extensive experience in caring for individuals throughout their end-of-life journey, beginning from the initial stages until their final resting.

Anna has also been working as a full-time substitute teacher for Dunseith Public High School. Her recent work includes teaching Read 180 and Music. In the first year, she taught in person but in the following two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she taught online through Google Classroom.

Development & Capitalization Officer

Mary Deiter

Peepeekisis Cree Nation

Mary Deiter is the Development and Capitalization Officer at Oweesta. Mary is passionate about creating connections between Native communities and resources. Additionally, she is excited to build relationships with Oweesta’s partners and working together to create opportunities to help strengthen sovereignty for all Native communities.

Previously, Mary worked at the ION center, where she implemented Green Dot, a nationally recognized strategy focused on preventing power-based personal violence within high schools and communities. Mary has also worked as an editor in New Mexico.

She holds a B.A. in Indigenous Studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mary is from the Peepeekisis Cree Nation, and currently splits her time between a small river town in Kentucky and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Communications Director

Sandy Thompson

Sandy’s 25-year professional career includes 15 years in financial marketing and communications, with six as Assistant Marketing | Communications Director for a large, regional bank and four years as Marketing Manager for a community credit union. She has assisted Oweesta on a project basis since 2018 and joined the team full-time in the spring of 2023.

Software Developer

Isaiah Cornelius


Isaiah served 6 years as a United States Marine. During his service, he had the opportunity to work around the world as a Marine Security Guard in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Bucharest, Romania. After being honorably discharged from the USMC, Isaiah returned to Colorado and used his GI bill to become a Licensed Massage Therapist. After working as an LMT, Isaiah moved back to the front range and started work as Oweesta’s OTIS Specialist, Office Manager, and now IT Specialist.