Meet The Team
We are proud that the PAZA, Tree of Life team is made up of many deverse members from different cultural backgrounds, spiritual beliefs, skill sets and talents.
Delwin "Elk Bear" Fiddler
Delwin Elk Bear Fiddler, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Sans Arc band, and a world renowned Native American performing Artist. Delwin's accolades include performing for two American President’s and the Royal Family in England. As a teenager he was a champion Grass and Hoop dancer on the pow-wow circut. His traditional Grass Dance is displayed in a continual loop at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Delwin’s Lakota name is Hehakapa Mahto (Elk Bear). Delwin is third generation grandson of the Elk Head Red Hair (Hehakapa Pahinsa) who was the historical Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe and signer of the 1868 Forty Larime Treaty. Delwin is an advocate for all Native people and works with many tribal nations and government entities to solution ways to improve the way of life Native Indian people across Turtle Island. Aside from performing, Delwin's work involves a commitment to protecting and defending Mother Earth. He spent six months on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota during the protest of the DAPL being forced upon sacred land. During that time, he connected and prayed with people from all over the world. Delwin created PAZA, Tree of life to fulfill his mother's dream of returning the people to the roots of their culure. PAZA's goal is to promote cultural awareness with cultural exchange so that all people might learn the medicine ways of his ancestors who have walked the earth for thousands of years. While it is impossible to change the route of colonization imposed on Native peoples of Turtle Island, Delwin believes that through empowerment and reconciliation, healing can occur. Like his ancestor, Crazy Horse, he sees the future with all people working together in harmony for the greater good of humankind.
Director of Operations/
Maria Ragonese's early career was in Corporate America as an administrative assistant in the Financial District of New York City. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, where Maria lost two family members, she became an advocate for the rights of many 9-11 families including her own. This radically reshaped her life. Throughout the years, Maria has been certified through organizations such as VNA Hospice, Crisis Text Line, and Stephen Ministries to counsel and guide people through life's difficult journeys. Maria's deep appreciation and respect for Native American History and Culture began when she was a child. She always felt that someday it would have a significant place in her life. Today, she is an adopted member of the Sans Arc Band of the Lakota Souix. Her native name is Wichapi Waziya Wyan which means North Star Woman. Leading PAZA, Tree of Life, and meeting and working with indigienous relatives across Turtle Island, has been the fulfilment of a life long calling. Maria resides in Easton, PA with her husband, Mike, her blended Lakota/Italian family, and her two beautiful dogs, Sadie and Jake.
Administration & Programs
Briana Fenston is a 2018 graduate of East Stroudsburg University, summa cum laude, with a dual BS degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. Briana has always had a gift connecting with childern. Through her own struggles as a child with disabilities, she has always been an advocate for those who with special needs and/or who are underprivileged. Briana is currently a special education teacher at Lehigh Valley Charter School in Bethlehem, PA. As PAZA's Manager of Administration and Programs, Briana has an integral role in keeping all things PAZA flowing smoothly from our administrative task to our event planning. Briana has a deep respect for Native American history and culture. She says, being part of the PAZA Team has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in her life. Briana resides in Easton, PA with her husband of 4 years. She is looking forward to being a first time mom as they await the birth of their first child in the summer of 2023.
Kenny Fenston is a a gifted auto mechanic who graduated Lincolon Technical Institue in Mahwah, NJ, in 2012. After working in his field for companies such as Nissan and Ford, Kenny decided to branch out, away from the automotive field and expand his management skills with SBM Management in Bethlehem PA, as a Warehouse Supervisor. Kenny's love for the environment recently lead to a new job as a lawncare specialist where he can spend more time working outdoors. Kenny manages the responsibilites of Human Resources for the PAZA team. He is also a jack of all trades and wears other hats whenever needed in the areas of technology, production and logistics. Kenny is also a gifted Level II Reiki Master and a deeply spiritual person. Kenny resides in Easton, PA with his wife, Briana, their pets: Cat, Copper, Tortoises, Roco & Roxy, and Turtle: Tank. They are expecting their first child in August 2023.
Conservation & Community
Robert Christopher currently holds the position of the City Forester for the City of Easton in Pennsylvania. He is also a supporting Industry expert for the Easton Environmental Advisory Council. Robert has a B.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture/Landscape Design, from Delaware Valley University (1990) and is a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) (2017), during the Summer of 2019, he completed a program through Penn State University to become a PA Forest Steward. Robert enjoys gardening, raising fancy fowl, painting and drawing, is an avid antiques/art collector. Being the eldest son of 4 boys and a first-generation child of Italian immigrants. Robert has asllo been a certified foster parent for several years, ultimately adopting his daughter, Katrina. Robert has a strong sense of tradition, spiritual beliefs and has been blessed with a strong sixth sense that is still unfolding each passing day. Robert is an advocate for environmental preservation, human/animal welfare, is fascinated with our Universe and the ever-unfolding mystery of human consciousness. Robert is also a member of PAZA's Advisory Circle for Environmental Affairs.
Rev. Dr. Samora Smith
Arts & Culture
Dr. Samora (aka Dr Love) currently serves as Manager for PAZA’s Arts & Culture Department. She brings years of experience as a professional singer/songwriter and performer who has worked with indigenous artists from all over the world. Dr. Samora comes from a multicultural background and has devoted her life’s work to bringing harmony and love to people of all beliefs and backgrounds through Education, Arts and Advocacy. Dr. Samora is currently the Associate Director of The New Seminary for Interfaith Studies, a Certified Human Rights Consultant, and a Master Healer specializing in Sound & Vibrational Therapies. Dr. Samora’s walks alongside her indigenous relatives to bring forth the vision of the Lakota Rainbow Warriors as prophesied by Chief Crazy Horse: “There will come a day when people of all races, colors, and creeds will put aside their differences. They will come together in love, joining hands in unification, to heal the Earth and all her children. They will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding, and healing everywhere they go”. As part of the Arts & Culture team, Samora works closely with Mr. Fiddler as a key performer and educator for many of PAZA’s presentations and performances. Samora is also a member of PAZA's Advisory Circle for Arts & Cultural Affairs.
Grants & Fundraising
Jennifer McCloskey joins the PAZA team, after 30 years of public service. Jennifer started her company "Out of the Rockies" to leverage her own experience of starting and operating a non-profit. She felt this would be the best way to utilze her knowledge and experience to help her clients grow and thrive. As a cancer survivor, Jennifer is uniquely connected to PAZA's mission of healing and our role as protectors of Mother Earth. Prior to serving Paza, Jennifer raised over a million dollars to start Nevada's first all-girls charter school and was the Deputy Regional Director with the Department of Interior overseeing a $40 M budget and grant giving. Under Jennifer's guidance PAZA plans to grow in sustainabilty and capacity to continue on with our mission and vision for years to come. Jennifer currently resides in Butte, Montana with her husband and daughters.