January 14, 2014 – DPp staff 1.jpg The Diabetes Prevention Program team is (left to right) Kathy Sterbenz, R.N., Cody Wilson, and Melinda Williamson. They offer classes and several exercise programs throughout the reservation each week that are dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle. MAYETTA: The pring series of classes begins this week that is being offered by the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) staff to help people lose wieght and to learn healthy nutritional ways to eat better. Classes are about setting “do-able” weight-loss goals, preparing healthy meals and having fun while increasing an exercise routine. The first class will be held Wednesday, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with another class scheduled for Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Classes are held in the DPP suite of offices located in the Prairie Band Health Center. Classes are open to the community and are held weekly for 16 weeks. The Potawtomi News ran a series of DPP success weight-loss stories in 2013 where members offered testimonials about how the program works. In general, approximately 25-30 pounds can be taken off in the four month span by following the program’s goals. Unlike Weight Watchers or other commercialized weight-loss programs, the DPP program offers in-depth individualized coaching and attention to participants. The DPP staff includes Melinda Williamson, Kathy Sterbenz and Cody Wilson and more about the program can be found at

Venida Chenault mug 1.jpg

MAYETTA:  Venida Chenault, a tribal member, has been selected as the new President of Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) in Lawrence, Kan.  Chenault has been serving as the school’s vice president of academic affairs since 2004 and been working at HINU in the social work program since 1991.  To her credit, she built the program and was a faculty member for 13 years.

Haskell’s last president, Chris Redman, resigned in May and in the interim the school has been led by Michael Lewis, chief of finance.

Seven candidates interviewed for the position at Haskell and in Washington, D.C. at the Bureau of Indian Education which runs the federal school system for American Indian and Alaska Native children from federally recognized tribes.

Chenault holds a doctorate and earned her undergraduate degrees in social work from the University of Kansas (KU).  She also attended Haskell in 1975 and 1984 and she was named the Outstanding Haskell Alumni of the Year in 2009. That same year she was also a visiting scholar at KU and conducted a landmark study pertaining to the study on violence and abuse against Indian women on the Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation.

Chenault resides in Lawrence and has four children.