2021 Fall Finance & Tribal Economies Conference

September 26-28, 2021



Member Tribe Reception/Meeting


General Session

Opening Prayer and Cultural Sharing

Erica Bread, Vocalist, Kiowa Tribe and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

NAFOA Welcome Remarks

Conference Chair Remarks

Meet NAFOA's New Executive Director

Richard "Rico" Frias joined NAFOA as our new Executive Director in July.  Hear from him on his plans to support and strengthen NAFOA's mission and our member tribes.

Department of Commerce Update

The Deputy Secretary will discuss federal resources available through the U.S. Commerce Department for Tribal communities including resources for economic development and broadband infrastructure.
Don Graves
, Deputy Secretary, US Department of Commerce

Economy: Recovery Road Paved With ... ?

In the wake of the Covid recession, the economy is rebounding. What will this rebound look like? What will a post-Covid economy look like? What, if any, structural changes are in store? What does the short-term covid rebound look like and how will the long-term economy adjust to a new landscape? How should tribes think about the short and long-term prospects for the economy in this new post-pandemic world?
Aaron Klein
, Economic Advisor, NAFOA
Beth Ann Bovino, Chief Economist, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services

Treasury's Role in Administering COVID Relief to Tribal Governments

Both the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act provided historic funding for tribal governments.  In a departure from past precedent, Congress tasked the Department of Treasury with implementing these programs.  Jacob Leibenluft, is the Chief Recovery Officer of the Treasury's newly-formed Office of Recovery Programs.  He will join us to discuss implementing the COVID Relief Aid Programs and dialogue with us about development of the Department’s partnership and government-to-government engagement with Tribal Nations.
Jacob Leibenluft
, Chief Recovery Officer, Office of Recovery Programs, US Department of the Treasury

CFO/Tribal Treasurer Roundtable

The last year and a half has seen unprecedented challenges but also new opportunities in Indian Country. How are Tribes using ARP and CARES funding? Handling reporting requirements or audits? Are there new economic development opportunities in a work-from-home world? Infrastructure projects? Join us in a roundtable with your fellow Tribal Financial Leaders to survey the emerging landscape post-pandemic.

Cristina Danforth
, Treasurer, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and NAFOA President
Carrie Carlson, CFO, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
Wade Pahmahmie, Treasurer, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation
Kristian Poncho, Secretary/Treasurer, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
Carla Wallace, Treasurer, Sac and Fox Nation

Refreshment Break

Breakout Sessions

Confidently Cruise CARES Act Compliance

With the passage of the CARES ACT, there were tens of billions of dollars distributed to Tribal Governments over the last year. While these programs provided welcome relief during difficult times, they also came with a seemingly never-ending stream of guidance, deadlines, extensions, regulations, and reporting requirements. Our panelists will dive deep into these issues to help our attendees navigate the complex compliance regime with confidence.
Wesley Benally
, Senior Manager, REDW
Peter George
, Partner, Gaming, Hospitality & Tribal Services, Macias Gini & O'Connell, LLP
Randi Gardner Hardin, Associate General Counsel, Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce

CryptoWorld: BitCoin and Blockchain - The New Way or Passing Fad?

Crypto currency has taken the world by storm, surging in value and generating substantial interest as the future of money may be changing. Supporters believe crypto offers a new chance to reimagine as the transformation of record keepings through blockchain unlocks possibilities previously unimagined. Detractors worry that these 'innovations' are generating large bubbles in unregulated spaces with potentially systemic financial consequences. Passing fad or next revolution: who is right? Join this panel for a spirited conversation about the potential of Crypto and blockchain for Tribes.
Aaron Klein
, Economic Advisor, NAFOA
John D'Agostino
, Director of Institutional Sales, Coinbase
William Henning
, Executive Professor of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law
Lee Reiners, Executive Director, Global Financial Markets Center, Duke University

Updates on The Latest on Federal Legislation

This panel discussion will focus on legislative and Administration updates on issues affecting Indian tribes and businesses.  In particular, the panel will focus on the latest information regarding the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Federal appropriations, the $3.1 trillion budget reconciliation proposal and administration actions expected from Treasury and the Department of Interior that could affect tribes and tribal operations.
Aurene Martin
, Managing Partner, Spirit Rock Consulting LLC
John Simermeyer, Counsel, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Denise Desiderio, Senior Policy Advisor, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Pete Kirkham, Red Maple Consulting


Breakout Sessions

More Money More Problems: ARP Compliance

The American Rescue Plan investment of $1.75 billion in American Indian and Alaska Native government programs is arriving to a compliance weary Indian Country. To help manage spending stress, this panel will specifically address concerns related to funding under the oversight of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Hear from our panel regarding how those funds have been administered. What help tribal governments and communities can expect and what remains uncertain?
Jamie Fullmer, Chairman, Blue Stone Strategy Group
Suresh Geer
, Director, Wipfli LLP
Jeanette Hanna, Deputy Bureau Director, Indian Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Vickie Hanvey, Program Policy Analyst, U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Self Governance (OSG)
Kathryn Isom-Clause, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior 

Harnessing the Growing Power of Microgrids

Microgrids are revolutionizing U.S. electrical utilities and Indian Country is helping to lead the way. This growing source of energy distribution is helping tribes meet their own power needs, as well as provide a major business opportunity. Recently the BIA issued four grants for microgrid projects, as part of their Tribal Energy & Mineral Development Program. Hear how microgrids have benefited tribal members and businesses.
Mark Harding
, Managing Partner, Sovereign Resiliency Partners
Chris Deschene, CEO, NPower Link, LLC
Dan Nordloh, Senior Vice President, General Manager, EnTech Solutions

SSBCI: What Tribes Need to Know

ARP provided $10 billion to fund the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), with the goal of funding state, territory, and Tribal government small business credit support and investment programs. With Tribal applications due at the end of this year, hear from Treasury officials on the progress of the SSBCI, how the program is performing, and what is next for SSBCI.
Jay Calhoun
, Managing Partner, Apis Holdings
Tracy Stanhoff, President, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of CA; President & Creative Director, AD PRO
James Colombe, Project Manager, Center for Indian Country Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Jermaine Tyler, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Adair Morse, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Capital Access, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Refreshment Break

Breakout Sessions

A Tribal Green Revolution: Weighing the Costs of Hemp and Cannabis

Entering the hemp and cannabis industries each provides its own unique challenges. While hemp has been descheduled Cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under the CSA. At the same time, a majority of states have decriminalized cannabis for medical purposes and a growing number have decriminalized it recreationally. The intricacies of cultivation, banking, vertical integration, and finding a market will be covered by our panelists for both cannabis and hemp.
La Vonne Peck
, Partner, Native Network Consulting
Seth Pearman, In House Counsel, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Darian Stanford, Co-Founder, Sovereign Cannabis Solutions
Whitney Hodges, Partner, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

Diversification: Turning a Buzzword Into A Strategic Plan

With the historic injection of cash into Indian Country, Tribes are seeking investment opportunities in which to place their funds. Having a diverse investment portfolio is key to reducing risk. But how do you know what industries, projects or companies are attractive investments? What due diligence protocols should be in place? Join our panel of tribal investors and practitioners as they explore strategies to answer these questions and others.
Dawson Her Many Horses
, SVP & Head of Native American Banking, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking
Dennis Johnson
, Chief Investment Officer, Ho-Chunk, Inc.
Sarah Meacham, Managing Director, PFM Asset Management LLC
Garry McBerryhill, Investment Associate, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners

President's Reception


General Session

Opening Prayer and Cultural Sharing

Erica Bread, Vocalist, Kiowa Tribe and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

GASB: New Standards & Issues Impacting Tribes

Keep up to date with the latest activities of the GASB and the Tribal Government Accounting Working Group (TGAWG). GASB Chairman Joel Black will give an update on GASB activities and projects in process including how you can provide feedback. The presentation will also discuss the viable alternatives for addressing the accounting and financial reporting issues of tribal business based on the recent feedback from the TGAWG.

Joel Black
, Chair, Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Tribal Policy and What Comes Next

Hear a policy update from the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs on what Indian County can expect from this Administration.
Bryan Newland
, Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior

Managing Fiscal Recovery Funds Successfully

The American Rescue Plan allocated $20 billion dollars to tribes in Fiscal Recovery Funds (FRF). Compared to the Coronavirus Relief Fund monies through the CAREs Act, this new allocation is more flexible in terms of allowable uses and time by which tribes will have to spend it. The rules on FRF are complicated and ever-changing. This session will review the current status of Treasury guidance as to the allowable uses of FRF and the reporting required by the U.S. Department of Treasury. 
Rodney Butler
, Chairman, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
Larry Wright, Jr.
, Chairman, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
Nicole Elliott, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP
Jennifer Hughes, Partner, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker

Infrastructure Legislation Update

Both Congress and the Biden Administration have made infrastructure a priority and are working to pass major legislation before the end of this year. Learn the "in's and out's" of the current legislative proposals, as what is being done that might affect Indian Country and Tribal Governments and what opportunities might be available.
Hear from NAFOA's Senior Policy Advisor on what tribal needs are most likely to be addressed in these legislative proposals and what still might be left outstanding/overlooked.
Nicholas Lovesee
, Senior Policy Advisor, NAFOA

Building Strong Tribal Economies and Ensuring Our Future Through the Native American Voting Initiatives

In this session, we will explore recent voting rights victories, the various strategies that helped achieve those victories as well as learn how tribes can participate in these efforts moving forward into the 2022 election cycle through direct participation and strategic investment in increasing Native voter turnout.  Attendees will be given specific examples of how Indian Country could expand tribal sovereignty and economic security for future generations through these efforts and gain further insight as to how their participation and strategic investment could increase tribal sovereignty and economic security for future generations to come.

Donald M. Ragona
, Director of Development/House Counsel, Native American Rights Fund
Dallin Maybee, Assistant Director of Development, Native American Rights Fund

Update on White House Policy for Indian Country

Libby Washburn, Special Assistant to the President for Native Affairs will provide an update on White House policy affecting Indian Country.

Libby Washburn
, Special Assistant to the President for Native Affairs, White House Domestic Policy Council

Refreshment Break

Breakout Sessions

Emerging Tribal Trends for Leveraging ARP Funding

Tribes are currently debating ARP funding usage in conjunction with other federal program funds, their own resources or with debt to develop infrastructure or other projects. Unlike the 2020 CARES Act, new ARP funds seem to carry fewer restrictions on use. Join us for a timely discussion about leveraging this record amount of funding that maximizes your allocation and builds a steady future for tribal communities.
Kristi Jackson
, Chairman, TFA Capital Partners
Adam Rose
, Director of Partnerships and Growth, Travois
Mara Quintero Campbell, Senior Advisor to the DAS/COO, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
Casey Lozar, Vice President/Director, Center for Indian Country Development/Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Securing Your Tribe's Cyberspace: Mitigating Ransomware Risk

The pandemic has proven to be a boom for cyber criminals. Ransomware attacks have been plastered all over the news with targets ranging from huge multinational conglomerates and government entities, to small and midsized companies. Employees are spending more time online and often doing so from less secure remote access networks. In this session, our experts will discuss the threats posed by cyber attacks to Tribal businesses and governments as well as best practices for mitigating these risks.
Troy Hawes
, Senior Director of Cybersecurity, Moss Adams
James Kreiser, Principal – IT and Business Risk Services CLA
Derek Valdo, CEO, AMERIND

IRS, GWE and Everything Related

The GWE Subcommittees of the Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee (TTAC) has submitted a report to Treasury. Learn which issues related to Indian Country are currently being discussed and how they might be addressed. The General Welfare Exclusion Act was not intended to impact other benefits tribal members receive such as SSI. Hear about proposed administrative and legislative fixes for this issue.

Renee Ferguson
, AIAN Executive Champion, Social Security Administration
Telly Meier
, Program Manager, Indian Tribal Governments, IRS
Kenneth Parsons
, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP
Michael Willis, Partner, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker, LLP

Lifetime Achievement Awards Luncheon

Please join us as we honor strong Native American Leaders who have brought about positive economic change for both their communities and Indian Country throughout the course of their careers.

Breakout Sessions

Tax Matters and Strategies for Tribes

Presenters will share best practices and strategies for Tribal governments to maximize tax revenues and Federal tax credits available while also minimizing income taxes for Tribal members. Topics covered will include recent IRS Tribal Taxation Updates for Emergency Member Benefit Payments, how to maximize tax credits still available under CARES Act, strategies for implementing a General Welfare Program, and proposals for establishing a Tribal tax ordinance.
Ryan Luetkemeyer
, Senior Manager, Moss Adams
Scott Layton
, CFO, Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians
Sam Cohen, Government Affairs and Legal Officer, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Mary Streitz, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Powering Up: Financing Tribal Energy Projects

Energy costs are a huge expense for tribal governments and business operations This session will provide an overview of innovative options for reducing energy costs and the financing available to help tribes take control of their energy future.
Hear from the Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office on financing available for energy projects across all energy sectors, as well as different tribal projects that received part of the $6.5 BIA energy & mineral development grant.
John Lushetsky
, Senior Advisor, Loan Programs Office, US Department of Energy
Payton Batliner, Acting Branch Chief, Business Services Branch, Division of Energy and Mineral Development
Bill Cornelius, Tribal Services Advisor, Baker Tilly

Accounting Functions & Systems – Change is Here and Approaching Indian Country

The finance department is the most crucial group of people in making your tribal government and entities thrive. It oversees budgeting, allocating funds, assessing investment qualities, and finding a better use of the company resources.
Accounting software technology is rapidly changing. With cloud-based systems and other ERP integrations, the capabilities of producing real-time analytics for stakeholders is a necessity to tribal governments and entities. Learn how to make this transition within your organization work smoothly, effectively and efficiently - and how to avoid the overwhelming stress points.
Rochelle Alcon
, Principal, Client Accounting Services,  REDW
Mary Chisholm
, CFO, Citizen Potawatomi Nation
John Hosman, Partner, FS Advisors Inc.
Scott Williams
, Solutions Engineer, OpenGov

Refreshment Break

Breakout Sessions

Strategizing Emergency Relief Aid to Tribal Citizens

Tribes have proven (once again) their capabilities in responding rapidly to emergencies in their communities. In this session, speakers will share best practices in providing emergency relief aid to address negative economic harm and set the foundation for economic recovery – including assessing the needs of the community, creating GWE programs or building off the Emergency Rental Assistance or Homeowner’s Assistance Fund, and considerations in staffing.
Pilar Thomas
, Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP
Gabe Aguilar
, President, Mescalero Apache Tribe
Jamie Azure, Tribal Chairman, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians

Sky's the Limit: Drone Technology and the Future of Tribes

Innovations in drone technology have made drones a viable, cost-saving, and environmentally friendly tool for tribal governments. Tribes have used drones to gather and analyze data of geographical areas for purposes of farming, public safety, cultural preservation, and wildlife management. For example, drone surveillance is an effective method for monitoring and inspecting pipelines in remote, hard-to-reach areas and has greatly reduced environmental impacts while ensuring workplace safety. Hear how tribes can benefit from integrating drone technology to streamline public services.
James Grimsley
, Executive Director, Advanced Technology Initiatives, Division of Strategic Development, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Jeff Krecic, Manager of Flight Operations, Tukuh Technology Services
James Twoteeth, GIS/IT Manager, Coeur D'Alene Tribe

Closing Reception

Get ready for music and laughs after a productive conference at Howl at the Moon on Tuesday evening, September 28th. Enjoy comedy from Marc Yaffee, networking, food, and live dueling pianos!