Interim Executive Director
Susan Masten, a citizen of the Yurok Tribe of Northern California, comes to NAFOA as a lifelong political activist and advocate for tribal and women’s rights. From 1988 to 1991, she served as a Yurok Transition Team member to implement the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act which established the Hoopa Valley and the Yurok Reservations. She then served as the Yurok Tribal Chairperson from 1997 to 2003 and continued for an additional two terms as the Tribal Vice-Chairperson. Around the same time, Masten also served as the First Vice-President, then President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), as only the second woman to serve in the position. During her tenure, her advocacy covered issues such as energy, natural resource management, housing, health, budget allocations, trust reform, digital divide, and sovereignty protection.
Masten’s leadership experience also includes serving as the Pacific Regional Vice-President and President; Co-Chair of the National Trust Reform Task Force; Chair of the Board of Directors of the Indian Law Resource Center; Vice-President of the National American Indian Enterprise Development Center; Commissioner and President of Klamath Chamber of Commerce, among many others. In 2022, she was appointed to the Norte County Board of Supervisors by the Governor of California. Masten remains very active in her traditional Yurok tribal practices, which include fishing and gathering on the Klamath River; she is also responsible for the care and protection of her family’s ceremonial regalia.