Board of Directors


Mary J Risling, President

Mary J. Risling is of Hupa, Yurok and Karuk descent and is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Mary has a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D., both from the University of California at Davis, where she graduated with honors. Admitted to California State Bar in 1979 and licensed to practice before federal, state and various Tribal Courts, Mary worked with California Indian Legal Services (CILS) for two decades. In addition to representing individuals, Mary gained extensive experience representing tribal governments on a wide array of issues covering such diverse substantive areas as environmental law, cultural resource protection, commercial transactions, housing, employment, health, and domestic relations. Mary has assisted several tribes in developing tribal justice systems, and she distinguished herself in her work with Indian tribes and organizations on issues impacting family and community health. She served on numerous tribal and state policy bodies, including several terms on the California Judicial Council, Family and Juvenile Law Standing Advisory Committee. Regarded as an expert in Indian child and family issues, Mary authored legal practice guides published by CILS and by the State Bar of California.

Mary’s dedication to indigenous issues prompted her to encourage and support the work of culture bearers by establishing the non-profit Me’dil Institute.

Virgil Moorehead, Vice-President Member

Virgil Moorehead is Yurok, and an enrolled member of the Big Lagoon Rancheria. The Big Lagoon Rancheria is a federally recognized tribe of Yurok and Tolowa Indians. They are located in Humboldt County and their tribal headquarters is in Arcata, California. Their 20 acre reservation is adjacent to Big Lagoon, a beautiful waterway, located 30 miles north of Eureka. Virgil is a graduate of Humboldt State University. He actively supports community health as a long time coach of youth wrestling and through service on the United Indian Health Services Board of Directors. For decades he has served as the Chairman of the Big Lagoon Rancheria. In this capacity, Virgil has provided leadership in all areas of tribal operations – governmental, housing, economic development, environmental, child welfare and the entire spectrum of programs relevant to the operations of contemporary tribes. Under Virgil’s leadership, the Big Lagoon Rancheria has repeatedly distinguished itself with unique economic development initiatives that are sensitive to tribal sovereignty.

Jonathan Brooks, Secretary/treasurer

Jon Brooks serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Me’dil Institute. Jon has a B.A. in Economics from Sacramento State University and an M.A. from the University of California at Davis in Agricultural Economics. Following a decade of public service, Jon opened a real estate appraisal practice and distinguished himself by becoming the only Member of the Appraisal Institute on the north coast, where he relocated to be near the Hoopa, Yurok and Karuk tribes. These are the tribes Jon’s wife and three children are affiliated with. Living in Humboldt County, Jon was privileged to spend time with tribal elders who taught him about native language and traditional cultural practices and ceremonies. Jon is a member of an Indian family, adept with the Hoopa language and an accomplished regalia maker. For over four decades he has respectfully supported local tribal cultural practices and ceremonies. Valuing the knowledge he has been exposed to Jon has most recently taken it upon himself to study and master video production and editing in order to facilitate documentation of traditional practices.

Kayla Carpenter, Board Member

Kayla Carpenter is of Hupa, Yurok and Karuk descent and is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Kayla holds a bachelors degree in Linguistics from Stanford University and a masters degree in Linguistics from U.C. Berkeley. She is currently a graduate student in the Linguistics Ph.D. program at U.C. Berkeley. An advocate for California Indian language revitalization and/or restoration, she is also a traditional basket weaver and singer. Part of an extended family that provides traditional ceremonial leadership for the Hoopa Tribe, Kayla has the distinction of serving as the kinahLdung for revival of Ch’iLwa:l, a traditional coming of age ceremony for young women of northwest California tribes.

Jerome Jay Williams, Board Member

Jerome Jay Williams, Jr., is a Miwok from Sacramento Valley and Mewuk from Calaveras County. He is an enrolled member of the Wilton Rancheria. The Wilton Rancheria is based in Elk Grove, California, within the aboriginal territory of the Miwok people that Jay descends from. Following a 2009 federal court decision reversing the misguided federal “termination” policy, Wilton became the only federally recognized tribe in Sacramento County. Jay has spent his life in his aboriginal lands, including attending Sacramento City College and working for many years for the County of Sacramento. Jay is active in his tribe’s programs and serves on tribal committees such as the Enrollment Committee. Notwithstanding termination, Jay continues his unwavering commitment to continuation of tribal rights and traditional practices. Jay has been an active participate in tribal ceremonies for over 20 years dancing with various Miwok groups and a Maidu group at different village sites throughout California. Jay is gratified to be part of a large extended family that is stepping up to maintain traditional practices.


Facilities. Officers donate space to house Me’dil operations, including equipment necessary to operate business functions.

Staffing. This is a labor of love. The president volunteers services to administer corporation business. All board members donate time and resources to projects, most of which rely upon volunteer participation of practitioners and participants.

Past Board Members

The Me’dil Institute acknowledges and expresses appreciation to the following Individuals who have served on the Board of Directors:

  • Mr. Leslie Risling (Hupa, Yurok, Karuk; enrolled Hoopa Valley Tribe).  Founding Board Member.
  • Ms. Kathy Dowd (Yurok; enrolled Resighini Rancheria).