Culture Department Staff

We are a small team of talented, knowledgeable individuals with a wide range of skills and experience. We love what we do, and we do it with passion. We look forward to working with our Chumash community and seeing you at our programs and events.

Meet our team

Get to know the talented individuals in the Culture Department

Nakia Zavalla

Cultural Director, Credentialed Samala Language Teacher

Nakia is deeply rooted in our culture and traditions. She is a traditional singer and cultural practitioner. She was raised on the Chumash reservation and has a Master’s degree in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College.

Crystal Mendoza

Culture Department Office Manager

Kelsie provides administrative support to the Culture Department and the Elders’ Council. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Boston University.

Culture and Language Programs Staff

Emma Lombardi

Culture and Language Programs Manager

My name is Emma Lombardi, and I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, where I currently live with my husband and 2 children. I hold a Master of Social Science with a focus on Nonprofit Resource Development from Antioch University. I am excited to work as the Culture and Language Programs Manager for the Culture Department. I am passionate about my nonprofit work and pride myself on helping my community. Growing up disconnect from my Sʰamala Chumash tribal community, I found my passion for learning our culture, language, and traditions, later in life and hope to continue to foster all I learn in future generations.

Kalynn Hubbard

Culture Program Assistant Manager 

I have been an educator for the past 23 years and hold a Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education from Brandman University. I have classroom experience with ages 3 to 12, managed and mentored middle school and high school students and last, I have also managed and helped run many different summers camp programs. My father was in the Navy, so I have lived in many different parts of the world and truly understand what it means to be flexible. My mother’s family was born and raised in the Santa Ynez Valley, so I have always considered the valley to be my home base. 

Hannah Rae Lent

Programs Coordinator Assistant

Haku, my name is Hannah and I am sʰamala Chumash as well as Mono Lake Paiute and Yokut. I have my Associates Degree in recreation management as well as a Bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University. I’m excited to be back home working in my community, a community I have been a part of my whole life. I grew up immersed in all my cultures, traveling playing hand game as well as singing traditionally. I hope to return to school and obtain my masters degree in the coming years. In my spare time I love to travel, attend gatherings such as handgame tournaments, pinenut festivals and much more.

Kathleen Marshall – Kuši

Credentialed Samala Language Teacher

I am a mother, wife, grandmother and daughter. My parents are Teresa and Miguel Lopez. I grew up on the reservation. I got involved with language and culture when I sat on the Education Committee.  We worked hand in hand with Dr. Applegate on creating our dictionary. I then became a language apprentice under Dr. Applegate and have been learning and teaching the language ever since.

Levi šičwat Zavalla

Community Language Teacher

Haku – My name is Levi Zavalla. I am a Sʰamala Chumash community member and also from the Maidu and Chemehuevi tribes. Culture has been a part of my life from a very young age as a singer and dancer. I am grateful for this job as it allows me to practice our old ways every day. This is why I am proud to work for our culture department.

Tani Zavalla

Culture and Language Teacher

Haku yila’ maktɨ ka Tani A’lish Zavalla
(Hello all, my name is Tani A’lish Zavalla)

I grew up on the Santa Ynez Chumash reservation with a strong Cultural upbringing. I am a traditional singer and dancer. I come from the Zavalla and the Kahn families. I received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology Exercise Science/Health promotion and a Minor in Native American Studies from Humboldt State University. I have worked for the tribe on and off for over 7 years, beginning with teaching traditional handgame to tribal youth, Camp Kalawashaq, and currently for the Culture Department as a Culture/Language Teacher. On my spare time I enjoy making ribbon skirts, family BBQs on the rez, attending powwows/big times, spending time with my two dogs, and traveling. I love working for the Culture Department and serving my Sʰamala Chumash people.

Isabella Marshall

Community Language Teacher

Haku, ma ktɨ ka Isawella ʼalapalaxulapu ni Sʰamala čumaš i noʼ. Hello my name is Isabella I am from the Santa Ynez valley and I am Sʰamala čumaš. 

I have been involved in the language and culture from a very young age by singing and dancing with our Sʰamala dance group and learning the language through community programming and tutoring sessions. The culture and language has been a huge part of my life since I can remember, and now having my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and Development I want to bring my knowledge back to the tribe and work towards the revitalization of our culture and language. 

Cultural Resource Management Staff

Edgar Alvarez

Cultural Resources Manager

Mr. Alvarez has eight years of experience in archaeological and paleontological monitoring, surveying, and excavation in southern California and has served as a field director for the last two years. Mr. Alvarez is proficient in GIS and specializes in ESRI’s ArcGIS software including ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, Survey123, Field Maps, and Quick Capture. He also served as a collections volunteer at the UCLA Fowler Museum where he created, edited, and updated catalogs for accessions, completed osteological identification forms on skeletal/faunal remains, and cataloged artifacts. Mr. Alvarez is also a member of both the Society for California Archaeology and the Society for American Archaeology.

Wendy Teeter

Cultural Resources Archaeologist

Wendy Giddens Teeter is the cultural resources archaeologist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. After serving for 24 years, she retired from her positions as Senior Curator of Archaeology for the Fowler Museum, UCLA Repatriation Coordinator, and teaching in UCLA American Indian Studies. Teeter has collaborated nationally and internationally with institutions and Indigenous communities on issues of repatriation and cultural heritage protection. She is Co-PI for Mapping  Indigenous Los Angeles, a community-based website devoted to storytelling through cultural geography and map making as well as providing educational resources and curriculum and for Carrying our Ancestors Home, which tells the history of repatriation at UCLA and stories of repatriation from Indigenous communities. Since 2007, Teeter has been co-director of the Pimu Catalina Island Archaeology Project, which seeks to understand the Indigenous history of the island and Tongva homelands through multi-disciplinary and collaborative methodologies. The Project provides a field school that has educated over 150 students on the importance of community-based archaeology.  Teeter helped to develop the Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange Program in the Native Nations Law & Policy Center, UCLA School of Law in 2003 and serves as on its Advisory Board. She serves on several boards and committees including the Indigenous Archaeology Collective, Chair of the Society for California Archaeology Curation Committee and as a founder and advisory board member for the UCLA Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange Program.