Addressing inequity

What we do.

The Kwek Society was founded by Eva Marie Carney in early 2018. Eva is a dual citizen of the United States and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, an elected legislator for the Nation, and a human rights lawyer. The Kwek Society works to shine a light on and to address menstrual and other inequities in Native communities.

Eva’s eyes were opened to the shocking rate of period poverty on rural Native reservations when she read Why Many Native American Girls Skip School When They Have Their Periods, by Eleanor Goldberg.

In the piece, a Pine Ridge Reservation student reports that about half of her friends can’t afford tampons or period pads so they have to skip school for as a long as a week when they are on their periods, and then fall farther and farther behind in class. Eva found untenable this injustice of missing out on school due to a lack of access to period products. She launched The Kwek Society with a particular focus on supplying Native American students in rural areas with period products. (“Kwe’k” means “women” in the Potawatomi language.)

One in Four Women  Struggled to Purchase Period Products this year.

An essential need.

 

Many Native people refer to the time of menstruation as their “moon time.”  Early on, Eva worked with several fellow Potawatomi kwe’k to develop The Kwek Society’s signature “moon time bags.” These are colorful cotton bags sewn by supporters and stuffed with pads or tampons and liners. The bags are a discreet way to keep supplies on hand when one’s moon time approaches. You can read more about how we developed our moon time bags here.

Since 2018, The Kwek Society has expanded to provide period supplies to students living in Native cities and suburbs and to get supplies to other Native community members, including unhomed individuals, who can’t afford these expensive necessities. We believe that every person deserves sufficient supplies to maintain dignity and celebrate their strength during their moon time. No one should have to miss school or work or activities of daily life when they are on their periods, and no one should suffer the indignity of stained clothing, or use period supplies for longer than intended and risk their health due to insufficient supplies.

We are very small and all volunteer (except for our data entry intern who we pay).  A majority of our board members are Native Americans. We believe that our respect for tribal traditions has been integral to our growth.

We interact with leaders of schools and governments and community-based organizations in Native American communities to meet the specific period product needs of each community. Our objective is to support the dignity of each person we serve and to meet individual preferences for period supplies whenever possible.

Our mission

Meet the need.

We at The Kwek Society are focused on supplying Native students and communities the period products they need to maintain their dignity and celebrate their strength and their moon times.  We collaborate with schools and Native programs across North America, in rural areas, suburbs and cities, to eliminate period poverty among Native Americans. We educate about moon time as a time for celebration and we work to support the dignity and strength of all we serve. 

Dignity. Strength. Period Supplies.

The Kwek Society is a strong force pertaining to the issue of period poverty. Our school district serves a large Native American population and the grants of moon time bags have helped these students be more present in school as well as open doors to more conversations educating young students about puberty.

The Kwek Society provides so much more than just grants, they are encouraging and share their expertise to expand services to all menstruating students in various ways.

April Stobbe

School Board Member, School Volunteer, Shawnee Public Schools (OK)

Non-profit excellence

Dedicated to impact.

The Kwek Society is committed to ending period poverty in Native communities. We are also committed to thriving as a respected and well-run non-profit performing with transparency and excellence.

Here are some of our milestones to date:

  • Early 2018: We obtained our 501(c)(3) public charity tax-exempt status from the IRS.
  • Early 2019: We earned GuideStar’s highest level of recognition – its Platinum Seal of Transparency.  We continue to maintain that recognition.
  • Early 2019: We received our first donation from a sovereign Native Nation, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.
  • Summer 2019: We received a substantial in-kind donation of tampons and pads purchased and delivered by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to 20 schools in Oklahoma and New Mexico, which allowed us to proceed with new partnerships, knowing the 20 schools who got CPN donations were taken care of for the school year.
  • Late 2019: We were recognized at the Reykjavik Global Forum – World Leaders with the Power Together Award.
  • Late 2019: We were awarded our first public grant — a $2,500 Winter Assistance grant by MissionBox, an online hub for nonprofits — which we used to purchase a special supplement of period supplies for students in 15 of the schools and programs we support, to eliminate their concerns about addressing their moon times in a dignified way while on holiday break and out of reach of their schools’ supplies.
  • Early 2020: The Kwek Society was invited to become an Allied Program of the Alliance for Period Supplies, a national organization working to ensure that individuals in need have access to essential period products required to participate fully in daily life.
  • Summer 2020: We received our first foundation grant from The Burkehaven Family Foundation.
Kwek Power Together Award

Founder & President Eva Marie Carney, fourth from right, receiving The Kwek Society’s Power Together award from the Reykjavik (Iceland) Global Forum – World Leaders in November 2019, alongside twenty-four other organisations using our Power, Together to end the stigma of menstruation that still plagues society.

Your donations support our critical work to support dignity and affirm Native people. They are tax-deductible pursuant to IRS rules. We stretch every dollar to the limit: everyone in the organization volunteers their time, except for our graduate student intern (we believe all interns should be paid!), and we tirelessly pursue donations of period supplies, postage and more to reduce expenses. 

You can find the most up-to-date information on our partnerships, operations and impact by reviewing our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile.

Guidestar Platinum Seal

You can support our mission directly with your donations, checks, packages and correspondence to:

The Kwek Society
Attn: Eva Marie Carney
P.O. Box 5595
Arlington, VA  22205

Telephone: 202-630-5210

501(c)3 number (EIN): 82-4369803

If shipping products via UPS or FedEx, please email us for a private address.

Follow

Stay connected.

Share

Give a review.

Our Board

Who we are.

Eva Marie Carney

Founder

Eva Marie Carney

Eva Marie Carney is The Kwek Society’s Founder and Board President. She holds elected office as a Member of the Legislature of the Shawnee, Oklahoma-based Citizen Potawatomi Nation and works as a human rights lawyer through Just Neighbors, a nonprofit law firm. Eva is a citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and lives in Virginia.

Eva earlier was a partner in a Washington, D.C. law firm and an Assistant General Counsel with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Eva graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BA in history, and received her JD from Stanford Law School. She is married to Board Treasurer Alan L. Cohen. Their two adult children actively support The Kwek Society and their dog Bailey serves as the organization’s Chief of Morale.

 

Alan L. Cohen

Treasurer

Alan L. Cohen

Alan L. Cohen serves as Treasurer of The Kwek Society. He most recently served as Interim President of BBB National Programs. Previously, he was General Counsel of the non-profit Council of Better Business Bureaus and Vice Chair of its National Advertising Review Board. Earlier, Alan worked as counsel for a federal psychiatric hospital, as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission and the Alexandria, Virginia Legal Aid Society, and had his own private law practice. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Rochester and his JD is from the National Law Center, George Washington University.

 

Barbara B. Hannigan

Vice President

Barbara B. Hannigan

Barbara B. Hannigan, Board Vice President, is a retired attorney and ethics official. Before joining our Board, Barbara served as Ethics Officer of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a non-profit financial regulator. Before assuming that role, Barbara spent close to two decades at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, serving as SEC Ethics Counsel and Designated Agency Ethics Official among other roles. Before her SEC career, Ms. Hannigan was an associate with the Washington D.C. law firm now known as Pillsbury.  Barbara lives in Virginia.

Barbara received a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Georgetown University and a J.D. from The American University.

 

Linda Marie Arredondo

Board Member

Linda Marie Arredondo

Linda Marie Arredondo has over 20 years of IT leadership experience, gained while managing IT operations in a variety of industries, including: government, finance, healthcare, enterprise, and emergency management. Linda currently serves as Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President at Express Employment Professionals International. Linda is a citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and resides in Oklahoma.

Among other positions, Linda previously served as the Director of Information Technology for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, providing oversight for the design and management of technology infrastructure for CPN’s executive, government and judicial branches. Additionally, Arredondo provided IT governance for CPN’s enterprise, industrial, and healthcare initiatives.

Linda earned a B.S. in Business, summa cum laude, from St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Oklahoma and plans to attend the Executive MBA program at the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business. She notes: “As a female tribal member working in a STEM-oriented career, I hope that my continuous learning model sets a positive example for students across Indian Country.”

 

Kathy Meacham Webb

Board Member

Kathy Meacham Webb

Kathy Meacham Webb is a citizen of the Shawnee, Oklahoma-based Citizen Potawatomi Nation and lives in Tennessee. Her business career has focused on helping companies support their most valued asset – their employees — through culture development and health care strategies.

She currently is the National Director of Partnerships at Hinge Health, the world’s most complete Digital Musculoskeletal Clinic for back and joint pain, leading partnership collaboration. Previously, she developed the Consulting Practice with Limeade, an employee engagement company that builds great places to work by improving well-being and strengthening workplace culture. Kathy started her career with Johnson & Johnson and HealthFitness, working on health, fitness and well-being approaches, contributing to these companies’ winning national awards and creating a sustainable industry.

She is an active member and previous co-chair of the Health Enhancement Research Organization and a national presenter and speaker on topics including the importance of well-being, employee engagement and organizational support.

 

Lisa Witt

Board Member

Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is The Kwek Society’s woman on the ground in New Mexico, the site of many of our partnerships. Lisa is the Marketing Manager and Owner of Quilted Care Ltd Co. that oversees, with husband Tom, senior living communities in New Mexico, Texas and Nevada. She is Board President of the David Specter Shalom House, a HUD-financed low-income community for seniors, and a member of the Rotary Club of Albuquerque.

 Lisa previously owned Avista Video Histories and, earlier, served as the Chief Economist, Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State and as Senior Budget Analyst, International Affairs Division, Office of Management and Budget, while living in Washington, D.C. Lisa graduated with a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is married to Tom and has two adult children.

 

Tesia Zientek

Board Member

Tesia Zientek

Tesia Zientek is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal citizen. With financial help from a prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 2009 with her Bachelor of Arts in English. After graduation, Tesia spent two years teaching and running an afterschool program in Puerto Rico before pursuing her passion for education through graduate study.

In 2013, she graduated with her Master of Arts in Education Policy from Stanford University. To celebrate her educational achievements, Tesia has received the Howard Yackus Memorial Award and the NextGen 30 Under 30. In October 2015, she became the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s first Director for its new Education Department, which aims to prepare for the next seven generations by helping tribal members identify and reach their educational goals regardless of age or location. She serves as Vice President on the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA) and on the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education (OCIE) board.

Since 2012, Tesia has also served as Potawatomi Leadership Program Advisor, helping to restructure and implement curriculum for the Harvard Honoring Nations Award-winning internship program.