Speakers and Bios

Meet Our Invited Speakers

Colby Duren

Colby Duren

Colby is the Policy Director and Staff Attorney for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Based in Washington, DC, Colby has over 10 years of experience in federal Indian law and policy, with a specific focus on food, agriculture, and natural resources issues. Prior to joining the...
Aaron Wodin-Schwartz

Aaron Wodin-Schwartz

Aaron Wodin-Schwartz, Vice President, Public Policy, Brand USA. Brand USA is the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Aaron develops, executes, and leads outreach efforts to key stakeholders to promote and advance Brand USA’s mission and raise visibility worldwide for the...
Angie West

Angie West

Angela West – National Program Lead – Tourism & Community Service Bureau of Land Management. Angela has worked for over 35 years in the field of natural and heritage resource management as a manager, program director, wilderness and outdoor recreation specialist, marketer, and National Travel and Tourism Program Manager for the Bureau of Land Management.  Angela’s...
Anna Barrera

Anna Barrera

Anna Barrera, A2B Consulting- Anna is a sustainable tourism and hospitality consultant with professional experience in strategic planning, product development, marketing, and capacity building. She has a passion for working with indigenous tourism organizations to drive economic development in Native communities. To this end, she has partnered with organizations including the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism...
Anthony Foti

Anthony Foti

Anthony Foti serves as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs within the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department Commerce. In that capacity, Anthony supports the Secretary of Commerce on legislative and intergovernmental affairs matters pertaining to the Department’s relationship with state, local, tribal and territorial governments and their governmental associations. Prior to joining...
Ashley Bland

Ashley Bland

Ashley Bland is the director of Travois Design & Construction Services (TD&CS), which also operates as Travois Architecture PC in some states. She and her team conceptualize, plan and design homes and buildings, both for new construction and rehabilitation projects, to create culturally-appropriate, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient homes and buildings for American Indian, Alaska Native and...
Bethany Sam

Bethany Sam

Bethany Sam is the Innovator and Project Manager of First Nation’s Focus; a tribal news magazine for the State of Nevada and Eastern Sierra. Bethany is Hunkpapa Dakota (Sioux), Kuiza-tika-ah Numa (Lee Vining Paiute), & Wašiw (Washoe). She is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota and was raised in...
Brenna Moore

Brenna Moore

Brenna Moore is the PR & Communications Manager for Visit Albuquerque. She serves as Vice Chair of the Central Region Marketing Board for the New Mexico Tourism Department and is a board member for the New Mexico Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. As a native New Mexican, she enjoys sampling new brews,...
Camille L. Ferguson

Camille L. Ferguson

Camille L. Ferguson, Executive Director AIANTA- Camille is Tlingit from the Kiksadi Clan and a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. She studied business and village management at Sheldon Jackson College. She served as the Economic Development Director for Sitka Tribe of Alaska for 15 years, 1996-2012. She established, expanded and managed the tribe’s...
Carolyn McClellan

Carolyn McClellan

Carolyn McClellan, Assistant Director, Programs, Smithsonian Institution – National Museum of the American Indian Carolyn is the Assistant Director, Programs, for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, with oversight for all cultural programming; including tribal festivals and the museum’s annual Living Earth Festival, internships and fellowships, seminars and symposia. She came to the museum...
Catherine Prather

Catherine Prather

Catherine Prather,  Executive Vice President, National Tour Association Catherine Prather, CTP, joined the National Tour Association team in 1994 and currently serves as executive vice president. In this role, Catherine focuses on strategic continuity to ensure NTA’s long-term growth and viability. As executive vice president, Catherine’s areas of oversight include strategic development, membership growth, leadership...
Charlie G Sark

Charlie G Sark

The purpose of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is to improve the socio-economic situation of Indigenous people within the 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada. ITAC does that through the provision of the following services to Indigenous tourism operators and communities, or those looking to start a cultural tourism business: Economic development...
Chris James

Chris James

Chris has served as the President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development since January of 2017. 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...
Chris Schroeder

Chris Schroeder

Chris Schroeder is the Chief Operating Officer for Real Time Solutions; a web based Software Company headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was raised in Albuquerque and upon completing High School, he proceeded to work for a startup website company, Real Time Sites. Concurrently, he studied philosophy and religious studies at the University of New...
Christina Beckmann

Christina Beckmann

Christina is the Senior Director, Strategy & Impact for the Adventure Travel Trade Association.  She works closely with small businesses, social enterprises, international development agencies, governments, and foundations. In addition to managing AdventureEDU, Christina leads ATTA’s research program, prioritizing research needs and developing projects to address them. Prior to joining the ATTA, Christina worked from...
Chrystal Denys

Chrystal Denys

Chrystal Denys is a Commercial Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service, based at the American Embassy in London. The U.S. Commercial Service helps American Companies in their export needs and supports Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the United States. Chrystal’s current industry portfolio includes Education & Training, Financial Services, and Travel & Tourism. She has...
Courtney Spearman

Courtney Spearman

Courtney Spearman manages the Design program for the National Endowment for the Arts, overseeing the NEA’s relationship with and support for the design field across the country and managing the Art Works Design grant program. Through the Design program and the NEA’s Our Town creative placemaking program, Courtney works with Native American communities to support...
Derek Valdo

Derek Valdo

Derek Valdo, CEO AMERIND Risk. Derek was named Chief Executive Officer of AMERIND Risk in July of 2012 after joining AMERIND Risk in 2000. AMERIND Risk is the only 100% Tribally owned and operated insurance company that provides property, liability, workers compensation and employee benefits. Since 2005, Valdo has served as a councilman for his...
Donald Leadbetter

Donald Leadbetter

Donald Leadbetter, Tourism Program Manager National Park Service. Mr. Leadbetter coordinates engagement with the travel and tourism industry and facilitates collaboration on relevant issues in support of sustainable tourism that benefits parks, visitors, and communities. In addition to providing external coordination and representation of the National Park Service at tourism industry forums, trade shows, and...
Donovan Hanley

Donovan Hanley

Mr. Hanley is President of Detours Native America.  Born to the Towering House Clan and born for the Water Flowing Together Clan. Grandson to the Salt a Clan and Red Running into the Water Clan, this is who I am as a Diné (Navajo). From a small northern Arizona community of Na’ahtee Canyon on the...
Dr. Kristin Lamoureux

Dr. Kristin Lamoureux

Dr. Kristin Lamoureux, Visiting Professor of Tourism Studies Virginia Tech University Dr. Lamoureux has been a leader in the area of professional and academic education for almost 20 years. Most recently, she was the executive director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS) and a research professor of business and tourism studies at The...
Elizabeth Tran

Elizabeth Tran

Elizabeth Tran is a Senior Program Officer in the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities. In this role, she supports projects that explore ways to harness new digital technologies for humanities research as well as those that study digital culture from a humanistic perspective. Her previous appointments were at the...
Ernie Stevens, Jr.

Ernie Stevens, Jr.

Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Stevens is the Chairman and national spokesperson for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in Washington, D.C. Stevens is currently in his ninth two-year term as the organization’s leader, which is a position elected by the member tribes of the National Indian Gaming Association. As Chairman...
Floyd Tortalita

Floyd Tortalita

Floyd Tortalita is from the Pueblo of Acoma, and is currently the Executive Director of the Pueblo of Acoma Housing Authority. Mr. Tortalita has 17 years of experience in planning, design and housing development projects on Acoma and Laguna Pueblos. He has been Executive Director of PAHA since January of 2009 and oversees PAHA’s overall...
J. Scott Sypolt

J. Scott Sypolt

J. Scott Sypolt, Partner, Corporate Akerman Law Mr. Sypolt has devoted a large part of his practice to working with Native American Tribes, especially those located in Illinois. He has worked to establish Native American rights in local and state businesses and has advised on long-term and short-term business transactions with corporate entities. Scott’s corporate...
Jefferson Keel

Jefferson Keel

Jefferson Keel serves as the 22nd President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native tribal government organization in the country. President Keel was elected on October 2017 at NCAI’s 74th Annual Convention to serve a third nonconsecutive term as President of NCAI. As...
Joan Timeche

Joan Timeche

Joan Timeche is Executive Director of the Native Nations Institute (NNI) at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona, where she teaches Native Nation Building topics to largely tribal audiences, facilitates customized sessions for tribal leaders, in addition to her administrative duties. From 2001—2009, she also served as Assistant Director of...
Jon Panamaroff

Jon Panamaroff

Jon Deacon Panamaroff, CEO Kodiak Brown Bear Center- Mr. Panamaroff is an enrolled member of the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak and is a shareholder of Koniag, Incorporated. In addition to his work with the Kodiak Brown Bear Center, Jon also serves as the Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President of Koniag Government Services. Kodiak Brown Bear...
Joseph Robertson, PhD

Joseph Robertson, PhD

Joseph Robertson, PhD is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation. He currently the CEO and Chief Data Scientist of Mato Ohitika Analytics LLC, a Native owned startup company that has developed a concept called the Data Sovereignty Initiative. It is a native-centric horizontal governance framework designed to create...
Julie Heizer

Julie Heizer

Julie Heizer, Partner, Deputy Director of the National Travel and Tourism Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce Julie serves as the staff liaison for Brand USA, manages the Market Development Cooperator Program DOC has with AIANTA to expand exports for Indian Country, and is responsible for industry relations, partnerships, and strategic alliances for travel...
Kaisa Barthuli

Kaisa Barthuli

Kaisa Barthuli is Program Manager of the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Through a program of grants and technical assistance, she works with individuals, nonprofits, and local, state, tribal, and federal government agencies to preserve and revitalize the special places and stories associated with historic Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica....
Kimberly Romine

Kimberly Romine

Kimberly Romine is the Deputy Commissioner with the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) with over 40 years in government service, 26 years with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in acquisition. Since 2004 to present Ms. Romine has been with the Department of Health and Human Services, ANA. Ms. Romine has extensive experience working with contracts...
Ladonna Harris

Ladonna Harris

LaDonna is the Founder and President, Americans for Indian Opportunity.  She is an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation, is founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity (www.aio.org). She is a remarkable statesman and international leader, devoted to building networks and coalitions that create systemic change. Harris was raised by her maternal grandparents on...
Lee Vale

Lee Vale

Lee Vale spent the first 11 years of his life with his Mother on their floating home, a 43 foot wood trolling vessel named the” Idle Hour” as they fished all the major seafood industries year round through Southeast and Southcentral Alaska. Lee’s mother eventually took him back to her hometown of Yakutat, a small...
Lenna Aoki

Lenna Aoki

Ms. Lenna Aoki has served as the General Counsel to Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) for the past five years. She currently handles all issues arising under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs as well as a myriad of domestic policy issues, including education and the arts, tourism, labor, judiciary, and social security....
LeRoy Gishi

LeRoy Gishi

LeRoy Gishi, Chief, Division of Transportation, Office of Indian Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Mr. Gishi has served in this position since 1996. The chief serves as the principal authority on the Bureau transportation programs. Mr. Gishi has worked with the Transportation program of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, since 1986....
Levi Rickert

Levi Rickert

Mr. Rickert is an American Indian journalist. A tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Rickert is the founder of Native News Online, a daily American Indian news publication where he serves as publisher and editor. Since its founding, Native News Online has grown into the highest daily-published and ranked American Indian media website...
Luisa Salomoni

Luisa Salomoni

Luisa is a Commercial Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS), based at the American Consulate in Milan, Italy. USCS’ mission is to help American Companies export, to support the travel and tourism sector by increasing the number of foreign visitors towards the United States and to ease Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Unites...
Maria Cuba

Maria Cuba

Maria Cuba is a Massachusetts native who was raised in Puerto Rico with a multicultural background. She is one of Airbnb’s earliest employees and the founder of their Latino Employee Group “Juntos”. Her multiple passions have taken her from Law School to Interior Design School where she cultivated her love for words and the arts....
Mario Fulmer

Mario Fulmer

Mario Fulmer is from the Tlingit tribe of Southeast, Alaska. He has family ties to the Village of Hoonah and spent his childhood in Ketchikan. His Tlingit name is Kaa L’ee and he is from the T’akdeintaan (Raven clan from the outercoast) of the Xúna Kaawu with ancestral ties to the Tlingit of Glacier Bay....
Melody McCoy Esq.

Melody McCoy Esq.

Melody McCoy Esq., Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Melody joined the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) as a staff attorney in 1986. At NARF, Melody has worked primarily in the areas of jurisdiction in Indian country, tribal rights in education, tribal intellectual property rights, and tribal trust funds. Melody is a past Co-Chair of the...
Michael Ochs

Michael Ochs

A 35+ year veteran in Washington DC lobbying, Michael currently serves as Director of Government Affairs for the RV Industry Association. RVIA is the national trade association representing the diverse manufacturing businesses which build more than 98 percent of all RVs produced in the U.S., including motor homes, travel trailers, truck campers, park model RVs...
Michael Platt Jr.

Michael Platt Jr.

In August 2017, Michael Platt Jr. was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Assistant Secretary Platt serves as the primary advisor to Secretary Wilbur Ross on legislative issues, congressional relations and outreach to...
Paige Williams Shepherd

Paige Williams Shepherd

Paige Williams Shepherd, Director of Corporate Development and Tourism, Chickasaw Nation- Paige joined the Chickasaw Nation in October 2008.  Her primary responsibilities include corporate development as a means for tourism development and the planning, development, management and operation of tourism for the Chickasaw Nation. Under the tourism umbrella, Paige oversees Chickasaw Country, the travel and tourism...
Reed Robinson

Reed Robinson

Reed Robinson is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicanju, Lakota). Reed is a 27 year veteran of the National Park Service and is currently the National Park Service (NPS) Tribal Liaison Officer (acting) working directly for the NPS director. Mr. Robinson’s permanent position is NPS/Midwest Regional (MWR) Tribal Relations & Indian Affairs...
Rick Cain

Rick Cain

Rick Cain Vice President, Longwoods International USA Inc. With more than 30 years of both client and supplier side experience that spans consumer packaged goods, retail, restaurants, and travel, Rick brings a wealth of marketing and research expertise to Longwoods, where his focus is business development, client service, and marketing strategy. He has conducted research...
Rick MacLeod Farley

Rick MacLeod Farley

Rick MacLeod Farley, Macleod Farley and Associates- Rick is a Development Economist with Irish- and French-Canadian heritage. He has nearly thirty years’ experience working with and for Indigenous communities, in Canada, and for Native American communities on community-, tourism- and ecotourism-development planning and financing. MacLeod Farley & Associates has helped secure more than US$48 million...
Rick May

Rick May

U.S. Navy SEAL CAPT Rick May serves at the Department of the Interior as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior. He oversees recreational activities on public lands, with the aim of creating access and opportunities. May is a decorated veteran who served in the Iraq War. Since his departure from active duty in...
Roger Dow

Roger Dow

Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing all segments of travel in America—an industry that generates $2.4 trillion in economic output and supports 15.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. U.S. Travel champions a pro-growth, pro-connectivity, pro-traveler...
Sandra Anderson

Sandra Anderson

Sandra Anderson, IT & Website Development Coordinator,   NativeAmerica.travel, AIANTA Sandra is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and originally from Fort Defiance, Arizona. She is from the Towering House clan and born for the Towering House clan. Her maternal grandfather is from the Meadow People clan and her paternal grandfather is from the Bitter Water...
Seleni Matus

Seleni Matus

Seleni Matus, Executive Director, International Institute of Tourism Studies at The George Washington University. Seleni has spent more than 15 years designing and directing large, multi-stakeholder initiatives that have mainstreamed sustainable tourism principles into key sectors of the tourism industry.  These initiatives include the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative and the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas. Seleni...
U.S. Senator Tom Udall

U.S. Senator Tom Udall

U.S. Senator Tom Udall Senator Udall has earned a reputation as a principled leader who has the integrity to do what is right for New Mexico and our nation.  Tom began serving as United States Senator in 2009, after two decades of public service in the U.S. House of Representatives and as New Mexico Attorney...
Sherry L. Rupert

Sherry L. Rupert

Sherry L. Rupert, Co-Chair and President American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA)- Sherry is Executive Director of the Nevada Indian Commission, appointed by Governor Kenny Guinn in 2005. Rupert was sworn in by Governor Brian Sandoval as the first American Indian woman appointed to his Cabinet. With more than 20 years of tribal and...
Susan Guyette, Ph. D.

Susan Guyette, Ph. D.

Susan Guyette, Ph. D., Santa Fe Planning & Research- Susan, (Métis, Micmac and Acadian French) is the owner of Santa Fe Planning & Research, offering services in tourism planning, cultural center and museum planning and development, business and economic development planning, needs assessments, surveys, evaluations, funding proposals and related training topics. Dr. Guyette has worked...
Terry Heslin

Terry Heslin

Terry Heslin is the Lead Outdoor Recreation Planner with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also serves as the BLM New Mexico Trails and Travel Management lead in addition to serving as the NSHT Lead/Co-Administrator for El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. Terry has been at the New Mexico...
Theodore S. Jojola

Theodore S. Jojola

Theodore (Ted) Jojola, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor and Regents’ Professor in the Community & Regional Planning Program, School of Architecture + Planning, University of New Mexico (UNM). He holds a PhD in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa where he attended the East-West Center. He has a Masters in City Planning from...
Toby Bloom

Toby Bloom

Toby Bloom, National Program Manager, Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation, Forest Service, Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources. A native of the DC Metropolitan area, Toby develops programs and tools to promote visitation to the National Forests and Grasslands, based on contemporary demands including emerging technologies, social/economic/environmental factors, legislative requirements, and administrative needs. Some of the current...
Toni Stanger McLaughlin, JD

Toni Stanger McLaughlin, JD

Toni Stanger-McLaughlin is the Director of Tribal Governance for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Toni is based on the West Coast close to the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation where she is a citizen of the tribe. For over a decade Toni has worked in the area...
Trisha Korbas

Trisha Korbas

Trisha Korbas is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Trisha began her professional career performing water resources design in the private sector before joining the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration in 2003. Trisha spent eight...