Rita Aspinwall -- Co-Host
Rita Aspinwall is an enrolled member of Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Growing up in Elk River, MN she moved up north in 2010 when she attended Fond-Du-Lac Tribal and Community College and played volleyball and holds the record in most set assists per season. She worked on a voice over project with FDLTCC along with appearing in their commercial in 2014. Upon graduating from FDLTCC, she conceived her first son, Kayson and her second son, Kade preceded. After that, she pursued her bachelor’s degree from The College of Saint Scholastica for Social Work. She graduated with a BSW in December 2015.
Ernie Stevens -- Co-Host
A graduate of University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Ernie spent his early years developing media tools to promote various tourism amenities in Wisconsin, and would later start his own company as a digital media producer. As a film student at UWO, he caught the producing bug where instead of writing and directing, and wanted to develop stories and be the one to hire the writers and directors to tell compelling, marketable, entertaining stories influenced and inspired by Native history, culture, people, and themes set in various contexts.
As any professional, Ernie wanted to have a diverse set of skills to be able to attain employment as needed, so he learned and worked in various fields, teaching himself and learning from others, most notably in the media and entertainment industries. He utilizes a visionary approach to following the next big industries, or to follow the economic trends, and aims to work in those fields he believes have more opportunity with less competition. His is capable of working in numerous areas with a skill set that can be used toward any of them. He adapts to the world around me and continue to learn as much as he can.
Ultimately, his objective is to produce TV, Film, and other forms of mainstream entertainment that can bring economic value, educate the masses, and inspire human beings. As he states, “It’s pretty simple. I am a father of three amazing kids (with a fourth on the way!), and husband to a wonderful wife. And oh yeah, I have three cats and two crested geckos.”
In his own words:
I have done a lot of community work throughout my life, but right now my main community priorities are working with the youth. For the last four years I have coached youth football, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball. My main passion in youth sports coaching is Lacrosse, for which I have been coaching for three years, with great success both on and off the field. As a coach I look to inspire my kids to be good individuals, students, family members, and someday professionals. I also help with cultural activities, where my family and I run the Maple Sugar camp very year for our Elementary School on Oneida, WI. I have also travelled around the state talking to middle schools, high schools, and Universities about various Native American themes and issues. Overall, working with the youth is some of the most important work I’ll ever do, and plan to do it for as long as I am able.
Wanda Sayers -- Voice Narrator
Wanda Sayers has been with Native Report from the very beginning. She is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Wanda started her Customer Service career in 1996. Wanda worked for various Non-profits that focused on providing advocacy for Native women and children facing issues such as homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction as well as reunification of Native children in foster care she started a wraparound service model where all providers for the clients she was advocating would come together to discuss and find ways to help clients meet their goals and objectives. Wanda also worked on grant proposals and developing programming to provide direct client services to the Native American community in Duluth. Wanda also worked for a larger Non-profit that provided a variety of services for all women and children. Wanda also worked for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians as their Grants & Contract Specialist it was an honor to work for the Red Lake Band as it has given her the opportunity to learn and grow and the many wonderful people she has met. Throughout her work she was able to increase her knowledge in areas by attending workshops and conferences that focused on the scope of work she was involved with. Wanda was certified as a Non-Pro-fit Accounting Professional which assisted her in submitting and receiving grants to fund the programs that were much needed in the Duluth area.
Wanda is a Blandin Leadership Program Alumni. She has gained professional knowledge throughout her years focusing on developing her customer service skills.
Wanda was invited to become the voice narrator for a new and upcoming PBS program Native Report. This opportunity is such a great honor and Wanda is very humbled to work with such a great cast and has been with the program since the beginning.
Wanda is currently the Customer Solutions Coordinator for Interstate Parking Company and thoroughly enjoys the fast pace environment while maintaining emphasis on the highest quality of consumer service.
Wanda is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with Duluth Business University.
Christina Woods -- Field Producer
Christina Woods is the field-producer of Native Report. As field producer, Christina helps develop stories about events, history, and accomplishments throughout Indian Country. She received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Masters of Educational Leadership from the University of Minnesota. Christina taught elementary and middle school students over the course of 20 years before developing charter schools on reservations.
Christina is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa located in Northern Minnesota.
Michael LeGarde -- Producer / Writer
Michael LeGarde is an enrolled member of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa in Northeastern Minnesota. Michael has an extensive work experience in the communication field. He worked for a radio station and two television stations in the Duluth-Superior market; worked in the public affairs office for the US Forest Service and as a public relations specialist for tribal government. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the College of St. Scholastica.
Julie Kellner -- Executive Producer / Director
Juli Kellner is the producer of over 175 documentaries for WDSE-TV. She is the executive producer of "Native Report" and also does special projects for the station, including the popular historical series "Harbor History." Juli is also the creator of ALBUM, a historical documentary series which first hit the airwaves in 1990. Recently, she produced a sweeping 12 part historical documentary series called IRON COUNTRY, which is regarded as the definitive visual history of Minnesota’s Iron Range. A veteran of over 20 years in the television industry, she got her start as a reporter and producer at WDIO-WIRT TV in 1982.