The 2021 Potawatomi Leadership Program participants spent the summer learning about the Citizen Potawatomi Nation virtually due to the pandemic. The 2021 class
consisted of 23 members, and the Hownikan asked every participant some introductory questions. Meet 12 of them now:

Alden Davison | Hometown: Puyallup, Washington

Alden Davison is a junior at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, studying computer science. He founded a computer programming club at ASU and served as a teaching assistant. He enjoys swimming, singing and learning languages. He knows German and is a pinball master.

Davison believes leadership comes from confident decision making and that “few structures exist where one can lead by passively dedicating theamount of effort requested.”

The Kennedy/Weld/Ogee descendant applied for the PLP to learn more about the Tribe’s culture and government as well as meet other CPN members. Making moccasins was one of his favorite activities as well as learning about Native agriculture’s cultural connection to the land.

Alexis Ladner | Hometown: Shawnee, Kansas

Alexis “Lexie” Ladner attends Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. She hopes to become a radiology technician after completing her degree. The Bourbonnais family descendant’s genealogy traces back to Antoine Bourbonnais, namesake of the Bourbonnais Cabin that still stands next to CPN’s Cultural Heritage Center. Ladner enjoys the outdoors, including horseback riding, hunting and skeet shooting.

She believes responsibility and dependability define leadership. “I think a leader puts people first and are empathetic and they try to connect with people,” she said. “They have to be open minded and creative along with being flexible.”

Ladner learned about her ancestors and their history, culture, diet and more while being a part of the PLP. She hopes to pass the knowledge along to the next generations.

Anna Stites | Hometown: Newbern, Tennessee

Greemore family descendant Anna Stites applied to the PLP in an effort to learn more about her Tribe. She begins her junior year at Murray State University in Kentucky in fall 2021, studying chemistry with hopes to attend medical school after her bachelor’s and become a physician.

“As a female physician starting out at a young age, it may be more difficult to gain trust within communities,” Stites said. “I plan to overcome this barrier by being hardworking and trustworthy. Once trust is gained, many of my barriers will be overcome.”

She also finds loyalty an admirable leadership quality and describes herself as caring and compassionate. Stites enjoys reading, swimming and snowboarding.

Autumn Johnson | Hometown: Quitman, Arkansas

Autumn Johnson recently discovered her matriarchal line of Potawatomi ancestry and enrolled as a Tribal member. As a part of the PLP, she looked forward to learning more about CPN and passing on the history and culture to others. She hoped to learn about traditional foods, in particular. Johnson returns to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway this fall as a junior studying nursing.

Johnson began playing sports at 3 years old. She participated in softball throughout high school and learned how to lead the team.

“I never missed a practice, hoping to lead as an example for the younger girls on my team. … I constantly worked hard to prove to the others on the team that hard work would get us back in the finals,” Johnson said.

She believes a good leader knows how to communicate.

Bailey Pendley | Hometown: Pryor, Oklahoma

Bailey Pendley felt compelled to apply for the PLP after discussing family lineage with a friend and realizing she needed more knowledge. She keeps a busy schedule as a student at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and returns this fall as a senior studying microbiology. Pendley hopes to continue and finish medical school to serve rural and tribal communities.

The LeClaire family descendant attempts to set herself aside as a leader at her part-time jobs, in class and at home.

“Work ethic, communication and perseverance are all qualities that come to mind when I think about a leader,” she said.

Pendley enjoys exercising, gardening, reading, traveling and cooking.

Braden Bruehl | Hometown: Norman, Oklahoma

Braden Bruehl hoped to learn more about his Potawatomi heritage and culture throughout the PLP as well as develop his leadership skills. Throughout his experience as a youth leader at his church, he “learned that being a leader is not at all about the personal gain or pride, but the giving back to the community so that you can continue to make a difference in the lives of others,” Bruehl said.

He admires Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett for his accomplishments as CPN’s leader and hopes to give back to the Tribe after completing medical school. The Pambogo family descendant began his freshman year this month at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, studying chemistry as a pre-med student. He enjoys traveling, hiking and playing soccer in his free time.

Brenna Kishkikwé (Cedar Woman) Kelly | Hometown: Missouri City, Texas

Brenna Kelly followed her sister’s footsteps and applied for the PLP after hearing about her experience and the different connections it created. Kelly looked forward to learning about traditions, language and business the most. As a sophomore at the University of Dallas in Texas, she studies business and marketing.

The Melott and Bergeron family descendant has played softball as a catcher and carries leadership lessons from the field into her everyday life.

“Being a leader is active, not passive, and it requires you to work just as hard as those around you,” she said.

Kelly hopes to participate in future activities with the Tribe and bring the fierceness and bravery of her aunt and grandmother who have walked on.

Caelin Fillingim | Hometown: Port Orchard, Washington

Caelin Fillingim started learning about CPN at 18 years old and saw the PLP as an opportunity to expand her knowledge and get involved. The Copaugh family descendant looked forward to beading classes and learning more about traditional ecological knowledge. As a visual communication design major at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Fillingim enjoys Potawatomi floral patterns in particular.

She believes leadership includes a balance of service and self-care.

“It is important that a leader views themselves as a servant to the people who placed them in leadership, rather than getting caught up in their own agenda,” Fillingim said.

She hopes to pass along all she learns to her future children while continuing to serve the Tribe.

CeAirra Bowman | Hometown: Safford, Arizona

As a biology and behavioral health major at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix, CeAirra Bowman plans to become as a physician’s assistant or physician. She begins her senior year of college as a Certified Nursing Assistant and phlebotomist with her CPR certification. The Milot family descendant works at a local nursing home.

Bowman considers herself a leader at work and on ACU’s volleyball team.

“Being a leader means being an inspirational character in the community you live in, someone who possesses the qualities to bring out the best in others, and loves God and others above all,” she said.

Bowman fills her free time with traveling, hiking and caring for animals on her family’s farm.

Daniel Adams | Hometown: Port Washington, Ohio

Daniel Adams decided to apply for the PLP to connect with Tribal culture and learn CPN history but also to use the information he learns later in his career. As an integrated social studies major at Malone University in Canton, Ohio, he plans to become a history teacher or professor. Adams wants to highlight Native history in a new way for future students.

The Toupin family descendant uses his leadership skills as a resident advisor at Malone, including adaptability and level-headedness.

“We have all failed before, but what makes us grow from that failure is one being able to hold themselves accountable for their mistake or failure,” Adams said.

When not completing classwork or managing the dorms, he enjoys restoring tractors, bowling and bonfires.

Eli McKown | Hometown: Clayton, Michigan

Eli McKown attends Michigan State University in East Lansing. He enjoys writing and sports, which makes sports journalism his ideal major. He begins his junior year this fall and will continue covering university athletics for The State News, MSU’s student newspaper. McKown ran cross-country in high school and enjoys playing basketball. He grew up on a farm in Clayton, Michigan, raising cattle and planting crops.

He describes himself as consistent, yet versatile, and believes leaders should be selfless in their work.

“They have to be able to understand when a moment is bigger than them and make the right decisions or do the thing that others won’t to help move forward,” McKown said.

He applied for the PLP to better connect with his heritage and learn about Potawatomi cuisine.

Grace Laughton | Hometown: Mission, Kansas

Grace Laughton describes herself as friendly, talkative and outgoing. As a theatre and film major at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, she enjoys collaborating with and directing crews for stage productions.

“A good leader should have integrity, be able to communicate with their team effectively, bring people together in times of hardship, motivate others, and, most importantly, inspire greatness and transformation among the people they lead,” Laughton said.

She applied for the PLP to learn more about Potawatomi culture and her heritage. Her favorite activities included beading classes and making moccasins, and Laughton hopes to pass the skills along to other Tribal members.

Read the next edition of the Hownikan to meet the rest of this year’s Potawatomi Leadership Program class. Check out their final projects and portfolios at Find out more about the program at and visit the CPN Department of Education at