36th Annual Conference

April 22-24, 2018





Sunday, April 22 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Registration Open

Sunday, April 22 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Member Tribe Meeting/Reception




Monday, April 23 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast Buffet

Monday, April 23 8:30 AM - 11:50 AM

General Session

Opening Prayer and Cultural Sharing

Host Tribe Welcome

Jena Band of Choctaw Indians

NAFOA Welcoming Remarks

Cristina Danforth, President, NAFOA Board of Directors

Conference Co-Chair Welcome remarks

Surfing the Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Wave –Tribal Currency and Tribal Systems

Headlines are filled with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading and markets. Cryptocurrency is becoming more accepted by retailers and institutions with some asserting that it is the international currency of the future. Is there a place for the new currency in tribal governments? More important for tribal governments is the underlying system of recording transactions. This may hold the promise of creating trustworthy systems that record and value transactions. The general session discussion will offer a primer on the new currency and transaction system followed by a breakout session that will explore opportunities.


Aaron Klein, Economic Advisor, NAFOA 

Grit & Determination: Characteristics of Self-Governance

Our leadership discussion will highlight the struggles and challenges of defending sovereignty when tribal governments exercise self-determination. These challenges often take years and decades to work through and would deter most government and corporate leaders. But tribal government leaders persist and take a long view. Join the conversation as leaders share their experiences and discuss the future of self-determination, including how they have and continue to take on political and financial challenges.

Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe


Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Chairwoman, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Liana Onnen, Chairwoman, Prairie Band Potawatomi

Cheryl Smith, Chief, Jena Band of Choctaw Indians

Trust Responsibility in the Economic Age

The conversations around the federal trust responsibility have been focused mostly on the role of the Department of Interior, land use, and the funding and management of programs. But, what is the trust responsibility of the federal government in building greater tribal autonomy around economic development - the same development that provides needed government program revenue and services? Also, how are the other agencies, such as the Department of Treasury and Department of Agriculture meeting their trust responsibility from program development perspective? And, finally, how is the federal government, through all of its agencies, protecting tribal assets from external development? Join our esteemed guests in conversation as we discuss this timely question.

Kitcki Carroll
, Executive Director, USET


Kevin Gover, Director, National Museum of the American Indian

Dave Archambault, Chief Consulting Officer, FirstNation HealthCare

Treasury and IRS Update

The Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee was formed with the last appointment being made in February. The seven-member panel can now begin its mandate of advising the Secretary of Treasury on all tax matters related to Indian Country. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service, through its Advisory Committee on Taxation, takes on an issue that impacts Indian Country each year. Representatives of each will update their work, their progress and their plans going forward.


Jean Swift, Treasurer Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, IRS Advisory Committee on Taxation

Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee Members

Monday, April 23 11:50 AM - 1:20 PM


National Native American Veterans Memorial Presentation 

The National Museum of the American Indian will honor Native American servicemen and women in a very visible way: a prominent memorial on the National Mall, a place that draws nearly 24 million visitors annually to Washington, DC. This permanent veterans memorial on the nation’s preeminent stage will shed light on the countless Native American warriors who have given so much of themselves throughout history, and who continue to defend our nation today.


Alan Gordon, Co-Director, Gaming Industries, Global Commercial Gaming, Bank of America Merrill Lynch 

Speaker: Kevin Gover, Director, National Museum of the American Indian

Luncheon sponsored by:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Monday, April 23 1:15 PM - 5:25 PM

Breakout Session Themes

Track 1 Theme: Governance & Economic Opportunities

Track 1 themed sessions on "Governance & Economic Opportunities" provide insight on best practices for building the legal and governance capacity of your tribe.

Track 2 Theme: Financial Management 

Track 2 themed sessions on "Financial Management" are designed for finance department staff, emerging financial managers, and tribal administrators looking to continue their education in accounting, budgeting, and operations.

Track 3 Theme: Capital & Asset Management
Track 3 themed sessions on "Capital & Asset Management" are designed to help tribes identify and secure viable sources of capital to fund current and future ventures.

Monday, April 23 1:20 PM - 2:35 PM

Breakout Sessions

Track 1: Reconsidering the Benefits & Economics of Class II Gaming

Tribal governments are having serious conversations about the benefits of pursuing full Class III gaming. The revenue that Class III compacts distribute to the states does not come close to the value of services or support received. In some cases, competition in surrounding jurisdictions has even diminished the value exclusivity arrangements. Is it time to reconsider the use of Class II gaming and the negotiation process of Class III? This session will explore the economics of the decision, the negotiations of Class II, and discuss the questions around Class II autonomy from a leadership and industry point of view.


Daniel P. Boudreaux, CPA, CGMA, MBA, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise


Stephanie Bryan, Tribal Chair & CEO, Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Anita Grivins, Director of Finance, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

Rob Schramer, CFO, Video Game Technologies (VGT)

Track 2: Indirect Cost Rate Proposals: Strategies for Getting Priorities Funded

Funding full overhead costs for programs is a longstanding challenge for tribal governments. Negotiating an indirect cost rate may seem like an accounting issue, but in fact, it is a set of strategic decisions based on the tribe’s organizational review. In this session, speakers will discuss the essentials of cost allocation: preparing a formal organization chart explaining services and functions for each unit, how to identify various overhead costs and choices in allocating tribal programs. By making strategic decisions, rather than relying on formulas, a tribe can increase the costs it can recover.


George Krull, Interim Head, School of Accounting, Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University


Virginia Elves, CPA, Stillaguamish Tribe
Shawn Ray
, Director of Accounting, Seminole Tribe of Florida

Mark Stout, MBA, Branch Chief, Office of Indirect Cost Services, Interior Business Center, U.S. Department of Interior

Track 3: Planning and Funding Infrastructure

Financing tribal infrastructure for roads, water and wastewater systems, administrative buildings and other capital assets is time consuming and expensive – not just to build out but also for the tribal government to operate and maintain. Infrastructure relying on private partnerships is once again a consideration for the Administration and Congress. This session will discuss infrastructure plans, financing options, and put forward examples of energy infrastructure options that all tribes should consider.

Phil Glynn
, President, Travois

Ron Allen
, Chairman, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe

Stephen Lewis, Governor, Gila River Indian Community

Geoff Urbina, Managing Director, KeyBanc Capital Markets

Monday, April 23 2:35 PM - 2:50 PM

Refreshment Break

Sponsored by:

U.S. Bank
Monday, April 23 2:50 PM - 4:05 PM

Breakout Sessions

Track 1: Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: Tribal Implications

Could the promised disruption of both cryptocurrencies and blockchain impact the way tribal governments trade and record transactions? If there is an impact, what are the implications?

Our panel of experts will discuss the impacts of using a universal currency for trade and the possibility of a wider adoption within and between tribal governments. In addition to currencies, and possibly more valuable for sovereignty purposes, is using a tribal government blockchain system that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. This may have real and practical impacts for sovereignty and administrative purposes.


Aaron Klein, Economic Advisor, NAFOA 


Alison Grigonis, Senior Attorney, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Frank Reddick, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP

Track 2: Big Changes to the 477 Program: An Opportunity to Strengthen Grants

The Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Act of 1992 (477 Program) was recently amended by Public Law No: 115-93. The 477 Program was a proven example of promoting tribal self-determination as it provided flexibility in deciding how tribes spend federal funds for similar program objectives. The new law includes new rules for grant approvals a streamlined way of receiving grant awards from up to ten agencies all coordinated through the Department of Interior. This session will provide information on program participation, the grants management and compliance process, and how the recently passed law impacts the existing 477 programs.

Katie Klass
, Attorney, Hobbs Strauss Dean & Walker, LLP

Kenneth LeMieux
, DWD Specialist/AOTR, U.S. DOI-BIA-OIS-Division of Workforce Development

Senta Rowan, IDC/Grant Management Accountant, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Lorenda Sanchez, Executive Director, California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc.
Margaret Zientek, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Track 3: Retirement Plans 101: Understanding Tribal Government Options

Administering tribal government retirement plans requires an understanding of federal, state, and tribal law. Making matters more complicated, ERISA laws require that tribal governments provide  different retirement plans to their employees according to the type of employer, class of employee, and objective. Elected officials also have a very different set of options when it comes to social security eligibility and contributions. This session will review the different types of plan options, eligibility, and the various ways to set up efficient plans and monitor retirement plans as fiduciaries.

Robert Yoder
, Attorney, Yoder & Langford, P.C.


Matthew D. Gelfand, Managing Director, Senior Economist and Senior Investment Advisor, Rockefeller Capital Management

Doug Igel, CIMA®, AIF®, Director, Retirement Plan Services, Beacon Pointe Advisors

Azadeh Jasmine Tavakoli, THRP, Human Resource Director, Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa

Monday, April 23 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM

Breakout Sessions

Track 1: Seeding Capital for Growing an Economy

Tribal governments have acquired or started federally-chartered banks and Community Development Financial Institutions for a number of reasons. Some are trying to address the lack of capital and credit in their communities, while others see it as an opportunity to build out banking and credit services for expansion while creating businesses and jobs skills at home. Access to capital is a necessity in building out any economy. We will explore the option of buying or creating a federally-chartered bank and developing other financial institutions, such as CDFI’s that serve communities. Join the session to learn from their successes and mishaps along the way.

David Black
, Community Development Expert, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency


David Clay, Assistant Deputy Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Robert Gaffney
, Senior Licensing Analyst, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Clint Hastings, CDFI Fund, Department of the Treasury

Jenny Small, Attorney, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Track 2: Internal Controls: Top Reasons Your Tribe Got Hacked

Governments are using automation and integration of cloud-based processes now more than ever. While these services increase the ease and administrative efficiency in many respects, some tribes have recently found that they also present challenges in maintaining the integrity and control of information. In this session, we’ll discuss some of the challenges tribes have run into when relying on external technologies, as well as, ways to strengthen internal controls to protect tribal government information and assets.

Matt Borkowski
, Senior Technical Account Executive, Arctic IT

Troy Hawes
, Senior Manager, Moss Adams

Chris Luter, CIO, Forest County Potawatomi

Track 3: Risk Management: Unique Considerations Needed for Protecting Your Government

Indian Country has unique obligations and ways to manage risks as governments and as government leaders. Worker’s compensation or health insurances can be self-funded or re-insured while sovereign considerations determine the use of plans that cover liabilities and government property including housing, buildings, and auto. Also, tribal leaders need to consider the risks of performing their duties. Our experts will give a primary review of these unique issues and how to manage the seen and unseen risks.

Max Muller
, President, Max Muller & Associates


Dan Kain, Business Executive, Puyallup Tribe of Indians

Venus McGhee Prince, Counsel, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Derek Valdo, Chief Executive Officer, Amerind Risk 

Monday, April 23 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

President's Reception

Sponsored by:




Tuesday, April 24 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Women's Leadership Breakfast (Optional)

This breakfast will provide a forum for women tribal leaders and others in key tribal finance positions to exchange ideas, share experiences, and inspire each other to achieve their goals.

Sponsored by:

Barnes & Thornburg LLP
San Luis Rey Indian Water Authority
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
TFA Capital Partners
Wells Fargo & Company
Tuesday, April 24 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast Buffet

Tuesday, April 24 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM

General Session

Opening Prayer and Cultural Sharing

NAFOA Board Campaign Speeches

NAFOA is hosting elections for two of the five board positions in the organization. This year we will hear from candidates wishing to hold the President and Second Vice President positions on the board. 

Professional Development: Tribal Financial Manager Certification Program

NAFOA’s professional development focuses on a bold and methodical approach to building a necessary foundation for financial management and awareness that will support the substantial economic growth experienced by Indian Country. Our partner, Arizona State University, will provide an overview of the upcoming Tribal Financial Manager Certification Program.

Traci L. Morris, Ph.D., Director, American Indian Policy Institute,
Arizona State University

Recognizing Tribal Governments - A Historic Meeting With Accounting Standard Setters

Governing bodies of accounting standard-setters met with tribal representation for the first time in a historical face-to-face discussion last month. The educational exchange included a discussion on how federal Indian policy has shaped governance and resulted in a complex government framework that does not allow them to fit neatly into the existing accounting standards of state and local governments. A representative will provide an update on the meeting, as well as where tribal governments stand with the “dual audit opinion” issue.

Lorelei Cloud
, Tribal Council Treasurer, Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Is That Robot Applying for My Job?

New and emerging technologies, such as robotic process automation and computer learning will transform the workforce of the future. For tribal governments, we already see the impacts on the gaming floor. The successful tribal governments of tomorrow will be those who embrace the next wave of technology to empower workers and do more with less in their operations. This presentation will introduce the way automation platforms may change the way we perform operations and serve constituents.

Bruce Hellen
, President, Arctic IT

Wesley Smith, Data & Artificial Intelligence Solution Specialist, Microsoft

Sovereignty, Economic Development, and The Courts

A number of court decisions have changed the way tribes conduct business and make agreements. The current decisions have added risk and uncertainty for tribes pursuing development. This has translated into higher legal financing costs. Our expert panelists will discuss the current and pending cases impacting development and review the practical ways tribes can structure agreements to manage risks better and navigate legal minefields.


John Berrey, Chairman, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma


Jeff Heimann, Managing Director, TFA Capital Partners

John Peebles, Partner, Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP

Christine Swanick, Partner, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

Tuesday, April 24 11:00 AM - 11:10 AM

Refreshment Break

Tuesday, April 24 11:10 AM - 12:25 PM

Breakout Sessions

Track 1: Opportunities in Building a First Responder Network

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will be rolling out new tools, devices, and apps that will revolutionize how firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement interact with the public. Although the network is set to begin its rollout this year, some questions remain regarding timing, participation, jurisdiction, and ownership. This session is an opportunity for participants to hear from our consultation and tribal representatives on how tribes may be involved in the network build-out, implementation, and on-going maintenance. Just as important, it is an opportunity to hear from the First Responder representatives about cost considerations and opportunities for tribes regarding jurisdiction and utilizing excess network capacity on tribal lands.


Brian Howard, Research and Policy Analyst, American Indian Policy Institute, Arizona State University, and Chair, FirstNet Tribal Working Group

Adam Geisler
, (Luiseño), Regional Tribal Government Liaison, First Responder Network Authority

Margaret Gutierrez,  First Responder Network Authority, Tribal Government Liaison Regions 1-8

Carrie Johnson, Lead Manager, Tribal Affairs Specialist, AT&T FirstNet Program

Track 2: Technology in Accounting: Speeding Up the Month-End Close

Speeding up the financial close while maintaining accuracy shouldn’t mean long days and long nights. Many tribal governments and enterprises are seeking information at an accelerated pace, but tribal leaders need to be reassured they can trust the data. Panelists in this session will provide tips on automating standard and recurring entries, integrating worksheets and technology into reconciliations, and other critical steps to meet deadlines.


Jon D. Panamaroff, Chief Compliance Officer and SVP Western Operations, Koniag Government Services


Thomas Comer, CPA, Director of Finance, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe)

Sam Owl, Manager – Tribal Services and BizOps, CliftonLarsonAllen 

J. Alan Post, CPA, CFO, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

Track 3: Treasury-FinCen Regulations: Why the Federal Government is Involved in Your Bank Relationship

You may be wondering why your bank has been collecting new information on your tribe. Banks are now required to identify and verify a “beneficial owner” and request anti-money laundering policies. These new requirements were not drafted with tribal ownership in mind, but nonetheless, tribes need to comply. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued these regulatory requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act that will go into effect in May of this year. Our panelists will review the regulatory requirements to ensure your tribe is prepared for the new regulations and provide an understanding of the nature of the bank requests.


Grant Eve, Partner, Wipfli/Joseph Eve


Alan Gordon, Senior Vice President, CO-Director Gaming Industries, Global Commercial Gaming, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Sandra Sojka, Esq., CAAMS, Regulatory Policy Officer, Policy Division, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Clay Vanderpool, Senior Vice President, PNC Bank Native American Gaming & Finance

Tuesday, April 24 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

11th Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon

The 11th Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon honors tribal leaders and finance professionals for their outstanding contributions to improving economic conditions in Indian Country, as well as an innovative education program and business deal.


Education Program of the Year

Deal of the Year

Executive of the Year

Tribal Leader of the Year

Tuesday, April 24 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Breakout Sessions

Track 1: Plowing for Economic Development Treasures in the Farm Bill

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Bill legislation, serves rural America through credit, infrastructure, economic development, and the development of tribal agriculture resources and products. Indian Country, as rural governments, have been under-represented in these significant USDA resources. The USDA programs can be used to resolve access to capital issues, develop tribal food products, develop infrastructure, and even directly fund economic development and housing.

Colby Duren
, NAFOA Counsel


Janie Simms Hipp, Director, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law

Gary Matteson, Vice President for Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach, The Farm Credit Council
Zach Ducheneaux
, Intertribal Agriculture Council Board of Directors

Track 2: Do You Have Year-End Grant Money You Must Use or Lose?

Tribal governments rely on federal grants to fund a large portion of their social service programs. Congratulations, you made it to the end of the grant year and there is unused grant money. What are your options for leftover money - give it back, spend it elsewhere, or explore other options? In this session, tribes will learn different options for managing their excess year-end grant money including responsible spending techniques, grant-extension options, and situations when the best decision is to return excess funds to the grantor.

Scott Huebert
, Partner, Finley & Cook CPAs


Larry Barton, CFO, Oneida Nation 

Theresa Belton, CFO, Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes

Kristy VanderMolen, Director, BDO USA LLP

Track 3: Scaling Up: Managing the Pains of Growth and Change

Every tribal government or government-owned enterprise experiences growth and change. Anticipating and planning for that growth and change can potentially move your organization forward while others struggle. There are certain systems, financial practices and technologies needed to scale up an organization or business during these growth periods. Our organizational experts will review best practices for taking on change and growth.

Robert Smith
, Chairman, Pala Band of Mission Indians


John Hosman, Partner, FS Advisors

Francisco Colon, Partner, Assurance and Advisory Services, MGO LLP

Joel Laubenstein, Principal, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP

Tuesday, April 24 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Refreshment Break

Sponsored by:

U.S. Bank
Tuesday, April 24 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Breakout Sessions

Track 1: Maximize Health Care for Your Tribe – Asking the Right Questions

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act provides tribes with expanded options to structure health services and billing options. These added options have changed the quantity and quality of services offered while increasing the reimbursement for services. By understanding the different options available and evaluating the costs and risks appropriately, tribes can maximize health services offered, eligible participants, and use administrative expenses to build facilities that can meet healthcare needs and demand. This session will focus on three key components of the Act: maximizing third-party revenues (Section 206), creating a Tribal Premium Sponsorship program with ISDEAA funds, and evaluating the benefits of accessing the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the Federal Employees Group Life Insurances Program (Section 409).


Michell Hicks, President, Chief Strategy Group Inc.


Nicole Elliott, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP

Brendan McKenna, Alliant Specialty Insurance Services/Tribal First

James Nichols, Senior Attorney, Dorsey & Whitney LLP 

Track 2: What Are Your Auditors Looking for This Year?

There are a number of emerging audit red flags that have risen from rule changes in accounting standards and technology. Prevailing economic trends impacting casinos is also weighing on auditors. Additionally, grant recipients must adhere to changes to the administrative requirements resulting from the revised OMB Uniform Guidance, which made changes to cost principles and audit requirements. Satisfying all requirements can be confusing. Panelists in this session will review the changes and give insight into what they will be looking for in 2018 and beyond.

Walker Wilkerson
, CPA, MBA, Managing Principal, Assurance, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Wesley Benally
, CPA, Senior Manager, Audit & Assurance, REDW

Patrick J. Cogley, Regional Inspector General for Audit Services, Office of the Inspector General, HHS

Christie Jacobs, Director of Office of Tribal Governments, IRS
Tasha Repp, NAFOA's Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council Representative

Track 3: Tribal Cannabis and Hemp Ventures: Answers or More Questions?

The tribal cannabis industry is growing, however, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum rescinding all prior guidance regarding the enforcement of marijuana offenses. How will this effect tribal governments and the cash-heavy industry? How will these new barriers impact practices and front-line controls that banks are using in evaluating risk? Does this leave greater opportunities and certainty in hemp? These are just a few of the many questions that Indian Country is asking. Our speakers will explore the state of the market and provide clarity on a strategy moving forward.

Brendan V. Johnson
, Co-Chair, American Indian Law and Policy Group, Robins Kaplan LLP


Benny Tso, Chairman Las Vegas Paiute Tribe

Windy Anderson, Suquamish Evergreen Corporation Board Member
La Vonne Peck
,  Partner, Native Network Consulting

Robin Little Wing Sigo, Suquamish Tribal Council Treasurer and Tribal Council Liaison to the Suquamish Evergreen Corporation Board of Directors

Tuesday, April 24 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Closing Reception

Join us at  the Bourbon Cowboy for some networking, local cuisine and New Orleans fun, complete with mechanical bull rides! 

Sponsored by:

Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP