Sunday, September 30 8:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Pre-Conference Golf Outing

The Pueblo of Santa Ana is sponsoring a golf outing on Sunday, September 30th at the Twin Warriors Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort. Registration and driving range will start at 7:30 am.  Shotgun will start at 9 am.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Golf club rentals are complimentary, but participants need to reserve clubs ahead of time.

Sunday, September 30 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Registration Open

Sunday, September 30 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Member Tribe Reception/Meeting




Monday, October 01 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast Buffet

Monday, October 01 8:30 AM - 11:50 AM

General Session

Opening Prayer & Cultural Sharing

Host Tribe Welcome

NAFOA Welcome Remarks

Cristina Danforth, President, NAFOA Board of Directors

Conference Chair Welcome Remarks

Announcing the Formal GASB Tribal Government Work Group

A landmark tribal government working group was announced this summer following an historic tribally-focused education session with the accounting standards boards. The working group will be made up of diverse government, industry, and tribal representatives who will be charged with tackling the difficult challenge of creating a tribal government financial reporting process that recognizes the tribal form of governance and development while providing consistency and transparency in financial reporting. This session will introduce the working group, the expected timeline, and how the NAFOA community can support their efforts.


David Vaudt, Chairman, Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Running While Native and Female – Exploring the Wave Election of 2018

The November elections are right around the corner and there appears to be a lot of energy surrounding Native candidates running for high state and national offices. There is also excitement around the possibility that Native women may break new ground by running competitive races for offices that have never been occupied by Native women. Join our conversation with Native women candidates as they discuss their political aspirations, and challenges and what it may mean for Indian Country.

Are You Protecting the Next Generation? Tribes Talk Investment Strategies for Sovereigns

As sovereigns, tribal governments have an advantage over state and local governments. Tribes can invest any excess revenue in specifically-designated or general investment funds to protect and stabilize an economy, diversify from concentrated economic drivers like gaming, and increase savings for future generations. There is never a perfect time to invest. However, putting off investing reserves or strategically setting aside rainy-day funds means you may be missing out on protecting your tribe’s current standing and building for future generations. Our panelists will discuss their approach to gathering community input, setting up, and managing the process of investing as a sovereign.


Daniel Gottlieb, Director of Investments, Permanent Fund Investments, LLC, The Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Deidra Mitchell, President & CEO, Waséyabek Development Company, LLC

Monday, October 01 11:50 AM - 1:20 PM


Monday, October 01 1:20 PM - 2:35 PM

Breakout Sessions

New Advocacy Strategies for a New Congress

What is the policy of this Administration and Congress when it comes to Indian Country? Tribal governments received an increase in appropriations while being left out of an expansive tax reform measure. Five Virginia tribes received recognition as sovereign governments but two New England tribes were placed on hold waiting for what should be a routine approval of economic expansion through external government partnerships. Join our interactive session designed to clarify what made some issues successful and others stall. More importantly, our panel will help clarify the advocacy strategy that may help Indian Country hold on to gains and advance under this government, with a focus on what to expect under the next Congress.

Hot Topic Discussion: Tribal Government Accounting, Auditing, & Financial Management

This facilitated discussion will center on the latest accounting and auditing developments that will have an impact tribal government operations: GASB’s recent activities, including the new tribal government financial reporting work group, the GAO’s newly issued Yellow Book and how it may change how auditors perform tribal audits, and other emerging issues that our community is experiencing will be highlighted in this session.


Danny Martinez, AICPA Technical Issues Committee

Tasha Repp, NAFOA's GASAC Representative and Tribal Services Partner, Moss Adams

Roberta Reese, Senior Project Manager, Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Frank Rusco, Director, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

New Community Development Financing – Health Care Centers, Energy Projects, & Schools

Tribal governments have always had difficulty accessing suitable capital to fund basic and core community services along with larger economic projects such as energy. New funding ideas and sources are emerging. Tribal governments and capital markets should understand the new options that can save tribes in financing costs and provide the capital markets with assurances. Specifically, this session will highlight the Indian Health Service health care facility joint venture program, the Department of Energy loan guarantee program, and examine a promising new schools funding idea.


John Sneed, Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office, U.S. Department of Energy

Geoff Urbina, Managing Director, Western Regional Manager, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc.

Monday, October 01 2:35 PM - 2:50 PM

Refreshment Break

Monday, October 01 2:50 PM - 4:05 PM

Breakout Sessions

Judicial Watch: Decisions Impacting Indian Country

The Supreme Court and lower courts continue to play an outsized role in federal Indian law and policy. Recent court decisions and activities are no exception. This year, the judicial branch handed down several important decisions that will impact Indian Country for years to come, including the Supreme Court’s South Dakota v. Wayfair decision related to sales tax collection, Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den Inc. decision regarding a treaty interpretation of state-imposed fuel taxes, and a recent federal court ruling in Allergan v. Teva Pharmaceutical on patents. Adding to the activity is the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Our panelists will discuss the impact of recent court decisions and what a Kavanaugh addition to the court may mean for tribal governments.

Involving the Community in Tribal Government Planning & Budgeting

Ambitious community plans and political aspirations can often lead to a better quality of life for tribal community members. When those aspirations and plans are combined with realistic financial planning and priority-based budgeting, leadership is well-positioned for change. Priority-based planning and budgeting brings together tribal leaders, finance officers, and tribal members to make decisions that better align with the tribe’s resources and what leadership and members value the most. This session will provide information on how to do a comprehensive review of all of the tribe’s programs to ensure maximized benefits to tribal members, locate potential programs suitable for partnerships, and determine when to rely on either federal or tribal resources.


Steve Abangan, CFO, Ho-Chunk Nation

Lisa Young, President, Oregon Government Finance Officers Association

Real Estate – Investing in Tangible Assets

Investing in a physical commercial asset like real estate offers a tangible way to build and diversify tribal government holdings. For some tribes it means buying hotels to build their own hospitality ventures in familiar and new markets. For others, it means investing in commercial properties in multiple markets that generate income and increase in value through renovations. Our speakers will share their experiences on the decision-making process, their expectations of which markets and types of properties offer the best value and potential returns, and the factors to consider when investing.


Richard Leibovitch, Managing Partner, Arel Capital

Monday, October 01 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM

Breakout Sessions

Hot Topic Discussion: The Impact of Cannabis & Hemp Legislation on Indian Country

Cannabis and hemp production and distribution is an increasingly hot topic both nationally and within Indian Country. Some tribes have already diversified their economic profiles by venturing into this rapidly-changing industry. However, participating in this industry is complicated. Banks and legislators are already treating Indian Country differently than other governments. How can tribal governments level the playing field through the legislative process? In this interactive session, our panelists will discuss pending legislation and solicit ideas on improvements for tribal participation, including formalizing jurisdiction and adding certainty to financial relationships.


Evan Eneman, Managing Director, MGO National Cannabis Practice 

Integrating Grants Management Across the Office: Finance, Grant Writers, & Program Managers Working Together

Tribal governments manage a plethora of programs that vary in complexity, deadlines, and compliance from multiple federal agencies and various sources of state and private funders. What are the best practices for managing multiple grant projects, communicating across teams, and organizing to ensure reporting compliance? Speakers in this session will talk through helpful management systems and organizational structures for implementing a comprehensive grant management strategy.


Eric De Flon, CFO, Pueblo of Isleta

Mark Payan, Grants Administrator Manager, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians

Unforeseen Tribal Risks - Managing the Unknown

Unforeseen operational costs can blow through a budget and sidetrack growth if they are not managed properly. Recent court decisions have changed the way tribal governments and enterprises are covering directors and officers. In addition, tribal governments have serious considerations regarding how they cover unemployment insurance and workers compensation insurance. All of these risks are managed differently for tribal governments. This session will cover different options for making sure your council and officer actions are covered and the options for managing mandated employee coverages.


Darren Bowmen, CEO, 501(c) Services

Monday, October 01 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

President's Reception

Sponsored by:




Tuesday, October 02 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast Buffet

Tuesday, October 02 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM

General Session

Tribal Economic Forecast: Reacting to Rising Tariffs, Oil Prices, Interest Rates, Deficits, & Markets

Making decisions on managing investments, refinancing, and planning for growth is always difficult, but in today’s environment it is even more complicated. Adding to the difficulty is the impact of political uncertainty. You have serious decisions to make and we have serious experts to help clarify the economic direction and risks. Join our esteemed guests as we talk through factors to consider.


Aaron Klein, Economic Advisor, NAFOA


Mike Condon, FEG Investment Advisors

Living a Full Life: Being Notah Begay III

Notah Begay III, Navajo, is well-known for his success as a PGA Tour golf professional; however, we invited him to address our community for his economic and philanthropic accomplishments. Notah will share his approach to business success, the importance of giving back by embracing the responsibility of being a role model, and his drive to help those that mean the most to him.

Notah secured a scholarship to Stanford University where he earned a degree in Economics in addition to earning All- American Honors three times and leading the golf team to a National Championship in 1994. He leads the award-wining Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation that works to battle obesity and diabetes in Native American youth. He also owns a golf course development firm and that works exclusively with Native communities to develop world-class golf properties. And, he recently became a golf commentator for NBC Sports and Golf Channel.

Tuesday, October 02 11:00 AM - 11:10 AM

Refreshment Break

Tuesday, October 02 11:10 AM - 12:25 PM

Breakout Session

Opportunity Boom or Bust: Exploring the Potential of Opportunity Zones

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created the Opportunity Zones Program, which is a tax incentive for investors to deploy potentially billions of unrealized capital gains into economically distressed communities. Many tribal lands are eligible and, if they can attract investments through the Opportunity Zones program, it can represent a great promise or missed opportunity. Our panelist will discuss Opportunity Zones, their challenges and benefits, and how Indian Country can uniquely position itself to attract this capital.


Kathleen Nilles


Lacey Horn, CPA/CGMA, Treasurer, Cherokee Nation

Think Local - How Procurement Compliance & Buying Indian Can Work Well Together

It is important to understand how procurement impacts your tribe’s financial performance and can support building a strong tribal community. By purchasing from locally-owned businesses, a tribe in turn supports its own economy. But how do we do this while still complying with federal funding rules? This how-to session blends grant compliance with procurement in a tribal government world. Attendees will benefit from the advice from speakers on purchasing under grants, when it is okay to use Indian preference or the tribe’s TERO office, when it is best to put contracts out to bid, and when the tribe can use non-competitive selections.


Traci Stanhoff, President, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of CA and President and Creative Director, AdPro


Anita DeHaan, CPA, Senior Manager, Moss Adams

Michael Phillips, Purchasing Agent, San Carlos Apache Tribe

DeMakus Staton, Grants and Contracts Manager, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Guide to a Visionary Economic Development Board

Board members who are fully engaged in their governance role can make a big difference in helping the tribe achieve its economic goals and fulfill its mission. Engagement can have an impact on board member enthusiasm, passion, and desire to create a shared vision for the tribe’s enterprises. This session will strive to answer the following: How do you get started? What are the best practices and legal considerations for defining a charter? What backgrounds from tribal members, council, and external advisors make sense? And, how does the tribal council support board members?


Karen Atkinson, President, Tribal Strategies Inc.

Tuesday, October 02 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

11th Annual 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 career.

Tuesday, October 02 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Breakout Sessions

Renewable Energy: Unleashing Limitless Energy on Indian Country

Renewable energy development in Indian Country has a triple impact for tribal governments. It has the potential to generate revenue as an energy source for other governments and companies, create efficiencies at home with tribal government and enterprises, and create good-paying local jobs. The U.S. Department of the Interior estimates that tribal energy projects and activities could generate approximately $1 trillion in revenues; however, there are challenges that may prevent tribes from fully realizing their energy development goals. In this session, panelists will highlight successful pathways for tribal energy development through a variety of strategies.


Kevin Frost, Deputy Director, Office Of Indian Energy Policy And Programs, U.S. Department Of Energy

Why Does the IRS Need to See That? Survival Tips for an IRS Audit and Site Visit

When the IRS requests an audit or site visit, what should your tribe be doing to prepare and what and how much is appropriate to share? These questions are often asked at the wrong time: right before or during an examination. This session will review how to prepare for an audit depending on the types of information requested and area of examination, tribal government rights during an audit, when and how to say no to certain expansive requests, and how to make sure there is government-wide coordination when responding to a request. Participant feedback is encouraged to highlight any concerns of tribal leaders and others regarding IRS audits and site visits.


Jonathan Strouse, Partner, Harrison & Held, LLP

The Anatomy of a Cyber Attack: A Case Study in Protecting Your Tribe

The frequency of data breaches at tribal governments has been rising for the past decade with casinos and tribal healthcare operations among those most targeted. The information accessed through breaches such as ransomware and phishing schemes are of particular interest for financial and political gain. To assist Indian Country in protecting against future cyber attacks, this session will provide a real-life case study from a tribe that was hacked due to cyber vulnerabilities.


Matt Borkowski, Senior Technical Account Executive, Arctic IT

Anita Grivins, Director of Finance, Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi

Tuesday, October 02 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Refreshment Break

Tuesday, October 02 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Breakout Sessions

Farm Bill Fallout: Opportunities for Infrastructure, Jobs, & Economic Growth

The Farm Bill, which is reauthorized every five years, is one of the largest, non-defense spending bills, and typically provides around $900 billion in spending over a 10-year period. Congress is on the verge of authorizing this important piece of legislation. It not only sets the country’s food and agriculture policies, but also provides funding for loans, grants, credit, and infrastructure support for economic development in many rural areas—especially throughout Indian Country. In this session, panelists will discuss the more pertinent provisions to Indian Country and how tribes can best take advantage of these new or updated programs.

The New Realities of Indian Healthcare

Recent court decisions may fundamentally change how tribal governments lease healthcare facilities to IHS and pay for, and utilize, contract support costs. Our expert panelists will review the impact of three distinct and important court rulings, then discuss strategies for tribes to consider when negotiating leases and effectively using third-party revenue to build better healthcare services and facilities. These cases (Sage Memorial Hospital, Inc. V. Burwell, Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Alex M. Azar, and Maniilaq Association v. Burwell), when taken together, can make a significant difference in how a tribe manages IHS programs and improve healthcare in and around tribal communities.


Geoffrey D. Strommer, Partner, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker

Robert Yoder, Attorney, Yoder & Langford Law Firm

Why Banks & Tribes Should Care About Environmental & Social Investments

What is the true cost of investing in projects that may harm the environment and do not consider the impacts on entire populations? The answer to this question is driving 70% of institutional investors to consider social, environmental, and governance factors when making investment decisions. The momentum for sustainable investment is high because the risks of not considering these factors is similarly high. Beyond performance and risk considerations, there are other impacts such as potential employees now considering a firm’s position on sustainability when deciding on a place to work or potential clients considering a firm’s social impact position before investing. How are firms dealing with this new reality and what is the role and voice for tribal governments in creating change?


Matthew Gelfand, Managing Director, Senior Economist & Senior Investment Advisor, Rockefeller Capital Management

Tuesday, October 02 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Closing Reception

Join us for Casino Night under the New Mexico sky at the AMERIND Risk tent. There will be food, drinks, casino games, tethered balloon rides, prizes for chip leaders, and lots of fun and networking.   

Sponsored by: