During the formation of the Native American Rights Fund, a governing board was assembled composed of Indian leaders from across the country—wise and distinguished people who were respected by Indians nationwide. Since inception, the NARF Board of Directors has continued to provide the organization their leadership, wisdom, and vision.
Lacey A. Horn, Board Chair; Cherokee Nation
Lacey Horn, Cherokee Nation, is the CEO of Native Advisory LLC, a strategic and financial consulting firm serving tribal leaders. She previously served as Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation from 2011-2019. In that capacity, she managed the finances of the largest federally-recognized tribe in the United States.
In 2015, Ms. Horn was appointed to the US Department of Treasury’s Tribal Advisory Committee of which she serves as Chairwoman. The Native American Finance Officers Association selected Ms. Horn as “Executive of the Year” in 2014 and she appeared in Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list in 2012.
In 2017, she received the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award for her achievements, outstanding character, and good citizenship.
Ms. Horn earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2004 and Master of Science in accounting in 2005 from SMU and began her career with Hunt Oil and KPMG Chicago as an auditor.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2021)
Kenneth Kahn, Vice-Chair; Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Kenneth Kahn, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, was first elected to serve on the Business Committee of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in March 2003. He was elected Tribal Chairman in April 2016.
He comes from a family that has a tradition of involvement in tribal politics. His grandmother, grandfather, and father all served on the tribe’s Business Committee at one time. His mother currently serves on the tribe’s Education Committee.
Chairman Kahn was employed by the Chumash Casino, where he worked in the auditing department.
He is interested in focusing his efforts on educating the tribe’s youth and also on instilling a renewed sense of pride in tribal membership.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2021)
Derek Valdo, Treasurer; Pueblo of Acoma
Derek Valdo, Pueblo of Acoma,
Since 2005, Mr. Valdo has served as a councilman for his tribe, the Pueblo of Acoma, and continues to fulfill his appointment. In addition, he also participates on the Acoma Business Enterprises Board of Directors, the National Indian Child Welfare Association Board of Directors, and the Notah Begay III Foundation Board of Directors.
In 2012, Mr. Valdo became the Chief Executive Officer of AMERIND Risk, the only 100 percent tribally-owned and operated insurance company, that provides property, liability, workers compensation and employee benefits. Mr. Valdo led AMERIND Risk to its best five years of financial performance.
Mr. Valdo’s numerous accolades reflect his vision and leadership. Mr. Valdo has been named to Indian Country Media Network’s esteemed list of 50 Faces of Indian Country, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s 40 Under 40, and among Albuquerque Business First’s Top 10 CEOs. Mr. Valdo attended Stanford University and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics with a minor in Management cum laude from the University of New Mexico.
(Spring 2018 – Spring 2022)
Michael Smith, Executive Committee Member; Chickasaw Nation
Michael Smith, Chickasaw Nation, serves as Court Advocate for the Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court and is a District Judge for the Sac and Fox Nation. He has a law practice in Norman, OK, with a general practice that concentrates in social security disability law, Indian law, criminal law and family law.
In his court advocate capacity, he practices in areas of guardianship, juvenile matters, domestic matters, family law, and adoption. He also does consulting work on issues of tribal sovereignty, tribal courts, and commercial real estate.
Judge Smith is an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma Law School teaching Tribal Courts and has been adjunct professor in the Native American Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma teaching Tribal Sovereignty. He has made presentations to bar associations and conferences nationwide. He joined the faculty at the National Judicial College in 2010.
In 2012, Judge Smith traveled to Columbia University Law School to present and serve on a panel for colloquial on integrating Indian law into the courses at Rutgers, Columbia University, and Yale. Also in 2012, he presented Peacemaking and Native issues to students and faculty of Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO. Judge Smith assisted the Mohegan Nation with incorporating peacemaking into their court system and facilitated the Red Hook, NJ, court system’s use of peacemaking.
Most recently, Judge Smith was a member of a Native American Law Student Association panel for the Federal Bar.
(Spring 2015 – Spring 2021)
Camille K. Kalama, Alternate Executive Committee; Native Hawaiian
Camille Kalama, Native Hawaiian, is a staff attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC). Her family comes from Kailua, Oahu, and she now calls Waiawa Makai on Oahu her home.
Ms. Kalama sees her work with NHLC to protect and preserve native rights and resources as her kuleana, or responsibility, as a Native Hawaiian. Her current case load includes representing clients seeking access to their kuleana lands, assisting kalo farmers in seeking waters to protect their traditional and customary rights as well as to protect and restore East Maui streams, protecting iwi kupuna, and assisting Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries in resolving various issues with the Department.
She attended the University of Hawai‘i and received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and is a 2005 graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law. She joined NHLC in 2006 after clerking for one year at the Hawaii Supreme Court.
She was involved in the Polynesian Voyaging Society and in 2001 was named NCAA Woman Athlete of the Year for the state of Hawaii.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2021)
Anita Mitchell, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Anita Mitchell, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, is not only the youngest person to be elected to the Muckleshoot Tribal Council in many years, but she is also the tribe’s first attorney. She credits the honor of being elected to growing up in a large family and on the reservation because as one of the oldest granddaughters you learn to take charge of a situation. She then credits and links her academic success to the strength and compassion of all her past tribal leaders because without them the opportunity wouldn’t have been there.
Ms. Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington in 2010, where she double majored in American Indian Studies and Political Science and served as a Student Ambassador for the Office of Minority Affairs. She received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of law in 2013. While in law school, Anita served as the President of the Black Law Student Association, the NEBLSA Upstate NY Sub-Regional Director, and a student attorney for the Elders Law Clinic. Ms. Mitchell also spent a summer in Washington D.C. working as a legal intern at the EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office.
After graduating from law school, Ms. Mitchell moved back home and began working as a staff attorney for Muckleshoot. At Muckleshoot, she briefly worked in the areas of Family Law, Tribal Court jurisdiction, and administrative law before being elected to Council. She is admitted to practice law in Washington State. Ms. Mitchell is currently serving as a Muckleshoot Tribal Council member.
(Fall 2015 – Fall 2021)
Rhonda Pitka, Athabascan/Inupiaq
Rhonda Pitka, Athabascan/Inupiaq, has served as the First Chief of the Beaver Village Council in Alaska since 2011. Prior to her tenure as First Chief, she was a Tribal Administrator of the Beaver Village Council.
Ms. Pitka was a participant in a Native roundtable with President Barack Obama in 2015 where she emphasized the importance of hunting and fishing resources and tribal right tied to those resources. She seeks more tribal co-management projects and a meaningful voice in the subsistence management in Alaska.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Pitka was nominated by members of her community and recognized in 2016 by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development with a “Native American 40 under 40” award for her leadership, initiative and dedication to her community.
Ms Pitka is the former Chairwoman of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, where she facilitated the monthly meetings of and advocated for the ten tribal governments of the Yukon Flats.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2021)
Rebecca Miles, Nez Perce Tribe
Rebecca Miles, Nez Perce Tribe, has served in several leadership positions on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe including General Council Chairman for four terms, which preceded a successful campaign for an elected position on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, where she served as the first woman Chairman for two terms. Since 2009, she has served as Executive Director where she provides executive level management, policy recommendations, and strategic guidance for the Tribe.
Ms. Miles has testified in both the United States Congress and the Idaho State Legislature regarding natural resources, endangered species, and treaty rights issues. She was the lead negotiator for the 2009 Federal Columbia River Power System Accords. With her strengths and background in leadership, negotiation, and communication, Ms. Miles has spent most of her adult life advocating for Indian rights.
Ms. Miles has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Washington State University and a M.A. in Professional Studies – Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.
(Winter 2018 – Winter 2022)
Robert Miguel, Ak-Chin Indian Community
Robert Miguel, Ak-Chin Indian Community, is the Chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community in Maricopa, Arizona.
He has served on the Ak-Chin Tribal Council since 2014 and was first elected as Chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community in 2016. Before serving on the Tribal Council, Chairman Miguel had an almost 30-year career working in various capacities within his Tribe. This includes working with Ak-Chin Farms, as the Director of the Ak-Chin Department of Parks and Recreation and most recently a 17-year stint as a photojournalist for the Tribe’s media publication, the O’odham Runner.
As Chairman and a Council Member, Robert Miguel has focused his energies on expanding educational opportunities for Tribal members, increasing services to the Tribe’s special needs community, and promoting healthy lifestyles for Community members through wellness and recreation programs.
Chairman Miguel also has been a champion of growing and nurturing the Community’s cultural and traditional practices. Chairman Miguel lives on the Ak-Chin Indian Community reservation with his wife Connie and has seven children Robert, Jasmine, Yasmin, Jordyn, Joe, Yvonne and Stella.
Chairman Miguel continues a legacy of service on the Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Council, following in his maternal grandfather Jonas Miguel’s footsteps who previously served as Chairman in the early 1970’s.
(Spring 2018 – Spring 2022)
Jamie Azure, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
Jamie Azure, Kitagasi Kinew (Spotted Eagle), Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, is Chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI). Chairman Azure attended the University of Minnesota and has degrees in Business Management, Advertising and Promotion, and Political Science. He has served on the TMBCI Tribal Council since December 2016 and as the Chair since January 2018. In April 2019, Chairman Azure was unanimously elected Chair of the United Tribes of North Dakota, United Tribes Technical College, and United Tribes Gaming Association.
In January 2019, Chairman Azure spoke to the masses assembled in front of the Lincoln Memorial (Washington, DC) as part of the Indigenous Peoples March. His focus was on Native Nations voting rights and the vision of unification of all tribes across this great country.
Chairman Azure owns J. Azure Construction, and as an entrepreneur, he is involved in the community through philanthropic efforts on behalf of his company. J. Azure Construction was one of the first companies to dedicate a percentage of profits to youth organizations in the Turtle Mountains. His involvement with the youth led him to becoming a leader in the community.
Chairman Azure resides in Belcourt, North Dakota, with his wife Denise and two daughters, Ashlyn and Sophia.
(Spring 2019 – Spring 2021)
Gayla Hoseth, Curyung Tribal Council
Gayla Hoseth, Curyung Tribal Council, is an Alaska Native woman and a mother of two living on her ancestral lands in Dillingham, Alaska.
Ms. Hoseth serves as a tribal chief for the Curyung Tribal Council, Director of Natural Resources for Bristol Bay Native Association, Native Co-Chair on the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council, tribal representative on the EPA National Tribal Operations Committee and EPA Region 10 Tribal Operations Committee, At-Large Representative on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Nushagak Advisory Council.
Gayla has a passion for protecting the rights of Alaska Natives and Native Americans and protecting the environment for future generations.
(Spring 2020 – Spring 2022)
Stephanie A. Bryan, Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Stephanie A. Bryan, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, was the first female political leader elected to the position of Tribal Chair and CEO for the Poarch Creek Indians. Elected in 2014 to this position, she is involved with legislative aspects of the Tribe and oversees all tribal operations including tribal government, Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, and PCI Gaming Authority. Previously, she served as Vice-Chair of the Tribal Council.
Chair Bryan has been an active and effective advocate for her Tribe on both a local and national level. As a member of the tribal council, she advocated for extending health insurance and expanding educational opportunities. She also took an active role in ensuring the opening of Poarch’s new health clinic and its assisted living facility. Furthermore, Chair Bryan strongly values and appreciates her elders and believes it is vital to instill the importance of Creek culture and history into the younger generations.
On a national level, Chair Bryan represents her community with her involvement in regulations affecting Indian gaming as well as legislation affecting the Tribe and Indian Country. She has worked with numerous legislative committees as well as multiple Native American organizations such as the National Indian Gaming Commission, National Indian Gaming Association, and United South and Eastern Tribes.
(Spring 2020 – Spring 2022)
Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). As a member of the SMSC Business Council, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the tribal government and its relationships with its members, other governments and elected officials, and its more than 4,000 employees. Ms. Crooks-Stratton also leads Understand Native Minnesota, the tribe’s strategic initiative and philanthropic campaign to improve the Native American narrative in Minnesota’s schools.
Ms. Crooks-Stratton previously served one term on the SMSC Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors and chaired its Audit Committee. She also served two terms on the SMSC Gaming Commission and worked for the tribal government in administration roles from 2007-2016.
Throughout her career Ms. Crooks-Stratton has been an active member of the broader community. She is the Midwest Area Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians, where she represents tribes in the Midwest. She also serves on Governor Walz’s Education Roundtable, the Minnesota Zoological Board and the University of Minnesota Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Recently she served as program director at the Native Governance Center, a nonprofit that provides leadership development and governance resources to tribal nations in Minnesota and the Dakotas.
(Spring 2020 – Spring 2022)
In 2017, she received a Native American 40 Under 40 award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. She also participated in the Young American Leaders Program at Harvard Business School. Ms. Crooks-Stratton has a master’s degree in tribal administration and governance from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her bachelor’s degree is in American Indian studies and political science from the University of Arizona.