Board Members

TLC is governed by a five-member Board of eminent indigenous language specialists, both Native speakers and linguists. The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall direction and decision-making of the organization. Directors are elected for two-year terms from candidates nominated from within the Board.

Wilhelm Meya is the Chairman and Executive Director of The Language Conservancy. He is a national advocate for endangered languages and draws on more than 20 years of experience in higher education, linguistics, and nonprofit management. Under Mr. Meya’s leadership, the Conservancy has become the chief promoter of worldwide action for protecting languages and preserving cultures.

Ben Black Bear (Sičháŋǧu Lakȟóta) serves as the Lakota Translation and Language Specialist for the Lakota Language Consortium. His other credentials include positions as the former Vice President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the founder of the Lakota Studies Department at Sinte Gleska University, and the current director of Lakota Studies at St. Francis Mission.

Yvonne Russo (Sičháŋǧu Lakȟóta) is an accomplished film producer who has developed and produced content for HBO, National Geographic, Discovery/TLC, The Smithsonian Channel and PBS. Her productions, centered on Native American themes and issues, have received awards from the Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance, the American Indian Film Festival, and First Americans in the Arts.

Dr. Janine Pease (Crow) is an educator and advocate. She is the founding president of Little Big Horn College, past president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and former director of the American Indian College Fund. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education and the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities. She has also served as a trustee of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Jan Ullrich is Linguistic Director and Vice-Chairman of The Language Conservancy. He is one of the world’s leading applied linguists and the foremost authority on the Lakota language. Mr. Ullrich brings these skills and specializations in curriculum development and teacher-training to his leadership of TLC’s endangered language programming work.