“There’s nothing holding you back except what’s in your mind”-Sara-Jane Smallwood, Promise Zone Coordinator and Policy Director.
Sometimes you speak with someone that has so much positive energy that it’s bound to rub off on you. Despite a massive headache during this conversation, I came away feeling energized after speaking with Sara-Jane Smallwood.
Sara-Jane is one of those people that had a clear goal from a young age and pursued that goal and was able to realize that goal: returning home to work for her tribe. She did so in a big way, working on a very high-profile program that eventually resulted in a visit from President Obama to Choctaw Nation.
Sara-Jane Smallwood is the Director of Public Policy and Promise Zone Coordinator for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Her Choctaw heritage and passion for public policy are intertwined. She comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers who make their living from the land, and she grew up near Sardis Lake and the Choctaw Capitol in Tvshka Homma. These experiences taught her the importance of the Choctaw Nation’s culture, natural resources, and leadership.
Jane is currently a student at Oklahoma State University pursuing a PhD in Environmental Policy. She received her Master of Public Affairs with emphasis in local governance and environmental policy from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2012. She received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and American Indian Studies at Oklahoma State University in 2008, and was named an Outstanding Senior as one of the university’s top graduates.
In 2007, she was chosen as a Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and the Stewart L. Udall Foundation and as a Fellow by the Public Policy and International Affairs Program, where she was part of the Princeton University summer fellowship. Sara-Jane was previously employed by the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division. Sara-Jane serves as an Oklahoma Champion for Early Opportunities with the Potts Family Foundation, board member of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Eastern Oklahoma State College Foundation. In her free time, SJ can be spotted cruising southeastern Oklahoma in her cobalt blue Mini Cooper.