About Us

Red Star International, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides programs and services aimed at building the capacity – the potential to understand and respond to health issues – of indigenous governments, organizations, programs and communities. Services include, but are not limited to, public health training, program development and evaluation, and community assessment and improvement planning.

our vision

Healthy and vibrant communities resulting from Indigenous peoples exercising their right to self-determination to the fullest extent.


To advance community wellness by strengthening public health infrastructure and performance of Indigenous governments, organizations and communities through purposeful planning, action and leadership.


  • Self-determination as defined by those we serve.
  • Partnership to achieve shared outcomes.
  • Integrity as evidenced by actions, process and product.
  • Transparency – open, honest and accountable.
  • Greatest good for all; putting others before ourselves.

Self-determination is the principle that Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Nations have the inherent right to freely assert their sovereignty and political status. A strong Tribal public health infrastructure supports self-determination by providing a solid foundation from which meaningful planning and action can advance community wellness.

Governing Board

President & CEO


Aleena M. Kawe is an enrolled member of the Texas Band of Yaqui Indians with cultural ties to Old Pascua Pueblo in Tucson, Arizona. Aleena has more than 20 years experience working with indigenous communities in the U.S., and more recently in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Much of her work has focused on strengthening partnerships to advance shared goals in the areas of public health capacity, tribally-driven and participatory research practices, community health assessment, and improvement planning. She is a strong advocate for indigenous self-determination and healthy communities.

Aleena has a Master’s degree in Public Health, Community Health Practice Concentration, from The University of Arizona, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Prior to Red Star, Aleena served as Education Director for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, where she led the development of a culturally based charter high school and tribal library. She served as the administrator for the American Indian Research Center for Health at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, and worked in Native American student affairs at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College.

Aleena is married to Frank Te Mihinui Kawe (Ngāti Ranginui/Ngāti Kahungunu), who is active in the traditional voyaging practices of the Maori people of Aotearoa (New Zealand).


Secretary/Treasurer and Founding Member

IMG_0027editKaren Francis Begay (Navajo)

Karen is the Assistant Vice President of Tribal Relations at the University of Arizona.  Her primary role is to serve as a key representative and liaison between tribal leaders and the University in efforts to strengthen partnerships and advance mutual goals. Karen has devoted her career to advancing educational access and success for Native American students and to fostering relationships with tribal communities and institutions of higher education. Karen has a bachelor of science in public administration, a master of arts in American Indian studies, and is pursuing a PhD in higher education administration at the University of Arizona. She serves on two national non-profit boards: The College Board and College Horizons, and locally, Karen is a board member of the Tucson YWCA.


Founding Member

John R. Lewis (Mojave/Pima/Tohono O’odham Nation)

Mr. Lewis served as the Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) from 1975 – 2013 during a time of great political change for Tribes across the United States. In this capacity, Mr. Lewis worked to grow the organization from a staff of one with minimal funding into one that operates more than 30 programs and addresses a wide variety of programmatic areas including: Environmental Quality, Health & Human Services, Nutrition and Research. Within Arizona, Mr. Lewis and ITCA were instrumental in successfully advocating for tribal consultation on many issues and establishing tribal liaisons in state offices.  Mr. Lewis’ life’s work has been dedicated to advocacy on behalf of Tribes. His work led to establishing and strengthening the government-to-government relationship between Tribes and the State of Arizona.


Founding Member

Christina E. OréChristina E. Oré, MPH (Quechua – Mestiza Peru)

Born and raised in southwestern Arizona, Christina has over sixteen years of experience working as a public health practitioner with tribal communities, government and organizations in the U.S., including Guam, and Mexico. Christina received her BA from Oberlin College, Ohio.  She has an MPH in community health practice from the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. She is a Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship recipient and completing her DrPH, in public health policy and management. Christina’s experience has increasingly focused on Indigenous public health system improvement: traditional healing systems/ programs, data linkages, identifying ethical review protocols, community health assessments, tribal accreditation standards and measures, and tribal public health institute considerations. Christina also trained in social network analysis and digital storytelling as a way to provide creativity and innovation to public health work.  

Christina lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, Joseph Boehm; two children, Munai and Tenzin; and her extended family, which includes her father Horacio Oré Giron.