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Here’s our monthly round-up of people on the move in Indian Country, including a bevy of board appointments, recognition of Native leaders, and new hires at tribal enterprises and Native-serving nonprofits.  

If you have news of new hires or special recognition, please share them with [email protected].  


Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation (ATNI-EDC) has elevated Casey Pearlman to the position of executive director, following the resignation of Stacey McQuade-Eger, who left the organization last week due to family obligations. Pearlman has worked at ATNI-EDC for roughly two-and-a-half years, most recently as its director of business development. During that time, she led the organization’s outreach on the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) efforts, including a coalition of 25 tribes that were awarded a total of $21.3 million.  Pearlman is a graduate of Portland State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management and Human Resource Management.  

Alaska Pacific University hired Allison Knox as its chief advancement officer, with responsibility for fundraising strategy, alumni relations, corporate and foundation relations, sponsored programs, and major gifts. An Alaska Native of Athabascan heritage, Knox worked in the Alaska Native healthcare system and for Alaska Native corporations and nonprofit organizations over the past 30 years, mainly in public relations and strategic communications.

The University of Colorado at Boulder has hired Benny Shendo, Jr., a member of the Jemez Pueblo, as its first-ever Associate Vice Chancellor for Native American Affairs. Over the years, Shendo has served in different capacities of management and leadership in business, tribal, university, and state government. He was elected chairman of the board of First Nations Development Institute in 2016, and also served as a project director for the Native Community Foundation for New Mexico; a New Mexico Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Indian Affairs; 1st and 2nd Lieutenant Governor of the Pueblo of Jemez; and Assistant Dean of students at Stanford University. 


Command Holdings, an economic development company owned by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, appointed Aurene Martin to its board of directors. Martin brings a depth of experience in federal Indian law, government, and industry to the Mashantucket, Conn.-based federal contracting firm.  Martin has served in prominent government roles, including as Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior and Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate, Committee on Indian Affairs. Her extensive tribal experience includes positions with the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and as a consultant to multiple Native American governments. Currently, Martin is the founder and managing partner of Spirit Rock, LLC.

Tribal Diagnostics LLC, a Native-owned company that provides high-quality, affordable lab tests, announced the appointment of Gary Huff to its board of directors. Huff is the former CEO of Labcorp Diagnostics and brings more than three decades of experience in the diagnostics industry to Oklahoma City-based Tribal Diagnostics. Huff led the largest laboratory in the world and a Fortune 500 company through periods of significant growth and innovation.

American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association CEO Sherry L. Rupert has been appointed to serve on the board of directors of the U.S. Travel Association for the 2024-2025 term, marking her second term. As the CEO of the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural tourism in Native Nations and communities across the United States, Rupert has more than two decades of executive-level experience managing and promoting Indigenous tourism. She is the leading voice of advocacy for the $15.7 billion Indigenous hospitality sector of travel and tourism in the U.S.

Gun Lake Investments, the economic development arm of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, appointed Forrest Cox and Allard Teeple to its board of directors. Cox brings a diverse range of experiences, having worked at the White House, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Nike and Cherokee Nation Businesses. Teeple, a senior portfolio manager at Huntington Bank, has extensive experience in commercial banking, having also worked for nearly eight years at KeyBank. 

NAFOA, a nonprofit founded as the Native American Finance Officers Association, elected Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, as the new president of its board of directors. Butler, who has chaired his tribe since 2010, brings “extensive experience and a profound commitment to Tribal economic stability and growth to his new role,” according to a statement. 

The longtime president of the Alaska Federation of Natives has been nominated by Alaska’s congressional delegation to serve as the co-chair of the Denali Commission, which provides oversight of a variety of federal programs in the state. Julie Kitka has served as president of AFN, the largest Alaska Native organization, since 1990, though she plans to step down this year.  The Denali Commission, which was established by Congress, is an international federal agency that provides infrastructure and interagency economic support in rural Alaska.


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation announced that Violet Sage Walker, chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, will be honored with its Sanctuary Wavemaker Award during its June 4 gala in Washington, D.C. Walker’s late father, Chief Fred Collins, would also be honored with special recognition. This year’s Gala will honor Chair Walker and Chief Collins’ leading roles in the effort to designate a new Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary on the Central Coast of California. The Chumash Sanctuary is targeted for a mid-2024 designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).