June 30 marks one year since I had the privilege of joining the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) as the 7th commissioner in the history of the agency. This year, I’ve visited with hundreds of tribal leaders, program staff, and community members in dozens of Native communities. We’ve made meaningful progress, and, on behalf of ANA, I want to extend a thank you to the Tribal leaders, community members, and my colleagues at the federal, state, and local levels who’ve shared their insights and collaborated with us. I’m excited and honored to be part of this important work to help Native communities thrive.
Looking ahead, I’ve identified and refined priorities that I am passionate about addressing during my tenure at ANA. Native communities have great strengths and opportunities but also face challenges. And so, through community visits and collaboration with ANA staff and tribal leadership, these are the most pressing priorities expressed to me by the communities we serve.
The Native American Programs Act of 1974 (NAPA), established the role of Commissioner as an advocate on behalf of Native Americans within ANA as well as other departments and agencies of the federal government. In addition to commissioner, I serve also as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Affairs at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a role that advances the government-to-government relationship between ACF and Indian tribes.
The commissioner also chairs several advisory councils, including the ACF Native American Affairs Advisory Council and the Secretary’s HHS Intradepartmental Council on Native American Affairs (ICNAA). These bodies provide advice, input and review of policies and budgets that affect Native American communities and make recommendations to the Secretary of HHS.
- Offer true and meaningful tribal consultation, listening sessions and communication
- Leverage partnerships within ACF and strengthen ACF program impacts in Native communities
- Promote economic development
- Promote healthy Native communities
- Effective resource management
- Government-wide advocacy for Native American issues
- Provide opportunities for all—including lower-capacity and underserved communities
- Better serve targeted populations including youth, elders, first responders and veterans
Every day, I am grateful to serve at ANA as we help communities develop and implement projects that fit their needs, and to be an advocate for Native American communities across the federal government. I have shared these priorities during testimony and meetings on Capitol Hill, as well as meetings with the White House and with tribal leaders during consultations. This next year, I’m looking forward to working with you to accomplish these priorities.
The Administration for Native Americans is a program office within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. To learn more about how ANA can assist your community, visit www.acf.hhs.gov/ana.