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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].  


The board of directors of Four Directions Development Corporation has appointed Matthew Lewis as its new executive director, succeeding Charlene Virgilio, who will retire in the fall after a period of significant growth for the Maine-based Native CDFI. Lewis, who rejoined FDDC in 2021 as director of operations, has a long history with the organization and a deep commitment to improving the economic and social outcomes for the Wabanaki Tribes. His leadership experience at both FDDC and MaineStream Finance makes him well-equipped to propel the organization's mission forward, according to a statement. Lewis officially began his role on June 3, 2024, with Virgilio assisting in the transition until her retirement in October.

Carly Griffith Hotvedt (Cherokee Nation), J.D., M.P.A., has been appointed as the interim executive director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) following the resignation of Erin Parker, J.D., L.L.M., effective May 31, 2024. Parker, who served as executive director since 2020, is joining the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service as a tribal affairs technical advisor. She leaves behind a legacy of work, including the establishment of the Model Tribal Food and Agriculture Code project and the Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit. Griffith Hotvedt, who joined IFAI in 2019 and has been instrumental in its growth and expansion, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role.

The Wind River Development Fund (WRDF) has appointed Lisa Wagner as its new chief financial officer. Wagner, a prominent figure in the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry, previously served as WRDF's founding executive director from 2001 to 2009. With her extensive industry knowledge and strategic expertise, Wagner is poised to further advance WRDF's mission of economic development and self-sufficiency on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Wagner, who holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, owns Bluestem Consulting. In addition to her CFO responsibilities at WRDF, she will continue to serve as an independent consultant for the CDFI industry. 

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The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have appointed tribal member Colista Matsaw as the new CEO of the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel, effective May 23, 2024. With over 25 years in the gaming and hospitality industry, Matsaw brings extensive experience and a strong educational background to her new role, where she will oversee daily operations, strategic planning, and regulatory compliance for the casino hotel. Prior to joining the casino hotel, Matsaw operated her own consulting business and served as a Statewide Business Advisor for the Idaho Women’s Business Center’s Idaho Connect Program. In addition, she was a Programs Coordinator with the Oweesta Corporation, a Native-owned non-profit organization dedicated to serving indigenous communities across the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has hired Hannah Brennan to work as an attorney advisor for the Indian Health Service. Brennan joins IHS from the National Indian Health Board, where she served as a senior policy analyst focused on Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Brennan has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and  law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law, where she specialized in health law.  

The California Tribal College Board of Regents voted Dr. Juliet Maestas to serve as the next president of the school. Dr. Maestas is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and a descendent of the Yurok Tribe. She received her education doctorate from California State University Sacramento. Her research includes Tribal Culture Endurance and Postsecondary Aspirations among Rural reservation California Native American high school students. She holds a master’s in higher education leadership from California State University Sacramento and a bachelor's degree in Native American studies from the University of California Davis.


Leslie Wheelock has been named to serve on the board of trustees of Cornell University. Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin, will be the first Native American to serve as a trustee at the Ithaca, N.Y.-based university.  She operates Wheelock Consulting, PLLC, a firm that specializes in tribal legal, business, and management consulting in areas including federal policy and administrative law, historic preservation, and environmental justice. She is a member of the board of Oneida ESC Group, a tribal 8 corporation. Previously, she served as director of the Office of Tribal Relations at the USDA during the Obama administration and also worked as director of economic policy at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).  Wheelock has a law degree and masters of business administration from Cornell, and a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University. 

Melissa Powless-Chacon has joined the board of directors of nonprofit Rematriation, a multi-media initiative engaged in film production, digital content creation, and community engagement. Powless-Chacon is a member of the Oneida Nation Turtle Clan of Wisconsin. She is a cause-driven organizational change and development consultant and a certified community transformational coach based in California. Her work includes working with nonprofits, schools, tribes, and philanthropic communities on a wide range of issues affecting Native American youth, families, and communities.

Former Oregon Governor Kate Brown has been named president of the Willamette Falls Trust, following a national search. Brown will lead the non-profit in the next phase of the Willamette Falls Inter-Tribal Public Access Project, which aims to restore public access to the Falls, a site sacred to Pacific Northwest Tribes. The project includes public walkways, cultural events, and Indigenous-led design. Brown served as the 38th Governor of Oregon from 2015 to 2023. Her career in public service spans three decades, including two terms as Oregon Secretary of State, three terms in the Oregon House and three terms in the Oregon Senate.