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The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) announced a change in leadership late last week. The nonprofit financial education and networking organization named former Yurok Tribal Leader Susan Masten as its interim executive director, effective June 1.  

As interim executive director, Masten will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, as well as leading its strategic direction. 

NAFOA said it will launch a nationwide search for the next permanent executive director in the coming months. 

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Masten replaces Richard “Rico” Frias, who joined NAFOA in July 2021 as its executive director.  The news release announcing Masten’s appointment made no mention of Frias or the reasons for his departure.  

“I am honored to be entrusted by the Board of Directors with this critically important position,” Masten said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the NAFOA Board, Member Tribes, the staff, and our federal and corporate partners to ensure that we meet today’s challenges and take advantage of the opportunities to secure economic and financial success for all of Indian Country.”

Masten served as chairperson of the Yurok Tribe from 1997 to 2003, and continued for two additional terms as vice-chairperson. 

Around the same time, she served as president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the second woman to serve in the position at that time. During her tenure, her advocacy covered issues such as energy, natural resource management, housing, health, budget allocations, trust reform, digital divide, and sovereignty protection.