NCAIED Board Of DirectorsThe Dedicated Individuals Serving The National Center For American Indian Enterprise Development
Derrick Watchman is the Chief Executive Officer for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. Formerly 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 over $500 million in tribal credit transactions and treasury services. Derrick is a member of the Navajo Nation and was raised on the Navajo reservation. Derrick was principal with Watchman & Associates of Window Rock, Arizona providing business advisory and development services. He is formerly the Chief of Staff for the Navajo Nation where he managed the Executive Branch program and services.
Mr. Watchman has also served as Director of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy. Previously, he worked for the Wells Fargo Bank handling Native American banking and financing. Mr. Watchman was Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of the Navajo Nation’s Dinè Power Authority where he advised on Navajo Nation energy projects. He also held the Navajo Tax Commission Director post. Mr. Watchman also worked with Prudential Capital Corporation as a private placement banker. Among several directorships, he is the current chairman of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Board of Directors. Mr. Watchman holds a MBA from the University of California and a Bachelors degree from the University of Arizona.
Patricia (Pat) Parker’s career as a successful government contractor begins with her dedication to her community. Her leadership and business acumen stem from an accomplished history of service to guarantee positive results for not only her Federal clientele but also the community at large.
Her ability to grow NAMS from one small contract to a company that has routinely pushed the boundaries of its $7M size standard comes from personal knowledge of her market…both upstream and downstream. With a background in communications, she quickly rose during her tenure with Indian Health Service. She became Director for Communications where she managed the Indian Health Service’s newly established communications arm. During that time she became well acquainted with how federal contracts are administered from a project officer and contracting officer representative’s perspective and it was this experience that led her to the foundation of NAMS with her sister Tonya Parker.
Pat never strayed from her belief that, when doing business with the federal government, the business bottom line must be balanced with the philosophy of service and dedication to public service. She represents NAMS’ abilities to government officials, leaders of private and non-profit corporations and American Indian and Alaska Native leaders. She maintains a dedication to giving back to her community with the same passion and energy that she brings to her federal clients.
Pat’s diverse education includes attendance at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa University’s School of the Dramatic Arts and the University of Maryland, where she studied theatre, journalism and public relations. Her studies and experience in journalism, public relations and theater combined with her desire to create a venue to provide contemporary messages and images of American Indian people was the catalyst for producing Windows to Our Ways. Windows to Our Ways was a public service program dedicated to promoting the diverse culture of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The show was produced at and aired on Fairfax Public Access Television. Pat believes that using most powerful media tool to communicate, educate and entertain, from an American Indian point of view, will not only bring a greater understanding of the culture but also provide a platform for Indian unity. The community based programming was largely underwritten by Pat and her sister Tonya.
President | Greenfire Management Services, LLC
Forest County Potawatomi tribal member, Kip Ritchie, serves as President of Greenfire Management Services, LLC—a subsidiary of the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation (PBDC) located in Milwaukee, WI. Prior to his appointment as President of Greenfire, Ritchie served as Interim CEO/COO, for the PBDC. He is a founding member and served on its Board of Directors from 2003-2008. Prior to his appointment as COO in 2009, Kip served as Senior VP for the PBDC for four years.
Ritchie’s career in Indian Country began in 1997 when he joined Potawatomi Bingo Casino as Director of Marketing and was later promoted to Assistant General Manager.
Ritchie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. In addition to serving on the Board of the National Center for American Indian Economic Development, Kip serves on the Board of Directors for the Native American Contractors Association, Children’s Health Alliance, Froedtert Hospital Foundation, Blue Stone Strategy Group, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, New Mexico Community Capital, Northern Lights Community Development and Mno Bmadsen Corporation—the economic development arm of the Pokagon 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.
Urban was born in the village of Santa Cruz and grew up in Komatke, a village on the north side of the Gila River. He attended St. John’s Indian Mission School at Komatke. He then attended Arizona State University at Tempe, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 1960. Urban served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves as an enlisted man from 1953 to 1960 and as a U.S. Marine Corps officer from 1960 to 1980. He served in command and staff positions in the United States and in foreign countries including Vietnam. He was transferred to the retired officers’ list with the rank of Major in 1980. Urban was selected as Operations Manager of the Gila River Indian Community in 1981 and held that position until 1986 when he was appointed as Community Manager. He retired as Community Manager in February 2006. He continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Lone Butte Industrial Development Corporation, a Tribal Corporation. Urban has been a member of the NCAIED Board of Directors since 1995.
President and CEO
Chris James has served as the President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development since January of 2017. He is responsible for guiding the organization in its day-to-day operations and implementing its longterm strategic initiatives and vision. Prior to joining the National Center, Chris was an Associate Administrator at the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA), worked in Native American Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and managed the Sequoyah Fund – an enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
From 2011 – 2016, Chris served as Associate Administrator at SBA, where he was a Senior Executive Service (SES) appointee of President Barack Obama overseeing both the Office of Field Operations, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Office of Native American Affairs. His extensive portfolio included Native American outreach, program management, and tribal consultation.
While at SBA, Chris’s responsibilities included representing the SBA at White House events and in state, local, and congressional affairs, as well as serving as a liaison to domestic and international corporate partners and stakeholders. He also established and oversaw SBA’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. As the head of the Office of Field Operations, he managed a workforce of over 800 people with an annual operating budget of over $200 million, and worked on programs and services that affected all 50 states and every U.S. territory. He was also the officer on record for Tribal Consultation, and worked with the White House and senior cabinet officials to craft best practices for accomplishing economic development in Native American communities.
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. Over 100 communities took a public pledge agreeing to simplify the business formation requirements for entrepreneurs in their areas. He was also the agency lead on the SupplierPay program, which encouraged private companies to quickly reimburse their suppliers. Nearly fifty Fortune 500 companies took the pledge.
While at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2009-2011, Chris acted as liaison between the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, Native American tribal governments, and other federal government agencies and approved over $120 million dollars in funding to deserving applicants. In part thanks to his leadership, the number of certified Native CDFIs increased by 30%, and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program saw an increase in applicants.
During his time working in the federal government, Chris was an active member of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the White House Rural Council, White House Community Solutions Task Force, and the White House Interagency Group on Insular Affairs.
Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Chris was the Associate Director for the Cherokee, NC-based Sequoyah Fund. While there, he was responsible for the daily operations of the fund, which is a Native American CDFI and an enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He has a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Master of Entrepreneurship from Western North Carolina University.
Mr. James is originally from Cherokee, North Carolina – home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – and is of Cherokee descent. His family has owned small businesses on the Qualla Boundary for more than 50 years. Chris, who is based in the Phoenix metro area, is married and has three school-aged children.
Joel Frank Sr.
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.
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.
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 fornumerous 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 beenselected as The Journal Record’s “50 Making a Difference” recognizing Oklahoma’s leading Women. Ms. Proctoralso received the “Badger Award for Tenacity and Perseverance in Business” by the American Indian BusinessLeaders Association and the “Georgeann Robinson Humanitarian Award” presented by the Oklahoma Federationof Indian Women. Her flagship company, Horizon Engineering Services Co., was the 2007 recipient of the “StateBusiness of the Year” award bestowed by the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, 2005 recipientof 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‐OwnedBusiness award and many other honors, and has been featured in http://www.workingwomen.com and “Smart WomenTake 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, ahigh honor for a woman in her Osage culture.
As a strong competitor in “Corporate America”, she encourages Indian entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams, andcounsels 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
Karlene Hunter is CEO and co-founder of Native American Natural Foods. A member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Ms. Hunter has more than 25 years of experience working on educational and economic development on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where Native American Natural Foods is based. The Kyle, S.D., company, founded with her longtime business partner Mark Tilsen, is the second business Ms. Hunter has started on the reservation.
In 1996, Ms. Hunter and Mr. Tilsen created Lakota Express, a direct marketing and customer care management company. Focused primarily on fund-raising for non-profit organizations, Ms. Hunter has led the direct marketing campaign for Oglala Lakota College for more than 21 years. More than million has been raised under Ms. Hunter’s leadership, including raising the funds for the establishment of the first library on the reservation and the creation of new college centersin each of the nine districts on Pine Ridge.
Well-known throughout the Native American community for her local and national service record, Ms. Hunter serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Native American Rights Fund; the National Indian Business Association; and the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Hunter, who holds an MBA from Oglala Lakota College, hasreceived numerous awards, including the 2007 SBA Small Business Woman of the Year for South Dakota. Recognized in 2003 as one of the 100 Best Minority Suppliers by the Minority Business Network, Ms. Hunter received the National Director’s Pioneer Award in 2006 from then-Department of Commerce Secretary Ronald Langston. She has also been awarded the President Harry S. Truman Foundation Scholarship; Indian Business Woman of the Year from the National Indian Business Association; and the Rising Star Award from the Business Women’s Network and Diversity Best Practices
Ronald J. Solimon
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.
NANA Development (NDC) is the wholly owned division of NANA Regional Corporation; an Alaskan Native Corporation. NDC today has operations in all fifty states, over fourteen thousand employees with revenues exceeding one billion in sales. Clyde leads NANA’s efforts in establishing global strategic partnerships and mentors a new generation of team members for NANA. Prior to Clyde’s current position, he served as President of NANA Services in Seattle, Washington, growing that pure startup to $20M in revenue before turning over the company to new leadership and moving up to the parent organization. Clyde also spent more than eight years operating a privately held company with national customers like Safeway, Pay & Save, and Lamonts Apparel, as well as Alaska Government organizations like the State of Alaska, the City of Fairbanks, and the North Star Borough School District. For the last 20 years, Clyde has been committed to the growth and successful operational execution of NANA’s businesses.
Michelle L. Holiday, Michelle Holiday & Associates
Michelle Holiday, an enrolled member of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, has had extensive experience in tribal affairs, government relations, and the energy industry. From 1993 to 2001, She served in customer relations and public affairs roles for Southern California Edison (SCE). In 2002, she became the Senior Manager of Legislative and Native American Affairs for Edison International, SCE’s parent company. She held that position until March, 2013, when she retired from Edison to establish Michelle Holiday & Associates.
In addition to her extensive experience in the energy field, Holiday has held positions in tribal administration, serving her own tribe as Director of Economic Development from 2001-2003, and currently as a consultant for government relations, strategic planning and tribal development.
Holiday holds leadership positions in several Native and non-Native organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) for over 15 years. In 2014, she was named to the Board of Directors of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians Economic Development Authority. Holiday also is an Ambassador to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Minorities in Energy Initiative, and a member of the American Petroleum Institute’s Energy Research Collaborative. She serves on the Board of Directors of Walking Shield, a humanitarian organization serving Native families.
A graduate of California State University Long Beach, Michelle Holiday, whose Indian name is Na-Sta’ Peme or “Good Heart Woman,” is deeply connected to her tribal heritage, which continues to inform her identity, career path, work ethic and commitment to helping Native American tribes and businesses achieve their community and business goals.
Larry G. Kinley
Larry Kinley is involved in the development of social and economic opportunities for his people and was involved in the formation of the Alliance of American Indian Leaders, advocates of tribal self- determination and sovereignty who called together tribal leadership, scholars and lawyers to research historical documents, court case, and tribal archives in an attempt to determine the original intent of the drafters of the U.S. Constitution and their consideration of the present and future relationship between the emerging union and Indian tribes. Larry holds a Bachelor Degree from the Chaminade College in Honolulu. Larry is also a commercial fisherman. Larry has been a member of the NCAIED Board of Directors since 1988.
Ernie Stevens, Jr.
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.
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.