Derrick Watchman is President/Owner of Sagebrush Hill Group LLC (a Navajo Priority #1 company and SBA HUBZone Certified small business) that provides gaming, banking, finance, and economic development services. Derrick is a member of the Navajo Nation and was raised on the Navajo reservation. He is the former Chief Executive Officer for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, the gaming operator for the Navajo Nation casinos. Formerly, he was the Chief Financial Officer for Navajo Gaming. Prior he was Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at JP Morgan Chase Bank’s Native American Banking Group. He provided tribal financial and banking services, including structuring millions in tribal credit transactions and treasury services. Derrick also held the Tribal Affairs Director post at the U.S. Department of Energy. He also worked for Wells Fargo Bank managing Native American banking. Derrick was Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of the Navajo Nation’s Dinè Power Authority where he managed Navajo Nation energy projects. He also held the Navajo Tax Director post. Mr. Watchman also worked with Prudential Capital Corporation as a private placement banker. Among several directorships, Derrick is Chairman of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development board of directors and Vice Chairman of the Native American Band Corporation Board. Mr. Watchman holds a MBA from the University of California and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona.
Burton WarringtonVice Chairman
Burton W. Warrington – Menominee, Prairie Band Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk currently serves as the President of Indian Ave Group (IAG), a collective of family owned companies and President of Menomini yoU, a non profit focused on community language and cultural revitalization. Mr. Warrington’s career includes a unique mix of legal, business, management and policy experience.
Mr. Warrington is a licensed attorney who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration – Tribal Management from Haskell Indian Nations University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kansas School of Law, where he also received his Tribal Lawyer Certificate.
Forest County Potawatomi tribal member, Kip Ritchie, serves as Chief Operations Officer of the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation. Prior to being promoted to COO, Kip served as President of Greenfire Management Services, LLC—a subsidiary of the PBDC—since 2014. Ritchie joined PBDC full time in 2006 as Senior Vice President and served on its founding Board of Directors from 2002-2007. Guided by the objectives of PBDC and its tribal philosophy and values, Kip provided outstanding leadership for Greenfire, drives the vision and strategic planning, and played a major role in networking and business development. During his tenure as President, the company has received dozens of awards including Fastest Growing Firm, Diversity in Business, Top Construction Company, Newsmaker of the Year, Largest Minority-Owned Company, and a Cream of the Cream City Award, among others. Throughout his career with the Forest County Potawatomi, Ritchie promotes the importance of investing in the tribe’s future by diversifying resources beyond gaming. Ritchie’s career in Indian Country began in 1997 when he joined Potawatomi Hotel & Casino as Director of Marketing. He was promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2002.
Ritchie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Ritchie serves on the following Boards; National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Froedtert Hospital & Medical College Foundation, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce—Council of Small Business Executives, New Mexico Community Capital (Board Chair), NUMU, Inc.—the economic development arm of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Gun Lake Investments—the economic development arm of the Gun Lake Potawatomi Tribe. Since 1999, Kip has served as the Chairman of the Forest County Potawatomi Community Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Kip resides in Pewaukee, Wisconsin with his wife and two children.
Helvi Sandvik is the President of Kidways, LLC., a management consulting firm that focuses on strategic planning, business development and execution, serving indigenous and non-indigenous clients across the US and internationally.
Helvi has over 30 years of Executive Management and Board experience in the non-profit, public, and private sectors. For 17 years she served as President and CEO of NANA Development Corporation, an Alaska Native Owned Corporation. She was responsible for leading a management team and overseeing the growth of the company. Through the successful execution of its business strategy, NANA operations eventually extended from above the Arctic Circle to Australia; to 50 states, nine countries and four continents.
Prior to joining NANA, Helvi spent 12 years with the State of Alaska Department of Transportation where she served as a transportation system planner, Director of Statewide Aviation, and Deputy Commissioner.
Helvi is originally from the northwest Alaska village of Kiana. She is a shareholder of NANA Regional Corporation, and a tribal member of the Native Village of Kiana. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Kalamazoo College in Michigan, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
She currently is a director of the publicly traded, Alaska Air Group, and its subsidiaries, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines, as well as HDR, Inc., an employee owned architectural and engineering firm with 225 locations around the globe. She is a past commissioner of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, former chair and board member of the Seattle branch board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and former chair and board member of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. She has served as a board member of the Native American Contractors Association, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, the Alaska Energy Authority, and United Way of Anchorage. For 16 years she also served as an advisor and Trustee for the Aqqaluk Trust, a non-profit organization that supports educational scholarships, Iñupiaq language revitalization, and cultural sustainability of the northwest Arctic Region.
Helvi has received numerous awards in recognition of her professional and personal achievements.
Chris JamesPresident and CEO
Chris James is the President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the largest business development and technical assistance training organization in the country for American Indian and Alaska Native-owned businesses. A former Associate Administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury official, Mr. James has doubled the National Center’s revenue during his tenure, expanding procurement and training programs throughout the country while boosting attendance to the annual Reservation Economic Summit by nearly 30% in the last five years.
Mr. James manages a team of nearly 30 staff and contractors based in seven offices across the country, all focused on enhancing the resilience of small and medium enterprises, promoting holistic community planning, and supporting tribal governments and small business owners in developing a strategic approach to economic development.
Fostering strong relationships with supplier diversity offices at Fortune 500 companies such as Lockheed Martin, Nike, Google, Square Inc; Northup Grumman, Alaska Airlines, Microsoft and IBM, the National Center has grown the number of businesses it supports from 200 per year, to more than 1,000.
Mr. James also leads the National Center’s advocacy work, coordinating with allies and tribal governments to hold local, state, and federal government officials accountable and constructively promoting policy changes that support access to capital and resources for small business incubation and growth. Under his leadership, the National Center has launched a Native Edge Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and the National Center now boasts over $4 billion in procurement it has helped National Center clients secure.
From 2011 – 2016, Mr. James was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Associate Administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where he led the Office of Field Operations, and the Office of Native American Affairs, and where he established the SBA’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Managing a workforce of over 800 people with an annual operating budget of more than $200 million, Mr. James oversaw programs and services that affected all 50 states and every U.S. territory, and served as a liaison to domestic and international corporate partners and stakeholders. Mr. James was also the officer on record for Tribal Consultation.
Among his accomplishments at SBA was the creation of Startup in a Day, which worked with cities and Native American communities to create streamlined platforms to allow entrepreneurs to apply for all relevant business permits in an expedited manner. Mr. James was also the agency lead on the SupplierPay program, which worked with nearly 50 Fortune 500 companies to speed up payments to suppliers.
Prior to SBA, Mr. James was an Associate Program Manager at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2009-2011, serving as a liaison between the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, Native American tribal governments, and other federal government agencies. During his tenure at Treasury, he approved over $120 million dollars in funding to deserving applicants, and helped grow the number of certified Native CDFIs by 30%.
John Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, was a co‐founder of the Native American Rights Fund in 1970 and has been its Executive Director since 1977. The Native American Rights Fund has been involved in most of the major Indian rights litigation since 1970. He serves on many national boards and has received numerous service awards and other recognition for his leadership in the Indian law field. In 1992, he served on the Clinton‐Gore transition team for the Department of the Interior and in 2008 he served on the Obama‐Biden transition team for the Department of the Interior. B.A., University of New Mexico (1967); J.D., University of New Mexico (1970); admitted to practice law in Colorado.
Joel Frank Sr.Director
Joel Frank, Sr. was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and raised on federal reservation lands of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Joel M. Frank, Sr. has dedicated his career to the furtherance of economic prosperity and the protection of stable government for American Indians. As a national figure in American Indian affairs, Mr. Frank has earned a reputation for integrity and accomplishment as an advocate and spokesman for Indigenous peoples worldwide. Joel Frank, Sr. was one of the first Indians to attend college, at both Dade Community College and St. Thomas University.
Mr. Frank spent two years in the United States Marine Corps, assigned to special classified security duty, both in the United States and overseas.
Margo Gray is President of Margo Gray & Associates. She received her education at Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK and the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. In addition to many state and local activities, she currently serves as a Board member for the American Indian Business Network Board Member for National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). She also an active member of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations. Margo has been keynote speaker for numerous conferences across the U.S, advocating for Native American businesses.
Gray is proud Osage business woman who has built a profitable business in a traditionally male industry. Her leadership and determination has won her numerous prestigious honors and awards and including been selected as The Journal Record’s “50 Making a Difference” recognizing Oklahoma’s leading Women. Ms. Proctor also received the “Badger Award for Tenacity and Perseverance in Business” by the American Indian Business Leaders Association and the “Georgeann Robinson Humanitarian Award” presented by the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women. Her flagship company, Horizon Engineering Services Co., was the 2007 recipient of the “State Business of the Year” award bestowed by the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, 2005 recipient of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Indian Business Owner of the Year award, the2004 recipient of the National Indian Business Association’s Outstanding National Native American Woman‐Owned Business award and many other honors, and has been featured in http://www.workingwomen.com and “Smart Women Take Risks,” a book by Helene Learner.
Her background includes many years in tribal law enforcement and tribal government services. She is active in her Osage culture and holds the position of Head Cook at the “Jenny Gray Chapter” of the Native American church, a high honor for a woman in her Osage culture.
As a strong competitor in “Corporate America”, she encourages Indian entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams, and counsels tribal leaders to create government and legal environments that will enable Indian businesses to thrive. She married to Adam Proctor and resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is very proud of her 3 sons and 7 grandchildren.
William D. LoweDirector
Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council Representative Okmulgee District
Clan: Bird “Fvswvlke”
Church: Tuskegee Indian Baptist Church
Tribal Town: Nuyaka
Family: My wife is Elsa Lowe, of Weleetka, OK, and we have three beautiful daughters, Ashlyn, Jadyn, and Kaci. My parents are the late Jonas “Rusty” Lowe of Tulsa, OK and May Marshall of Eufaula, OK.
– Associates in Business Administration, Bacone College
– Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Bacone College
– Master’s in Business Administration, Grand Canyon
– Certified Travel Industry Specialist
– Certified Fundraising Manager
– Certified Life Coach
Experience: I served in the United States Marine Corps from September 1993 to May 2002. I have over 20 years of experience in governance, management, tribal business development, and negotiating government and tribal contracts. I’ve had the opportunity to work and partner with several tribal governments across the state. The experiences I endured while working with tribal entities have taught me the importance of being a sovereign nation and advocating for all our citizens. I currently serve as the Human Resources Director of Bacone College and serve on the boards of the National Center for the American Indian Enterprise Development, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, Five Civilized Tribes Museum, Okmulgee Lions Club Second Vice President, and the Okmulgee County YMCA.
Lynn Dee RappDirector
Lynn Dee Rapp, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is a managing partner of SeaCrest Investment Management, a native/minority owned investment firm specializing in providing financial solutions for American Indian Tribes and institutional clients.
She is the founding member of EAGLE OPPORTUNITY, a marketing and consulting firm which supports the “BUY NATIVE” program.
Lynn retired as a Senior Vice President and a Registered Wealth Advisor for Morgan Stanley. While with Morgan Stanley, she managed accounts for many American Indian Tribes and their affiliates. She holds a BS degree in Administration and is a Registered Nurse. In addition, Lynn completed the graduate program on the Critical Elements of Consulting at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lynn is a former chairperson of the National Congress of American Indian’s Finance and Investment Committee and was a long term board member of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. She has provided educational programs for the National Indian Gaming Association, the National Indian Education Association, Oweesta, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the Native American Finance Officers Association, Aboriginal Finance Officers Association (Canada), and the IMN Native American Finance Conference. She is currently on the Board of the American Indian College Fund and the American Indian Business Leaders Assn.
Active in her local community, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Rapid Loan Fund (an economic development loan program for Rapid City, SO.) Lynn is a member of the National Congress of American Indians, the advisory committee for the “Prudent Practices for Native American Investment Advisors” project and was a member of the International Habitat for Humanity’s American Indian Board. She is also a member of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force for socially responsible investing, is on the board of the American Indian Business Leaders Association and serves on the Board of the American Indian College Fund.
In addition, she is a board member of Wellspring, a therapeutic program for adolescents and is a member of the Board for the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health. Lynn served on the Advisory Board of Rainwater Medical, a Mayo Clinics (Rochester, Minnesota) enterprise created to provide remote access medical care to Tribal Nations.
Lynn has homes at Prairie Island Indian Community in Minnesota and in Buffalo Gap, South
Dakota (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation) and offices in Purchase, NY and Rapid City, SD.
Charlie Galbraith is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and Co-Chair of the Native American practice group at Jenner & Block LLP. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Galbraith served in the Obama White House as Deputy Associate Counsel for Presidential Personnel and as Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where he managed the relationship of the White House with all Tribal Governments and Native American people. Before working for the White House, Mr. Galbraith served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, and as a Legislative Assistant for United States Senator Tim Johnson in his Washington, D.C. Senate Office. He also worked for then-Senator Barack Obama during his first campaign for President by organizing the Native American Domestic Policy Committee, which comprised a nationwide group of tribal leaders and activists. When not at work Charlie enjoys being outdoors and can often be found running, cycling, mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking and playing basketball and baseball.
Lillian Sparks RobinsonDirector
Lillian Sparks Robinson is the CEO and Owner of Wopila Consulting, LLC, an American Indian and woman owned small business that provides a wide range of specialized consulting and strategic development services to federal, state, and tribal government clients.
A member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Lillian has worked in Washington, D.C. for nearly 20 years, devoting her career to supporting the educational pursuits of Native American students, protecting the rights of indigenous people, and empowering tribal communities. In 2010, Lillian was appointed by President Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, to serve as the Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans. In this role, she worked on programs and policy impacting Native languages and education, social development, and economic development for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Prior to her service at ANA, Lillian served as the Executive Director of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), where she worked extensively on education policy and appropriations impacting American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students. A former staff attorney at the National Congress of American Indians, Lillian has received numerous awards and recognition, including being named as one of seven young Native American Leaders by USA Today Magazine, one of “40 Under 40” from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, and American Indian Woman of the Year.
A graduate of Morgan State University and Georgetown University Law Center, Lillian resides in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband, Corey and son, Connor.
Ernie Stevens, Jr.Director
Ernie Stevens, Jr. is the Chairman and national spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in Washington, DC. Stevens is currently serving his fifth two-year term as the organization’s leader. NIGA, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of 184 Indian Nations with other non- voting associate members representing tribes and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country.
From 1993 to 1999 Stevens served as an elected councilman for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. He is a former First Vice-President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). As a respected leader in Indian Country, Stevens also serves on the Native American Rights Fund National Support Committee (NARF), is a Board Member of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), and serves on the Native American Advisory Board of the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Stevens is the co-founder for Dreamseekers Foundation of American along with Hulk Hogan to provide contributions to tribal nations that face adversities such as poverty, violence and lack of various resources, specifically focusing on efforts to improve health care and education for Native youth and their families. Stevens has earned an Associate’s degree from Haskell Indian Nations University, in Lawrence, Kansas and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Mount Senario College in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. He is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.
He and his wife Cheryl of 30 years have five children, and their 9th grandchild was born on Christmas Day 2008.
Ronald J. SolimonDirector
Ron Solimon is the President & CEO of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Inc., a state-chartered not for profit corporation, and Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc., a federally-chartered for profit corporation. Both corporations are owned & operated by the 19 Pueblo Indian tribes of New Mexico and headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ron is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna Indian Tribe of New Mexico. Ron earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from New Mexico State University in 1973 and a Juris Doctor degree from the University Of New Mexico School Of Law in 1976.
Ron serves on several national, state and local boards and commissions, including the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Walking Shield, the New Mexico Workforce Development Board, the New Mexico Commission on Community Volunteerism, the Tourism Association of New Mexico (TANM), the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), the Laguna Development Corporation (LDC), and the newly-formed Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation.
Ron’s wife Elaine is the Executive Director of ARC A in Albuquerque, New Mexico -a not for profit organization that serves people with disabilities. They have two grown children. Their daughter Kristin is a licensed physical therapist who lives and works in Tucson, Arizona where her husband Judah is a first year resident in orthopedic surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Their son Justin is an attorney with the Nordhaus Law Firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico where his wife Lucy is a third year law student at the University Of New Mexico School Of Law.
Joan Timeche is executive director of the Udall Center’s Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy (NNI) at the University of Arizona. NNI serves as a self-determination, development, and self-governance resource for Native nations in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.
Ms. Timeche has more than twenty years experience working for or with tribal governments in education, business and economic development, and governance. Her skills include administrative management, teaching, is a master facilitator, and is a regular speaker at both regional, national and international conferences on topics related to Indian economic development and tourism. She assisted in the start-up of the Arizona Native American Economic Coalition, the Arizona American Indian Tourism Association where she continues to serve on the board, and the American Indian/Alaska Native Tourism Association. Ms. Timeche also served on boards of two new tribal economic development corporations – the Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation from 2005-2009 and since 2001 on the Tohono O’odham Economic Development Authority. She authored “Doing Business on Arizona Indian Lands;” and founded the Native American Youth Entrepreneur Camp which received the ‘RES 2006 Native American Youth Entrepreneurship of the Year’ award.
Past employment has included: NNI Assistant Director (2001 to 2009); program director of Northern Arizona University’s Center for American Indian Economic Development (1992 to 2000); and director of the Hopi Tribe’s Education Department (1982 to 1990). She currently serves as board member of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development; directs NNI’s Native American Youth Governance Camp; and in November 2010, received the 2010 Native American Recognition Days award for “Woman of the Year.”
A citizen of the Hopi Tribe from the village of Old Oraibi, she received a B.S. in social work and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Northern Arizona University.
Jana has been President & CEO of Leisnoi since 2015. Prior to becoming CEO, she was the Chairwoman of the Board of Leisnoi from 2011-2015. Leisnoi is an Alaska Native Village Corporation with business sectors in commercial operations, federal government contracting, land management, and real estate. Prior to joining Leisnoi, Jana served as V.P. of Legal Affairs & General Counsel for Ahtna, Inc. from 2011-2015 and as Sr. V.P. of Corporate Affairs for Afognak Native Corporation from 2005-2011. Prior to working for Alaska Native Corporations, Jana worked for many years for the Kodiak Area Native Association, a tribal non-profit organization that provides health & social services to the native community in Kodiak, Alaska. Jana currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association. She previously served on the Tangirnaq Native Village Council, the Koniag Board of Directors & Shareholder Committee, and as co-chair for the Alaska Native Law section of the Alaska Bar Association.
As a lifelong Alaskan, Jana was born and raised in Kodiak, Alaska. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Government & International Studies from the University of Notre Dame and her juris doctorate from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Jana is on-track as a candidate for her Certificate of Professional Development from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School, Aresty Institute of Executive Education.
Jana is Alutiiq and a shareholder of Koniag Regional Corporation and Leisnoi Village Corporation. She is a tribal member of the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak and the Tangirnaq Native Village. Together with her husband Rick, who is a longliner/crabber fisherman, they have three children – Brittany, Eli, and Tia.
“We Mean Business”
For over 50 years, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development has been helping Indian tribes and businesses gain access to economic opportunity and growth. Thanks to your support, NCAIED is now the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation, and we’re continuing to work towards improving the lives of all American Indian people both now and for generations to come.Watch this video