Carmen O’Leary is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. She has worked toward ending violence against Native women professionally and as a volunteer since 1988. In 1988, she began working in the field as a Children’s Advocate in a shelter, at which she held various other positions over the years. During that time, she served as a co-chair for the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and as a consultant for the Center for Offender Management, Mending the Sacred Hoop, National State Courts and Sacred Circle- National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women.
O’Leary currently serves as the coordinator for the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains, a tribal coalition whose membership consists of Native programs, providing services to women who experience violence, across the northern Great Plains. Her areas of expertise include civil protection orders, children’s issues around domestic violence, and advocacy training for the areas of sexual assault and domestic violence. Other areas of service include: school board member, part time Tribal Magistrate, member of the local Indian Child Welfare Board, the local tribal Child Protection Team, founding member of the Okiciyapi Oti Habitat for Humanity, and current licensed lay advocate for the Cheyenne River Courts.
O’Leary takes pleasure in the occasional rodeo and pow wow, but is happiest at home with her children, family, friends, horses and cows. The changing seasons and openness of the Plains keeps her grounded and enjoying life.