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For some in Indian Country who watched President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, the woman wearing a ribbon skirt sitting with First Lady Jill Biden in her viewing box caught their attention.

She is Melissa Isaac, a tribal citizen of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, located in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Isaac serves her community through her role at the Michigan Department of Education.

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Most recently, Isaac worked as the Director of Education for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. As an elementary school teacher at Saginaw Chippewa Academy (SCA), Isaac recognized the need to support the mental health of her students and their families.

She later successfully applied for a Project AWARE grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Using this grant, Isaac expanded mental health services for children at SCA and two public school districts, which included services for Native American children.

Issac met the First Lady Biden and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy last October 24, 2021, when they hosted a listening session focused on youth mental health with members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, educators, and families on the Isabella Indian Reservation in Mt. Pleasant.

On Tuesday evening, Issac traveled with the presidential motorcade from the White House to the U.S. Capitol.

 

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