National Congress of American Indians picks Kevin Allis as its first chief executive

President: ‘We are fortunate to benefit from Kevin’s considerable expertise and look forward to working together to protect and advance tribal sovereignty’

Kevin Allis will be the first ever chief executive officer for the National Congress of American Indians. The organization and its executive committee said they interviewed many candidates for the position, but Allis stood out.

“As we embark on a new chapter with the hiring of our first CEO, we are pleased to welcome Kevin Allis to the National Congress of American Indians. We are fortunate to benefit from Kevin’s considerable expertise and look forward to working together to protect and advance tribal sovereignty,” said Jefferson Keel, president of the organization.

The role is the first for the organization as the previous title was executive director, which was held by Jacqueline Pata for 18 years. The organization’s longest-serving executive director. She resigned in February but remained on the job until May to help the organization with the transition.

(Previous story: NCAI’s former director continues career by leading Indian housing program)

Allis, citizen of the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Wisconsin, brings leadership experience and a legal background to the organization.

He was executive director of the Native American Contractors Association from 2012 to 2015. Allis also served as chairman of Potawatomi Business Development Corporation’s board of directors for more than 10 years.

“I am sincerely humbled by the honor to lead this organization, and appreciate the opportunity and challenge to continue the great work of this historic organization in strengthening tribal sovereignty and safeguarding our traditions and customs for generations to come,” he said.

Leadership seems to run in his family. His mother grew up in the Forest County Potawatomi Community in northern Wisconsin. His grandfather and great-grandfather were the tribal chairman.

He was a police officer at the Baltimore Police Department for 8 years before attending and completing law school at the University of Baltimore. In 2016, Allis obtained a certificate in executive development from the Harvard Business School Executive Education.

The attorney worked at Kollman & Saucier for four years and PillieroMazza for another four. At both law firms, he focused on labor and employment.

He is also the founder and president of Thunderbird Strategic, a “nationally recognized legislative advocacy firm” in Washington, D.C.. The firm has been around since 2015. Allis is simultaneously a member on the board of directors for Commerce State Bank.

Allis will be formally introduced at the organization’s mid-year conference at the end of this month in Sparks, Nevada. 

Previous stories: Who will be next? ‘One of the hardest jobs in the world,’ leading the National Congress of American Indians

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter - @jourdanbb. Email -jbennett-begaye@indiancountrytoday.com.

Indian Country Today, LLC., is a non-profit news organization owned by the non-profit arm of The National Congress of American Indians. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently.

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