Dr. Jonathon A. MeDrano received his PhD in Indigenous health and wellbeing from the University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development. In this research, he explored and assessed historical and cultural dimensions of Indigenous health, specifically physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. His research contains an emic perspective and a lived understanding of specific beliefs and practices of both reservation and urban-based Native American communities.

Dr. MeDrano’s research has been influenced by prior professional and academic experiences, including roles in the EPA, DOI and FAA in which he worked with Native American communities, tribal governments and offices and programs. In these roles, Dr. MeDrano engaged in counseling and educational measurement; supervisory/school management; instruction; and advocacy for diverse populations, including individuals with disabilities, Indigenous, immigrants, first generation and financially stressed students. For example, as Director of the Title VII: Native American Education Program for Chicago Public Schools: Office of Language and Cultural Education (OLCE), Dr. MeDrano coordinated Native American programming, professional development, academic enrichment, and internships related to student and community organization issues. In addition, he provided guidance in the capacity of cultural liaison to the OLCE leadership regarding how to work more effectively with Native American community members. Dr. MeDrano developed and executed a strategic recruitment and retention program to boost enrollment and graduation of Indigenous students. This work was supplemented with the development and enhancement of a Native American Parent Center that encouraged Native American parents and students to become more engaged in the educational process.

Dr. MeDrano continued to be motivated by opportunities to broaden the scholastic base for Indigenous student success in his position in the Native American Support Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). In his professional role, Dr. MeDrano provided counseling and academic support through collaborative efforts with various colleges, offices, programs and centers (Jane Addams College of Social Work, Urban Health Program, Asian American Studies, Office of Academic Enrollment and Services, Office of Special Scholarship Programs, and Disabilities Resource and Women’s Leadership and Resource Centers, etc.); implemented programs/workshops ranging from academic, professional and cultural enrichment to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing for students; and participated as a member on various fellowship and research project selection committees. Dr. MeDrano facilitated students’ transition to, progression in and completion of college life by making himself available as a mentor, and providing cultural, academic, and professional guidance to students in need.

Dr. MeDrano would soon expand his experience by accepting the appointment of Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of South Dakota. In his role, he instructed Disability Awareness & Training and Department of Human Services (DHS) Diversity Awareness & Training for Native American communities of South Dakota, researches and collaborates on a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Black Hills Works: Flutter Productions project concentrating on opportunities for persons with disabilities to be fully included in community performances with performers who do not have a disability, researches and collaborates on disability and health disparities in Native American communities of South Dakota, coordinates/mentors Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement – Undergraduate Program (RISE-UP) students and placement site personnel and researches and spokes on topics such as “Neurodevelopmental Disorder: How to Work with Native American Communities who have Intellectual Disabilities,” “Diverse Cultural Perspective: Disabilities and Indigenous Populations” – Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program and “Diversity & Disability: Working with Native American Communities.”

Dr. MeDrano’s current scholarship pertains to disability and health disparities affecting marginalized populations, including children and youth with disabilities. Specifically, he had collaborated with colleagues from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Temple University and the University of South Dakota to examine violence and adversity among children with disabilities and its impact on health and participation. Their analyses, involving population-based databases, indicated that children with disabilities are at heightened risk of a range of adversities. Moreover, for children with disabilities in the child welfare system, experience of victimization is associated with both higher rates of clinical depression and lower levels of participation in developmentally salient activities. Findings of this work have been published, accepted with revision, and under review from journals such as the American Journal of Occupational Therapy and Research in Developmental Disabilities.

He has extending this line of research to include Indigenous families of children with disabilities. Indigenous children with developmental disabilities experience significant disparities in physical and behavioral health outcomes. He is interested in understanding the role of ACEs in health and healthcare disparities affecting Indigenous children with disabilities and how emerging cultural knowledges and practices/rituals can be utilized to support these families and promote child health and wellbeing. His research would have profound implications for the development of novel targets for health disparities interventions for Indigenous child, youth and young adults with disabilities. In addition, Dr. MeDrano is a research stakeholder looking into Primary Care and Community-Based Prevention of Mental Disorders in Native American Adolescents. Currently, Dr. Medrano is a faculty member in the Department of Child and Youth Study at Mount Saint Vincent University. In conclusion, Dr. MeDrano is an experienced academic, professional and community researcher dedicated to Indigenous communities locally, nationally and internationally.